SONOMA, CALIFORNIA — Wine Institute hosted MarCom 2018, a marketing communications workshop recently for its members offering a half-day of presentations on strategies for influencer marketing for wineries, maximizing digital marketing, new tools for communicating sustainable winegrowing and how the rest of the world views California wine. Elaine Chukan Brown of and Monique Soltani of Wine Oh TV discussed wine coverage from a journalist’s perspective.

Wine Institute members gathered in Sonoma to hear from top wine journalists and communicators about content ideas, how to work with influencers and more.

“The landscape for winery marketing communications is changing rapidly with the advent of increasing social media use and the shift to new technologies and digital platforms for traditional wine communications,” said Nancy Light, Vice President of Wine Institute Communications. “We are pleased that our workshop could offer a discussion of these trends by a variety of speakers with experiences from different fields.”

In the panel session, Ten Things You Need to Know to Maximize Your Winery’s Digital Marketing, Rhonda Motil of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines said they feature winery people, place and craft, noting that 31% of the most viewed stories on Instagram are by businesses and Facebook Live has six times the engagement rate over video and 25 percent more comments. Mike Ganino of Tableside Digital Magazine said that social media is similar to reality TV shows — people crave real stories with meaning and experience. His content ideas for wineries include a weekly tasting, a day in the life, meet the makers or an education series. Katherine Wojcik of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants says guests are Kimpton’s biggest brand champions. She suggests providing amenities with good imagery that inspire guests to create their own personal postings.

In Conversations with Elaine Chukan Brown and Monique Soltani, Elaine of and Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews says Instagram is her mainstay platform. She strives to find the surprise in something familiar and says people like educational content that maintains complexity, yet is simple. She looks for websites that convey confidence and postings that have openness, are personal and make a genuine connection. Monique of Wine Oh TV says her show started on her website and became syndicated. She features the people and places of wine, making it educational and fun. She says wineries can film their own video on a phone. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Invest in a phone microphone for good sound and shoot horizontally for YouTube or vertically for Instagram to accommodate the platforms.

In a marketing session, Sips and Strategy: Implementing Influencer Marketing for Your Winery, Juliana Colangelo of Colangelo & Partners said Instagram is the best platform for customer engagement because of its ease of use. She outlined PR basics: tell real stories that go beyond facts and figures and focus on current trends; know if the audience is trade media or lifestyle and pitch for their “beat”; and get wine to the influencer. Colangelo’s Shanika Hillocks said influencers are another form of advertising where one pays for a post and agrees to a contract outlining price and deliverables. The marketer can discuss what’s expected, timing of the post, image aesthetic, usage rights, #hashtags and verbiage to use.

The MarCom program and speakers were as follows:

Welcome & Member Benefits with Hank Wetzel, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Wine Institute Board Officer, and Ian Blue, Director of Member Relations, Wine Institute. Networking Breakfast hosted by FedEx.

Sips and Strategy: Implementing Influencer Marketing for Your Winery with Juliana Colangelo, West Coast Director, and Shanika Hillocks, Influencer Relations Specialist, Colangelo & Partners.
New Tools for Communicating Sustainable Practices with Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Wine Institute.

Ten Things You Need to Know to Maximize Your Winery’s Digital Marketing with Rhonda Motil, Vice President of Marketing, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Mike Ganino, Tableside Digital Magazine and Katherine Wojcik, CSW, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

How the Rest of the World Sees California Wine with Linsey Gallagher, Vice President, International Marketing, Wine Institute.

Conversations with Elaine Chukan Brown,, Wine and Spirits Magazine, Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews and Monique Soltani, Wine Oh TV, with Nancy Light, Vice President, Communications, Wine Institute.

Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group representing nearly 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses responsible for 85 percent of the nation’s wine production and 95 percent of U.S. wine exports. California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 139 American Viticultural Areas and 4,700 wineries. The California wine industry generates 786,000 jobs in the U.S. and attracts 24 million tourist visits to the state’s wineries each year.



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