6 keys to getting more media coverage of your winery or hospitality brand

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Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a Santa Rosa-based marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read past Digital Marketing columns.

Media coverage is vital to any brand’s success, but this topic is particularly important to the hospitality industry here in the North Bay.

After all, both travelers and locals alike rely on articles, blog posts, and online reviews when booking their hotels, winery tours, and restaurant reservations.

The hospitality industry in Wine Country is growing. With more hotels, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries than ever before, publicity matters if a business strives to stand out. Writers and journalists in hospitality are stretched thin. With short deadlines, late-night writing sprees, and an array of topics to cover in the North Bay, writers are looking to feature brands that make their job a little bit easier.

Instead of having to call a tasting room for information about the latest wine release or going into a restaurant to learn about an event, they prefer to simply visit a business’s website to find more information about the subject matter.

And unfortunately, when they get there…often there isn’t a lot of information at hand.

Christopher Sawyer is an internationally-renowned sommelier, wine educator, journalist, consultant, critic, and public speaker based in Sonoma County. So, take it from him when he notes how things have changed:

“Back when I first started wine writing, members of the media would be an employee of a publication, and they receive a press kit from wineries, complete with wine labels and printed up wine specs for most new releases.”

That is definitely not how the world works in this digital era.

Writers are often freelancers, working from home. They’ve got little or no budget for photo shoots and dining out at all the new restaurant openings. One way that hospitality marketers can ensure that the members of the media want to write about their brand is by regularly updating their websites with the latest information. Even better, have a press, trade, and/or media section available on that website.

A press section on a website is not about customers. It is about providing clarity for a writer, salesperson, sommelier, or wine buyer.

It is one way to tell the story of your brand. If you don’t provide the story on your website, especially on the media page, then the aforementioned people may get details wrong – or not want to feature your brand at all. By the time journalists land on the press section of your website, they are usually already writing about you and simply want to make sure they get the basics correct, such as when your business started and tasting notes.

It’s also a good place to grab a high-resolution image.

If you don’t have a media section yet, or simply want to revamp yours, here are the six things you need to know when creating a media section for your hospitality website:

1. Add a link to your press section on the homepage of your website, at the bottom.

There is a reason why this is the first bullet point. The most important thing to remember is to make this page easy to find for busy journalists.

2. Make sure to have a range of copy on this webpage.

Start off with a paragraph about your business, then the contact info for PR, awards or accolades, and fact sheets with background information on your products or services. Timber Cove Inn in Jenner, has a “Press & Accolades” page on the bottom of its website for anyone looking for more information.

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a Santa Rosa-based marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read past Digital Marketing columns.

“Just remember, this section isn’t just for the media… Members of the trade and sommeliers use this area to understand more about wines. Make it easy for them by adding quick bites of information like details about wine and food pairings, and what each blend is comprised of,” says Sawyer.

Make this information easy to copy and paste; a PDF can be very helpful as well. Round Pond Estate in Napa Valley has a “Trade & Media” page, complete with biographies, videos, and sell sheets that make it easy to quickly learn about their history and winemaking style.

3. Include imagery.

When media members take a look at your press page, this may be the main thing bringing them to your website. Make sure to have recent and high-resolution logos, labels, and a gallery (both horizontal and vertical images) with various evergreen and seasonal images of the products, the location, the owners, bottle shots of your best-selling wines, etc.

And, please make sure these are not taken with a smartphone.

For restaurants, you should have a shot of the front of the restaurant, the interior, the owners, head chef, and a few of the best-selling dishes.

The girl & the fig in Sonoma has a press section with images for each of their restaurants. Food producers or any hospitality business (like hair salons, spas, and clothing retailers) would also benefit from a media page on their website.

Clover Sonoma has a media kit with high-quality imagery, as well as an FAQ page containing all of the information you could ever want to know about their farming practices.

Many media sections for brands also include downloadable videos or links to their YouTube videos, like on Jordan Winery’s website trade section. Also, please make sure to update this section at least once a year. Remove photos that have been overused in the media and add new ones for journalists to publish.

4. Please don’t make media/trade sign in to get access to all of the information.

I understand that some brands want to make sure they know who’s getting this information, but it’s a step that members of the media or trade won’t want to deal with. Especially, if they are on a deadline.

5. Not as important as the others, but make this page mobile-friendly.

Sales people may be grabbing information about your wines on-the-go, so you want to make it easy for them to view details from their phone.

6. Last and equally important to the first point: When a member of the media or trade emails you, please make sure to email them back.

Having a media/trade section on your website isn’t just for bigger wineries, large restaurant groups, salons with multiple locations, or corporate hotels. And it isn’t just for hospitality brands that work with PR agencies. Any hospitality business that is looking to get press or connect with members of their trade should have a completed media page on their website.

Trust me, journalists will thank you for having all of your information in one place. And they will remember how (in)accessible your brand’s information is – it’s best to leave with a good impression.

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