The consensus opinion is that distribution has to happen first, and then you can reach out to the media to help tell your story.
How important is distribution before going out to the media with your story? At the 2016 USA Trade Testing Conference, a panel of top media insiders from the wine and spirits industry discussed the role of distribution in helping to tell the story of a new or unknown wine brand. In many cases, they say, it’s a Catch-22 situation: it’s difficult to get broad distribution if you don’t have media attention, but you can’t get media attention if you don’t have distribution in place.
The consensus opinion is that distribution has to happen first, and then you can reach out to the media to help tell your story. As W.R. Tish of Beverage Media Group points out, if a brand wants to get its story out, it has to have some form of distribution in the marketplace. It just “doesn’t make sense” for a trade media publication to tell your story unless there’s some way to access to the wine within the U.S. marketplace. In other words, if a media publication is going to take the time to learn about you and your brand, it’s going to want a way to introduce its readers to your products. David Ransom of The Tasting Panel and The SOMM Journal echoes this point, emphasizing that “you don’t have to be in all 50 states, but you do have to be in the major markets.”
That means a presence in major markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. That’s especially true for wine brands reaching out to a national media publication. If you’re targeting a purely regional publication, then you may only need to have access to a few key distributors in your region or areas. However, if you’re telling your story to a national publication – or to an international publication, then it’s vital to have distribution in place. As Felicity Carter of Meininger’s Wine Business International points out, if you are trying hard to get publicity, but don’t have any distribution, then it’s “a waste of money.” As she notes, it’s “absolutely critical” to have that distribution already set up, especially if you are trying to reach a very sophisticated international audience.
To a certain extent, you have to view this from the perspective of the publication’s readers. If they are reading about a compelling wine brand, the first thing they are going to do is find out how they can purchase it to taste for themselves. However, if they go to their favorite wine store or check out online stores, they are going to be frustrated if they can’t find it. And that, ultimately, will reflect negatively on the publication that just featured your brand. As David Ransom points out, “They may need to re-think why they’re reading the magazine.” Wanting to get your brand’s story out is a natural inclination, and one that’s shared by any up-and-coming brand. However, there’s a proper sequence of events that has to occur. And, in today’s media landscape, that means lining up distribution first, and then reaching out to top media outlets, rather than the other way around.
Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network
USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.
Hear the answer to this question at 6:50 minutes