AN IMPORTANT EVENT FOR THE AUSTRALIAN WINE INDUSTRY
Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia, October 10 - 12, 2019
THE ANNUAL Wine Media Conference will take place October 10 – 12 in the Hunter Valley, NSW, the first time the conference has ever been located outside North America in its twelve years of operation.
The Wine Media Conference will host approximately 150 attendees, including both wine media and wine industry communicators. The conference has had over 50 North American wine writers registered to attend since last fall when the location was announced. Another two dozen Australian media are registered to attend.
Wineries and other wine industry companies in Australia should pay attention to the Wine Media Conference for several reasons:
• Attending the conference is a great opportunity to meet these wine writers from Australia and abroad. Even wineries that do not export to North America can benefit by making contacts that might pay off in terms of social media exposure or written articles that will drive tourism.
• The conference content is specifically tailored to wine industry members and not just media. Content includes sessions on digital marketing, working with the media, and automating engagement with your community. A sample session for industry is “Selling More Wine With Less Effort”.
• There are sponsorship opportunities for wineries who wish to get their wines and message in front of these critical “influencers”.
The Wine Media Conference was started in 2008 as the Wine Bloggers Conference but underwent a name change last fall to more accurately reflect the attendance. “Not only did we have non-blogging wine media attending,” explained conference organizer Allan Wright, “but the reality is most traditional wine journalists also engage in social media and many wine bloggers also write for other outlets.”
Essentially, the lines defining who is “media’ have blurred over the past 15 or so years. With the advent of blogging, “citizen” journalists in the form of bloggers became prevalent and started attracting readers. In the wine industry, thousands of individuals around the world started wine blogs, grew their communities, engaged in social media, and became relevant to the wine industry.
Any one blog might not have a huge following but can still wield influence. “The reason wine blogs are important to the industry is that bloggers are seen as independent and passionate about the subject,” explains Wright of the conference. “If a wine blogger in Chicago writes only about Pinot Noir and has 20,000 followers, that might not seem like a large number but those 20,000 consumers care about what that blogger has to say.”
This power of “micro-influencers” is well discussed in marketing circles. Companies in many industries now send their marketing dollars towards these media with small audiences rather than towards traditional print publications because they are seeing a bigger impact from these relationships.
This influence is showcased at a conference when many influencers and traditional media come together. One blogger with a loyal following of 20,000 is magnified when there are 100 of those folks in the same room.
“When is Australia ever going to see 50 wine writers come to its shores from North America all at one time?” queries Wright.
From the attendees’ viewpoint, the Wine Media Conference serves a number of purposes. First and foremost, the conference provides education and learning. As a professional event, the conference has many hours of classroom content with subjects focused on writing, social media, videography, photography, and much more.
“The modern day wine writer is essentially his or her own business person,” claims Wright. “Even a traditional writer who has a paid assignment with a major magazine is very likely to have their own website, social media accounts, and even e-newsletters. That means he or she is just as interested in these marketing and communications skills as the winery in the next wine region.”
In addition to content, attending media come to network with each other and with the industry attendees. Often times, writers are aware of and communicate with each other but rarely meet face to face. The Wine Media Conference provides this opportunity via its annual meeting.
Finally, the conference provides insight into a new wine region and new wines. “Moving the conference year after year is not easy,” exclaims Wright. “But it also provides great benefits to our loyal attendees who want to see new wine regions they might never have visited.”
There are many wine pouring opportunities at the conference. Some include content sessions, in which companies such as Pernod Ricard will present an educational session including wine tasting to attendees. Another event is a Live Wine Social, which is similar to speed dating. Wineries pour wines for a table of attendees who have five minutes to evaluate and ideally write about the wines on social media. A traditional Expo also takes place during the conference.
Wright elected to move the Wine Media Conference to Australia for a number of reasons. “We had great support from our local partners, including a grant administered by Wine Australia,” explains Wright. “But more importantly, we wanted to give our North American alumni the chance to attend the conference in an exciting wine region far from their homes and also give Australian media the opportunity to attend without such a long trip.”
The Wine Media Conference will likely move back to North America next year, so jump on board now and get involved by registering for or sponsoring the conference.