Is a Name Change In Order?!?!?


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In a few weeks, I will be attending my first Wine Bloggers Conference, right here in my backyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. I am excited to be taking part in this wonderful event in multiple facets – as a blogger, as a moderator of one of the panels, and as a winery pouring my wines at a few of the events.

As I discuss this event with other local winemakers, though, I tend to get the same response – ‘I don’t really take these ‘bloggers’ seriously’ or ‘They don’t really have any impact anyway’ or ‘They just want free stuff”.

Why is this the case? Why don’t wineries see ‘value’ in bloggers? Could it be because of past experience with them? Could it be because of the ease of entry into this group and therefore no real ‘vetting’ to ensure a certain level of ‘quality’ or professionalism? Or could it be because of the name ‘blogger’?

I’m not one for change for change sake, but perhaps the term ‘blogger’ has become even more synonymous with ‘the ugly side’ of writing then any of us could have imagined.  Here is a quote from Urban Dictionary on bloggers:

“Term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger’s website to set the lesser blogger’s ego into orbit.

Then God forbid a blogger gets mentioned on CNN. If you thought it was impossible for a certain blogger to get more pious than he was, wait until you see the shit storm of self-righteous save-the-world bullshit after a network plug. Suddenly the boring, mild-mannered blogger you once knew will turn into Mother Theresa, and will single handedly take it upon himself to end world hunger with his stupid links to band websites and other smug blogger dipshits.” – Maddox

Is this the way that the general public continues to feel about bloggers? And more importantly, is this the way that wineries and wine consumers feel about the term? Is it time to re-evaluate and possibly refer to these writers as, say, writers instead?

Food for thought this morning- curious to hear your feedback . . .

Cheers!

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8 comments on “Is a Name Change In Order?!?!?

  1. Randy Smith says:

    Larry,
    Look forward to seeing you again next month. It will be my first conference, too.
    Lots of interesting stuff here. I believe most wineries underestimate the influence of social media and the internet, particularly to wine enthusiasts…probably because it’s hard to quantify. But do a Google search on Tercero and you’ll find numerous blog posts among the top 20 hits. That has to have impact on a label.
    I’ve also heard “they want free stuff”, which I guess refers to free wine samples for reviews. I wonder how pervasive that practice is for some vintners to paint all of us bloggers with that brush.

  2. Randy,

    Great points – and I indeed have many friends who are wine bloggers and take what they do ‘seriously’. I also do believe that most wineries underestimate the power of a ‘good’ or ‘prominent’ blogger with a good following. As far as free stuff goes, I’ve heard many a store of ‘leading bloggers’ who have boxes and boxes of wine samples – too many to get to . . . so yep, ‘freebies’ certainly can come with the territory 🙂

    Cheers!

  3. John Dickeyi says:

    I don’t have enough time or energy to deal with reams of minutiae. It takes a lot of work for me to do a writeup of an event, to have some content and help promote wineries and wines. I try to do my best to spread the word on the wonderfulness of wine and hopefully increase sales of this great liquid food made by many friends and acquaintances, both new and old. I figure it can only help us all. I too am looking forward to this Wine Bloggers Conference, in hopes of learning ways to improve. Any reduced price or very occasional “freebie” we get is not stored away in a box to molder. We are very grateful to receive these and are partaken of with great joy and renewal of fine memories. Without these acquisitions and admissions to events, there would be a lot less advertising of the products. It might not affect the giant producers much, but the little guys need all the help they can get to spread the word of their tasty and very individual creations.

  4. John Dickey says:

    Of course it probably helps to not be in so much of a hurry that I don’t spell my own name right! Clumsy fingers. sigh.

  5. Hi Larry
    It will be great to see you at the #WBC14 can’t wait, and like you said, right in your backyard, awesomeness!
    Regarding your comments above, one I don’t find any difficulty getting media passes to anything I want to attend. But I do find it difficult though, picking and choosing [not bragging, just stating the facts] which one to attend, seeing there are so many opportunities for the eager wine blogger to choose. I don’t see wineries undervaluing wine-blogs in any way and I’m frankly surprised this question is even being posed in the first place.
    Two, the “mommy” [apologies in advance, no offense intended by the use of that name] bloggers have no problem with the name ‘blog” and or the term blogger, they know who they’re and what they collectively bring to the table [so do advertisers]. Wine Bloggers need to think of themselves in this capacity [I know I do] take what you do as a hobby serious, and provide good, consistent content and the invitations will come. Or as it has been said, over and over, if you build they will come.
    My biz-card says wine writer, but as we all know technically, it’s a blog. Hell I publish on blogger, how it could be anything but a blog. Even if you don’t use the blogger platform, and instead WordPress or something else is used, it’s still a blog.
    Many businesses [wineries] have their own blogs and there are some damn fine examples out there, and they take many forms. In my opinion, it’s not a problem with the term; it may be more of a problem with a few bad apples who seem to spoil the whole bunch. But as we all know, the exception does not make the rule; I think the wine blogging community will be better served by focusing on those doing it right. Blog is not a dirty word, it’s a vehicle for brand building and great tool to help spread a company’s message, vision etc. far and wide.
    Taking the conversation in a different direction and refocusing it. We have all heard the notion,” that all press is good press” It’s not based on the content or subject matter, just the fact your brand was mentioned and this where I find the biggest disconnect, when wineries receive a review or article and won’t bother to respond to it or promote it on their own social media channels or even take the time to engage the author. Some wineries have social media channels set-up, but they don’t allocate very much time for monitoring and/or engagement and that is a big problem. I wrote an article [lengthy and detailed] about an up and coming local winery, purchasing grapes from SBC and making some fantastic juice and the reaction was ‘crickets’ at best, sad to say. If a winery has gone to the trouble of setting up the “usual suspects” [social media channels] then they should follow through with the next step, engagement.

  6. winebratsf says:

    If I hear one more “they want free stuff” I am going to hunt down those moochers and string the up.

    As has always been the case, a few bad apples spoil the barrel. Those of us who have been diligently working on our craft for many years, and spend great personal time and money pursuing our passions know that this is a clearly false statement.

    In fact, those wine clubs I belong to would also agree that this is not true!

    That said, there are regions that haven’t gotten value yet – and clearly Santa Ynez is one of them. I hope that we, as a collective whole, can change the opinions of those people who don’t understand our value. I am cautious indeed that this conference will be a bit out of control like PDX was – in which some of us got chastised for a few peoples’ bad behavior – but the vast majority of “bloggers” or wine writers or digital media authors — are aimed at changing the minds of those who don’t understand the value.

    Even the big guys see the value in social media. Look at the events that are major PR milestones that are ripe with bloggers. But region by region, it’s up to all of us to change the minds of those who don’t see value. And understand why they don’t’ see value.

  7. Frank says:

    Larry — excellent food for thought. I’m a few days late to the party here but submit the following for the digital records… *

    The blogger or writer or blogger discussion is much like the chicken and the egg (or, umm, maybe like the cork or screwtop) discussion — there is no right answer, but lots of opinions.

    IMO, a writer is a writer. I carved out my corner of the digital wine blogosphere six years ago and have been the Contributing Editor of a local print wine magazine for three years and consider myself a wine writer (albeit very part time) but am categorized by many as a blogger. Oh well. I prefer the term writer over blogger but answer to either.

    While your winemaking peers may be painting all those that author wine blogs in too broad of a brush, their points/concerns are valid for the majority. Most bloggers do not move the sales needle for a winery but, saying ‘bloggers don’t have any impact’ is not true. Just google any winery or wine from your region. How many blog posts (gahh, written by ‘bloggers’) are in the top 20 search results? (looked to be five when I Googled Tercero Wines)

    As for the ‘they only want free stuff’ comment — there is some truth to that but again, painting with too broad of a brush. There are about 20 ‘bloggers’ who seem to roam in packs — gobble up the same samples, write reviews for the same samples all about the same time. (This could be a self-fulfilling circle since the PR folks seem to love them and the wineries continue to supply the wines)

    As the medium continues to mature and the influence of traditional ‘gatekeepers’ continues to wane (I know, another controversial topic), I suspect the influence and impact of *regional-focused* bloggers will grow notably.

    Look forward to seeing you again at Wine Bloggers Conference.

    * I’m a fan of parenthetical asides.

  8. Hi Larry-

    Really interesting read. You bring up some great points here and despite being of the blogging persuasion, I have to agree that blogging does not bring with it much respect, and in many times shouldn’t!

    While I write for a blog, I don’t take bloggers seriously (an awful, awful name, isn’t it?) – then again, I don’t take myself seriously either! The influence of blogs, however, cannot be denied. There are some major pros and cons to the fact that just about anyone can be a blogger, and many times it allows for some to take advantage of the “perks of the trade.” However, I’ve seen just as many “qualified” wine buyers in both restaurants and wine retail shops take advantage of these same perks, whether it be amassing large collections of sample bottles, accepting paid trips to vineyards and other tasting events, etc…

    Looks like for now, the wineries and event organizations will just have to keep vetting the blogs for themselves!

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