July 22, 2014
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Uncorking the potential of New York’s wine industry Miscellaneous

The expressions on the faces in front of me couldn’t have been more welcoming. Thank goodness, I thought, because I had no idea whether they would see value in the presentation I was about to make. The faces belonged to owners and employees of dozens of wineries from across the Finger Lakes region.

Last week, I was honored to be part of a team from RIT and the New York Wine & Culinary Center to organize and present an education and training program for members of the state’s wine industry. The effort was made possible through a grant from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, a not-for-profit agency that supports wines and other grape products produced in our state through promotion and research.

More than 50 participants of the program listened in on sessions related to tasting operations, electronic marketing, trade relations, wine competitions and label design. Many of them shared personal insights, and everyone in attendance seemed to feed off the synergy created from such enlightened dialogue.

My presentation focused on media relations. I knew that few of these winery representatives were in a position to devote a lot of resources to developing a media strategy, but I wanted them to know it was doable—requiring little manpower and virtually no budget.

The faces looked at me and welcomed an explanation of my professional background. They even laughed at my jokes. That’s when I knew I was golden. We talked about the various forms of media and the pros and cons to each. We talked about the basics of writing a press release and identified the appropriate contacts to which they should be sent. Their questions were excellent. How far in advance of an event should a press release be sent? Does it help to personalize your pitch to individual members of the media?

The growth of New York’s wine industry is such a great story. Reporters are clamoring for opportunities to highlight the favorable economic impact it’s having on a region that has seen its share of hard times. My message for area wineries is to take advantage of the opportunities to be a part of this ongoing success story.

Next week we’ll be taking our program to wineries in Long Island and the Hudson Valley. I’ll have more insights to share on the experience in the March 14 issue of News & Events.

Let just hope the folks in Long Island appreciate my jokes.

 

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