Newspaper Circulation Stats That May Surprise You

Which newspaper has a larger print circulation: The San Francisco Chronicle or the San Jose Mercury News? Would it surprise you to know that the Mercury News has nearly 3 times the circulation of the Chronicle? Or that the Mercury News is in the top 5 U.S. newspapers by circulation and the Chronicle doesn’t crack the top 20?

While everyone is busy heralding the fall of the regional newspaper, the circulation statistics below paint quite a different picture. Some of these newspapers reach A LOT of people on a daily basis and should not be forgotten when considering press outreach campaigns.

On the other side of the coin are monthly online viewers. Here we see a different story, with the Chronicle reaching more than 10 million people per month while the San Jose Mercury News barely reaches 1.5 million.

No matter how you slice it, none of these numbers are anything to sneeze at, and are a reminder that even in the digital age regional newspapers still have a role to play.

Check out this comparison of some of the top U.S. daily newspapers. Green indicates high circulation, and red indicates low circulation:


And a scatter plot that shows print circulation versus unique monthly viewers, excluding the “Big 3” USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

print circulation

Print Circulation Numbers: Alliance for Audited Media
Digital UVM: Cision Digital Research

The Top 8 Things Not To Do in Wine Industry Advertising

Some contend that advertising is dead, but anyone who works in marketing—or who reads a magazine for that matter—knows it isn’t so. Advertising has changed tack and focus since the digital revolution, and there are still plenty of ways to effectively reach your target audience, provided you follow a few golden rules. The wine industry has its own specific advertising challenges, so we share our top eight things not to do in wine industry advertising below.

  1. Don’t silo your campaign: An integrated approach to an advertising campaign will increase its reach as well as the impact. Think about advertising as a partnership, not a one off expense line item. Developing relationships with media publications and working across a range of mediums—print, website, social media, emails and events—will help current and future campaigns go farther.
  2. Don’t accept a first offer: Rate card prices are almost always starting points for negotiating a better price, not a final offer. Do your research on competitor’s prices and just keep asking, “What else can you offer?”
  3. Don’t dive in blind: Before committing to anything, do your research to find out where and how the ad appears by looking at the publication’s current ads and asking to see samples. There’s nothing more disappointing than realizing that your digital ad appears at the bottom of a murderously long webpage once it’s already launched.
  4. Don’t skip the metrics: You should always know how the success of your ads will be measured. If running a print ad, know the number of subscribers and talk to the publisher to understand the most likely pass-along rate (i.e. the number of readers who read each copy, usually between 1.5-4, depending on the type of publication). If running ads online, ask the publisher to provide a report at the end detailing how many people saw the ads and how many clicked through. Better yet, link your Google Analytics account to the ad so you can actually see the results yourself.
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of print: Print ads can still be key to an ad campaign, and publishers will go a long way to get you to run a print ad. Ask for added value in the form of digital ads, email sponsorship, social media posts, and even special events as part of your print ad run to get the full mileage out of your campaign.
  6. Don’t be narrow-minded: Traditional wine media may not be the best way to go. Sure, you’ll reach wine enthusiasts by advertising in the major national wine magazines, but you’ll stand out more and reach a less saturated audience in food, travel design and lifestyle publications. Don’t be afraid to branch out!
  7. Don’t plan a campaign around major holidays: Unless you have a $200K+ campaign, your message will be lost in the chaos of holiday advertising blitzes. Continuing with your regular advertising for consistency is smart, but save your extra dollars for a time of year when it will stretch farther, such as late spring when wine country tourism begins to pick up.
  8. Don’t forget to review industry guidelines: Follow Wine Institute’s Code of Advertising Standards and the Code of Responsible Practices set forth by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) to help keep you compliant.

Forget First Impressions, Pick the Right Impression

What is the most cost-effective way to reach your consumer in today’s digital world? In the ever-shifting landscape of print and digital marketing, it’s important to know where you get the most bang for your buck. At the same time, price isn’t everything; impressions can be actual or potential, and some have more weight with consumers than others. So, it’s important to consider both price and impression type when designing a marketing program. Below, we compare the cost of impressions between four major marketing strategies used for one of our clients, a large U.S. winery.

Key Definitions
Actual Impressions: The number of people who see the content can be quantitatively measured
Potential Impressions: The number of people who see the content is an educated guess
Impression Weight: The quality and “stickiness” (i.e. likelihood of an impression “sticking” with a consumer) of an impression
Targetability: Ability to reach a precise and definable target audience
CPM: cost per mille (1,000) impressions

Facebook: $8 CPM (the average cost of a Facebook Page Promotion ad being served to a Facebook user. Data pulled from Facebook Billing Reports, Jan 2014- 2015.)
Impression Type: Actual
Impression Weight: Medium
Targetability: High
Key Advantage: Cost-effective way to reach a highly targeted audience

Public Relations: $10 CPM (web and print impressions calculated against agency PR fee using Benson PR project averages)
Impression Type: Potential
Impression Weight: Medium to high (depending on type of story placement)
Targetability: Medium
Key Advantage: PR impressions generate brand credibility

Email: $12 CPM (cost of sending an email to a consumer using Vertical Response’s 2015 pricing structure)
Impression Type: Actual
Impression Weight: Medium to high (increases significantly with a high open rate. 10% is an average open rate for consumer emails)
Targetability: High
Key Advantage: Provides opportunity to share more information and leads to further engagement

Advertising: $15 CPM (average cost of a targeted print and web ad campaign using Benson media buy averages)
Impression Type: Potential
Impression Weight: Low to medium (varies depending on type of ad. E.g. full page print ad in wine magazine vs. small digital ad on news site)

Targetability: Medium
Key Advantage: Creates general brand awareness with broad reach

While Facebook and PR are more cost-effective than email and advertising, the impressions for each strategy carry different weight and can be targeted to different degrees. An email is a “stickier” impression than a mention in a magazine article because it can target a consumer more effectively and can provide more information at one time by using text, images and links. In today’s marketing world, each communication strategy is valuable in a well-rounded marketing campaign.

Facebook ads are one of the most cost-effective ways to reach consumers.
Image Caption: Facebook ads are one of the most cost-effective ways to reach consumers.

How to Plan a Successful Press Trip

Press trips are a fantastic way to introduce journalists to your brand. There is no substitute for an in person, hands-on experience to communicate your story (although press events in other cities are important too, you can see “5 Tips for Planning Great Press Events” here. Recently, the Benson Marketing Group team organized a trip to the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) appellation in Monterey County for writers on behalf of our client, Hahn Family Wines. Here are a few takeaways from that experience that will help make any press trip a success:

Tell a Broader Story: Even though Hahn Family Wines sponsored this press trip, it was important to share the spotlight with other SLH producers. Exposure beyond Hahn Family Wines provided writers depth to the SLH story and created a richer, more fulfilling experience. Though counterintuitive, when clients share the spotlight it works in their favor, not against them. In fact, the first press result from the trip featured Hahn Family Wines prominently within a story about SLH.

Offer Authentic Spokespeople: It’s important that spokespeople are genuine so writers can focus on absorbing information instead of determining if a source is trustworthy. Spokespeople should be able to genuinely convey passion for the subject matter and a love for what they do each day.

Provide Access to Unavailable Experiences: While it’s important to demonstrate what experiences are available to the general public, writers also enjoy “off-the-grid” experiences that they could not have otherwise. For instance, one of the producers we visited has a tasting room outside SLH. Instead of visiting the tasting room, we met in the middle of the producer’s SLH vineyard for a conversation and tasting. On a press trip to the Languedoc region in France, we arranged a tour for writers in cars made by French manufacturer Renault. Also, something as simple as a private dinner with the winemaker and his/her family makes lasting memories.

Free Time Works in Your Favor: Leave approximately 90 minutes of free time prior to the evening’s activities so writers can relax or catch up on other work. Most will need to work on other writing assignments while they’re on the trip. Writers can also use this time to explore the area on their own and reflect on the experiences of the day. One writer, in particular, on the SLH trip used his free time to walk along the Monterey Bay and consider the source of the cool wind—a defining features of the Santa Lucia Highlands terroir—traveling from the Bay through the Salinas Valley.

Small Details Make Big Differences: The small details set a good press trip apart from a great press trip. Have a welcome bag with a hand-written note accompanied by an assortment of snacks and bottled water for them to pick up at check-in. Will you be outdoors all day? Bring sunscreen to share. And carry a phone charger with various cords to offer your writers a power boost in between destinations.

5 Tips for Planning Great Press Events

Whether you’re scheduling a lunch, dinner or one-on-one meeting, a well thought out event is a terrific tactic for meeting and keeping up to date with press. Creating a successful event starts with a few simple principles:

  1. You Must Educate. Today’s writer is likely working for themselves as a freelancer, so their time is money and they are selective about how they choose to spend it. Go beyond your own brand story and think about what you can teach them to make your event worth their while. You’re an expert in so many areas: pick one and expand the topic into event.
  2. Share Real Insights. How often have you read a winery’s vintage report that sounds like it was the most perfect vintage ever in the history of winemaking? This kind of Pollyanna storytelling does not play with journalists. Tell them something REAL. What are your real challenges and how are you meeting them? What keeps you up at night? Nothing frustrates a journalist more than a trained pony.
  3. Think Location. Most press events hosted on the road are going to take place in a restaurant or hotel event space. Think of the restaurant as a partner in your event. Work with the chef, sommelier and marketing/PR departments to create a compelling event that highlights them as well as your brand. Secondly, consider what the location says about you. Select a location that fits your philosophy, makes people think differently about you, or makes a statement.
  4. Keep the Real Goal in Mind. A lunch or dinner with 10-15 writers is an investment and can be a good one at that. However, something smaller can work just as well. It’s not the number of people at the table, but the quality of the conversations you start. The goal is not ‘butts in seats’ but rather ink on pages.
  5. Consider Timing. Keep your day of the week, time of year, and length of event in mind when crafting your event itinerary. Press are pressed for time. Keep lunches to no more than 2 hours. Keep dinners to 3 hours. Avoid Fridays and weekends. Finally, consider the time of year when planning an event. Hosting an event the same week as a larger conference or other industry gathering may seem like a good idea capitalizing on your time in the market, but competition with other brands will be stiff. Similarly, look at the calendar for religious holidays and pop culture events that may conflict with your event.

Happy educating!

Top 10 Ways to Take Advantage of #CabernetDay and Other Wine Holidays

languedoc-dayInternational Cabernet Day is this Thursday, August 27th, and the following week on Thursday, September 3rd, is National Cabernet Day (confusing, we know).  Although we fully support celebrating with a glass of the good stuff, that’s not the only thing you can do to celebrate. There is a day dedicated to almost every major grape varietal, and these “holidays” can offer easy and effective ways to connect with your fans and to reach new consumers. Here are our top 10 ways to take advantage of national/international wine days:

  1. Conduct a blogger/influencer mailing: Send a bottle of wine to bloggers or social media influencers with a note saying you hope they’ll enjoy it on the day. You may suggest that they hold a tasting party with friends, we’ve had good success with this strategy.
  2. Host an office/block party: Bring people together to taste and share comments about the relevant wine. Mix it up and include your peers’ wines in the lineup, in addition to your own.
  3. Share a special wine: Uncork a special wine, like a single vineyard or library vintage of that day’s varietal, in the tasting room to excite guests.
  4. wine-partyOffer a discount: Consider offering discounts on the featured varietal in the tasting room or online wine store. Spread the word to consumers via social media, emails, the website and the tasting room.
  5. Make it a sales tool: Encourage on-premise accounts to run a by-the-glass promotion or host their own party to celebrate the day. People love a reason to toast!
  6. Tap into existing resources: Several wineries and organizations run robust campaigns around a specific wine day (e.g. Wente leads Chardonnay Day, Duckhorn leads Merlot Day, and Summertime in a Glass sponsors Sauvignon Blanc Day), and they often have post ideas and images that they are glad to shar
  7. Get the word out early: Get involved 1-2 weeks in advance to encourage others to enjoy the wine and engage with you on the day. You can send an email blast, post it on your website, post on Facebook or tweet about it.
  8. Cheers to Pinot Noir DayJoin the conversation: Even if you don’t create original content, make time during the appointed day to get on Twitter and join the conversation. It’s a great way to find people who might be potential customers, brand evangelists and press contacts. To increase the number of people you reach, set aside two or three 30-minute time slots during the day to engage so that you’re connecting with different people throughout the day.
  9. Cue up posts in advance: Plan your social media content in advance so you can spend time actually interacting on the big day. Share anything from a pairing idea to a comment from the winemaker to a fun fact about the variety.
  10. Hashtags are your friends: Be sure to use the official hashtag (e.g. #SauvBlancDay) in all of your social media posts and to encourage others to do the same.

What We Saw at Tales of the Cocktail 2015

TOTC_FlagThis July, the gliterati of the cocktail world descended on New Orleans for a week of 100% humidity, 95+ degree days and more cocktails served in small plastic cups than you can imagine. It’s a seminal industry event that has inspired “cocktail weeks” around the world and brings together the best in the business for a hefty dose of education, networking and serious hospitality. So naturally, we sent our intrepid social media marketer and resident cocktail maven Adrienne Stillman to check it out.

Here’s a taste of what we saw at Tales 2015:

  • People: 2015 was the best attended Tales yet (as far as we could see) including very high attendance at seminars (was this because it was even hotter than usualRamos Gin Fizz Line outside?). In addition to trade, more and more cocktail enthusiasts have turned out for Tales in recent years, and that trend continued.
  • Parties: As always, there was a selection of over-the-top parties given by major brands including the signature William Grant Portfolio Welcome Party. This year the theme was “Welcome to Yonderyear: 2084” and the festivities featured a Storm Trooper DJ, a Drambuie Cloud Bar and a Reyka Vodka Ice House — with ice inside of it —among others. At the Pernod Ricard Welcome party, there was also a Ramos Gin Fizz assembly line, shaking cocktails into the requisite froth.
  • Products: Pisco, Irish Whiskey, Canadian Whiskey and all manner of bitters,
    vermouths, and liqueurs were on display in an ever-expanding array of flavors from craft producers to large coglomerates. If you thought pisco was niche, meet Singani 63, unaged grape brandy from Bolivia, which is film director Steven Soderbergh’s new pet project. We’re not making this up.Latitude_29
  • Places: Latitude 29, the new Tiki Bar by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, opened earlier this year in the Frnch Quarter and is already a favorite among the bar community. Practically everyone who attended Tales of the Cocktail this year probably passed through its doors.

Here’s to hoping 2016 will be just as fun, but less humid.

Languedoc, Taste Adventure

To promote the AOP wines of Languedoc in the south of France for our client the CIVL, we produced this sizzle video to highlight the region’s export growth, high quality product and unique terroir for use in trade promotion.

VinExpo 2015

Francois_HollandeFor those who missed the 2015 edition of Vinexpo, here is our recap in 2,000 characters plus a few images from Jeanne Peron, Manager of Benson Marketing Group in France:

For the first time since its creation in 1981, Vinexpo was inaugurated by the French President. Francois Hollande took the opportunity to defend oeno-tourism, while at the same time reminding the audience of the importance of the Evin Law that regulates communication and advertisements for the liquor industry.

DauphinsAs in every year, the 2,350 exhibitors attempted to differentiate themselves in order to attract visitors to their stand. Perhaps the biggest stand out was Rhum Dictador, who hired a bevy of hostesses dressed in black leather to represent their product

The must-have accessory of the 18th Vinexpo was the vintage bag from Les Dauphins (a Benson Marketing Group client), which carried with pride by all the fashionistas in the crowd. Its popularity confirmed the return of retro style previously heralded by Wine Intelligence.

RVF_Chinese_WinesThis year, more master classes were offered to attendees including one on Chinese wines ranked by La Revue du Vin de France (RVF): a unique opportunity to discover 17 wines from China judged to be of high quality. The wines were primarily from the region of Ning Xia – a promising location according to Olivier Poels, deputy editor of the RVF. The whites were Chardonnay and the reds for the most part Cabernet Sauvignon. There was a certain freshness to the wines, accompanied by very drying tannins; it will be interesting to observe how domestic Chinese winemaking evolves in the coming years.

Barton_Guestier_PartyLastly, our client Barton & Guestier celebrated their 290th birthday on the Garonne River along with buyers and journalists from around the world. On this occasion, the company revealed its newest brand, Heritage, created in honor of its founders.

So, is it the end of Vinexpo? Well, the 2015 show was a success, attracting 48,000 visitors, as many as 2013. Next time it reconvenes in 2017, it will be shortened from 5 to 4 days – good news for exhibitors as the sponsorship prices will be reviewed as a result.

Wine Competitions: Factors to Consider When Selecting

by Ben Palos

Almost every week, your inbox receives another wine competition deadline reminder. With so many options for wine competitions, it’s important to choose which ones are worth the money, time and effort. We consider the following factors when helping clients select their list of top-tier competitions.

Why does your brand need a score?

Awards from wine competitions can serve multiple purposes, so make sure you know what you’ll do with the results before you get them. For instance:

  • Provide Sales Team Ammo: Medals allow your sales team to promote a wine’s good results in sales presentations or on point of sales materials.
  • Increase Regional Presence: If your brand needs traction in a specific geographic area, explore the available local or regional wine competitions that have name recognition with consumers.
  • Become the “Most Awarded”: Some brands enter as many competitions as possible and rack up scores and medals so they can claim to be the “most awarded California Merlot,” for example.

Remember, not all wines in your portfolio need a score. Wines that have limited allocation (such as tasting room or wine club only wines) and always sell out each year are typically not good candidates for competitions.

Who are the judges and/or organizers?

Many prominent wine writers are the judges and/or organizers of wine competitions. Entering their competitions is a great way to support this important audience and get your brand on their radar. Browse the list of judges, often prominently displayed on the competition’s website. If there are individuals you want to support or who you know enjoy your wines, then it’s a competition you should consider entering.

What’s the (real) cost?

When selecting competitions, consider more than your monetary budget and the cost per entry. Know how many bottles the competition needs for each entry and investigate requirements for the winners. Will winning wines need to provide additional bottles for a grand tasting event? Will a winery representative need to be present at this event? The costs can add up quickly, so make sure you’re prepared for them.