Do you need a spin doctor?

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“Flacks,” ”Spin Doctors,” ”Publicists,” ”Communications Professionals”. They go by a variety of names, but they’ve been around for decades and the wine business has its fair share. The question is, do you need one and can they help you enhance your brand and sales. Here’s what you need to know before you go out looking for a doctor to spin your story. 

What Do Publicists Do? 
Bottom line: They communicate your unique brand positioning and story to different audiences. They are best known for reaching out to the media and pitching your story, but they may also work with the trade and even directly with consumers. They are communications specialists who bring an expertise to the table on the best way to identify the audience you need to speak to and the best way to reach that audience. That means they spend lots of time on the phone, in front of the computer and writing on their client’s behalf. 

What do Winery PR People Do? 
Most all wine PR people have a broad background in the workings of the wine industry from production to marketing. But for the typical small to medium sized winery, winery PR people take on the block and tackle work of communicating the winery’s unique message. This includes, but is not limited to, writing and send press releases, writing and designing press kits, writing wine data sheets, maintaining and updating website copy, organizing a media samples program, representing their clients at events, pitching stories to writers and media, organizing the winery’s participation in events, creating “media tours” where the client visits markets and meets with media and members of the trade, maintaining a media list specific to a particular clients needs, and more. 

Do You Need a Publicist? 
If inside your organization you have the means and staff to efficiently and effectively carry out the communications that a PR person would do for you, then you probably don’t need to hire an in-house publicist or PR agency to do this work. If you don’t have the in-house resources to carry out communications and publicity efforts that you believe would enhance your sales and brand stature, then considering a hire or an agency is probably something worth a thought or two.

What does it cost to hire a publicist? 
To bring in an experienced, wine savvy PR professional on staff you are likely looking at a $50,000 salary to begin with. However, for more experienced professionals, the cost could be much higher. In-house publicists almost always report to the Marketing Director since their work directly impacts the marketing side of a business. The other option is hiring an agency. Often times this can be a less expensive option, but it is critical that you and the agency know exactly what is expected in the relationship. Agencies can be hired on a retainer basis, on an hourly basis and for a project-by-project fee. Retainer fees, depending on the work they will carry out for you can range from $1500 per month to $6,000 per month.  

How Do You Find a PR Agency? 
As is expected, there are MANY of them. To find those with specific experience in the wine industry, a good place to start is by browsing through Wine Business Monthly’s list of Wine PR Firms.

Good luck!