Working as a wine publicist means being around wine at all times of the day, which might sound like a dream job, but before you decide to quit your day job and sign up, just know, it’s not all vineyard strolls, flowing glasses of wine, and press trips.
Wine publicists need to be well versed in event planning, data reporting, client management, and, of course, wine. Day-to-day schedules vary depending on how many clients are in town and what happens in the news cycle. A wine publicist can count on more than a couple early mornings, late dinners, and rushed interviews. Plus, you never know when a member of the press might bail on a meeting or lunch, throwing your whole plan off.
A busy day can start as early as 6:30 a.m., Victoria Domenico, an account supervisor at Wagstaff Worldwide, tells VinePair. If there’s a TV shoot for a client, it’s up to the wine publicist to set it all up — from bringing in the bottles, to cleaning off the tasting glasses, to setting up the shoot. And prepping the client who’s going to be on camera, of course. While this is going on, it’s important for publicists to catch up on the wine news of the day to figure out if their clients are impacted in any way.
Then it’s time to head to the office around 9 a.m. for the morning slog through client contacts, journalist emails, and media alerts. If you think your inbox is cluttered, then you haven’t seen a wine publicist’s inbox. Wine is a dynamic subject, and staying ahead of what’s going on means keeping in touch with people in various industries. There’s no dead time here. Morning hours are for making sure you know what is going on in the world.
By 11 a.m., the heavy pitching has begun, Stefán Sigurdsson and Krisna Bharvani, who work at Colangelo & Partners, tell VinePair. They brainstorm ideas, draft some pitches, edit (then re-edit) the drafts, and send out pitches to a variety of journalists and publications. Not every pitch is a stock draft, either. Certain journalists pay more attention when a more personal tone is used and the pitch is tailored to the outlet — such as this publication — while others prefer something straight and to the point. Wine publicists have to keep track of their relationships with writers so they know what ideas to send over, as well as how to word those ideas. The worst thing a publicist can do is send a pitch that’s not right for the publication, because it can look like they don’t know who they’re pitching, which can seriously turn the journalist off.
Timing is also key to the perfect pitch. “PR means you never know what time of year it is, because in the same day you’re working with a writer whose story will run next week you’re working with another whose article will appear in six months,” Domenico says.
Then at around 1:30 p.m., it’s lunch time. “Regrettably it’s often the infamous sad desk lunch,”Sigurdsson and Bharvani say, “but we do make a conscious effort to huddle together in our kitchen for a light break.” The grind doesn’t stop for food, though. If a writer cancels an RSVP to an event later that night (which writers notoriously do), it’s the wine publicists job to fill that writer’s spot.
Afternoons are a toss-up in the life of a wine publicist. There’s some more pitching of potential stories to journalists (there’s always pitching that needs to be done), as well as setting up events. All that pitching requires being up to date on trends, news, and numbers. So reporting and staying up to date on details throughout the day is fundamental. There’s also reporting on the other side. Clients want numbers to prove that public relations companies are spending their money efficiently.
At the end of the day, wine is a beverage meant to be consumed. Late afternoon tastings for writers aren’t uncommon. For sommeliers and wine industry people, there are usually middle-of-the-day tastings. Either way, it’s the wine publicist’s job to make sure the tastings are properly set up and run smoothly. Barring any dinners or events that go long into the night, it’s time to wrap things up around 6 to 7 p.m. and finally enjoy a glass of wine.
“One of the many perks of the job is that we regularly toast to the end of a successful day with a glass of wine in excellent company,” Sigurdsson and Bharvani say, “ready to do it all over again tomorrow.”