A Press Kit is a critical part of any winery’s public relations program.  It defines the company, provides reference materials to any journalist who is interested, and should serve as the primary source for all messaging and information that comes from the winery.

So why are so many press kits so bad?

The first reason they are bad is that the company doesn’t want to define itself in terms that really matter.  Every winery wants to have a unique story—but most don’t have the courage to really step outside the box. As a result, we read the same stories about the same topics:  carefully tended vines, handcrafted wines, passionate winemaking, and true dedication to quality.

The character and identity of the winery is blurred by these platitudes, and the remaining point of difference ends up being the personality of the owner.  This is all well and good, but I was always taught that the key message had to focus on benefits, not features.  How does the personality of the owner of your winery affect the flavor of the wines?  Where is the real benefit to the consumer?  If you can’t answer that question, then maybe the personality of the owner isn’t the key point of differentiation after all.

Do you want an even scarier thought?  Maybe your winery doesn’t have a key point of differentiation.

This is why writing a Press Kit is such a critical element in the development of a public relations strategy—and why it often takes an inordinate amount of time.  The writing isn’t hard, but getting the winery management to agree on the direction is often almost impossible.  All the internal disagreements about direction, focus, and style bubble to the top, and have to be resolved before the kit can be finalized.

Of course, you then have to make sure that it is true.  More than once, we have completed the kit to the exact specifications of the winery, only to discover (sometimes months later) that the information we were given was not true.   In the worst-case scenario, a friendly journalist tipped us off to the fact that the press kit was not only inaccurate, but intentionally so!  That is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Out of fear and trepidation, the winery fails to take important or significant positions.  It won’t make the necessary policy decisions to really stand out from the crowd.  It doesn’t want to strike off in a new direction, or boldly go where no winery has gone before.  And the press kit reflects this, from start to finish.

If I were a journalist, by the time I had read through about ten of these, I would be plenty tired of the whole idea.  And journalists get hundreds of these a year.  You job is to make sure this doesn’t happen with your kit.