The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 42 of 124

42  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2018 PUBLIC RELATIONS B ased in Berkeley, California, J.A.M. Public Relations opened its doors 15 years ago; today, owner Michelle Armour says she and her staff of five run a full-service agency that aims to "help wineries get noticed, stand out, and enhance their image and reputation." The Tasting Panel sat down with Armour to find out how J.A.M. keeps the wine PR flowing. In addition to public relations, J.A.M. provides direct-to- consumer strategy and marketing support, including product launching and label redesign. Armour says her staff prides themselves on building long-term relationships not only with stalwarts like Duckhorn Vineyards and Spottswoode Winery, but with smaller producers like Cobb Wines and Albatross Ridge as well. "We have a very holistic approach to image building," she says. "We work with clients to understand what makes them unique—what defines them? We help tell their story in a compelling and authentic way." That can be a lengthy process, since PR is a marathon, not a sprint. "When people read a winery's name in an article or review for the first time, they may not notice it. The second time they see that name, they recognize it," Armour explains. "The third time, their interest is piqued." Obtaining that level of brand awareness is crucial now more than ever with so many wineries vying for success in the current market. For J.A.M., traditional press coverage still rules. "Press can have better impact than ad buys or marketing campaigns because it's an impartial third-party endorsement," she says. And while many wineries view favorable press as an end result, Armour says J.A.M. instead stresses that "positive press is a tool that needs to be used properly. Once a client gets press, we work with them to maximize it." There are many ways to do this, but first and foremost, Armour says wineries should make an article easy to find on their website and display it in their tasting room. "It's a missed opportunity if you're not sharing great press with your customers who buy your wine and want to join your wine club," she adds. And while J.A.M. of course utilizes social media, it's not a "silver bullet"—though it can be a powerful tool when executed properly. Armour says she instead relies on an approach that centers around "strong and consistent" sampling programs. "Our clients achieve better recognition, deeper market penetra- tion, higher sales, and greater wine club retention as a result of press coverage from sampling," she explains. A Belief in Strong and Enduring Perceptions at J.A.M. Public Relations J.A.M. Public Relations Owner Michelle Armour and her dog Pinky. story and photo by Michael Cervin "We work with clients to understand what makes them unique— what defines them? We help tell their story in a compelling and authentic way."

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