Virtual Wine Tasting Events for Press Interview

How to Host a Private, Virtual Wine Tasting for Press

How to do you plan and host a successful, private virtual wine tasting for press?

Sarah Jones Gillihan, vice president at Benson Marketing Group, was interviewed by journalist Stacy Briscoe for Wine Industry Network. Here are the key points from their video interview:

  1. Find the Intersections.  Regardless of the format of the virtual tasting, find the intersection where your winery’s story intersects with current trend, or, if it bucks trends.
  2. Webinars are Storytelling Opportunities. Facts like pH and row orientation don’t make good storytelling. Think about these virtual press encounters as opportunities to share your winery’s insights and expertise, not just facts and figures.
  3. A Webinar is not a Wine Tasting.  Too many press webinars simply try to translate an in-person wine tasting to the digital realm. But the experience itself is different, because the medium is different. Generally, if you might have a 60 minute in-person tastings for a journalist, do the virtual version in 30 minutes.
  4. Use Multimedia. Two dimensional virtual tastings benefit by the use of pre-recorded video, props, and other “show and tell” that convert a boring monologue into a more engaging encounter.
  5. Who’s Your Audience’s Audience? How does your webinar connect with the journalist or freelancer’s specific audience? So do your homework: research their last 5 articles, understand the demographics of their media outlet, and know the outlets slant.
  6. Share their Story. Make a point of sharing the writer’s story through the winery’s social channels; their ‘report card’ is often determined based on engagement.

Until then…we’ll focus on virtual press tastings, webinars.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes

Additionally, there are practical tips for ensuring the webinar is productive and professional.

Here are a few mistakes we often see and ways to correct them:

  • Weak Internet Connection: Wherever possible, use a plugged in Internet connection rather than WiFi during your session. We’ve seen live interviews from the vineyard on a cell phone, with poor cell coverage, in high wind – it doesn’t work.
  • Bad Audio: Use a wireless or wired microphone/headset for better audio quality. Simple earbuds are often better than relying on your laptop’s mic.
  • Poor Lighting; Find an indoor location with good lighting on your face that avoids shadows.
  • Unflattering Camera Position: Ideally, the camera should be positioned slightly above your head, pointing down to your face, not the opposite.
  • Reverse Video: If you hold up a bottle to show a pretty label, make sure you know if the image is reversed for the viewer.

At Benson, we believe virtual press tastings are here to stay. Today’s wine writer is likely a time-strapped freelancer who needs to pitch her editors and get assignments. She doesn’t have time for luxurious lunches and multi-day press trips unless there’s an assignment.

Bottom line: it’s about respect. Respect for journalists’ time, respect for the demands of their editors, and respect for their audience. If you take an empathetic approach and do your research, you are more likely to help deliver successful, productive virtual wine tasting events for you and the media. That leads to coverage.

Resources and Related Stories

WIN Interview: Stacy Briscoe, Sarah Jones Gillihan
Interview Series: Jeff Ngo, SVP Marketing, WX Brands.