Sure, Let’s Talk About Wine at 8 a.m. in the Morning!

Recently, our team had the privilege of an all-expense paid trip (courtesy of Obsidian PR’s owner, Courtney Ellett) to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference. The conference incorporated three jam-packed days of learning, networking and team building, and we walked away with so much knowledge that we will be sharing with each other and with readers on our blog for months to come.

The session I most enjoyed at the conference was given by Aimee Sands, the director of communications for Jackson Family Wines, which owns La Crema, one of my favorite wines. Aimee talked about a unique customer engagement program launched by La Crema in 2014 that allowed customers to participate directly in the winemaking process by crafting a limited-edition, crowd-sourced wine – “from the vine to the bottle,” as the campaign proclaimed.

Virtual Vintner 2

The program, the Virtual Vintner Experience, was intended to introduce a unique – and historical – way for the customers to engage with the brand. The campaign offered the opportunity to increase brand awareness, customer loyalty – especially among the brand’s growing younger audiences – and, ultimately, retail sales.

As someone who spends a lot of time conjuring up action plans and campaigns for our firm’s clients, it’s always interesting to hear from another PR professional about the steps and stages of a big campaign they created for a brand. So, it was fascinating to learn of her team’s specific strategies and tactics for earned, owned and paid media. I especially enjoyed hearing about their unique pitching angles and the media relations challenge that occurred when angle No. 1, “First of its kind,” went dead in the water the week before launch because a competitor surprisingly launched a similar program. However, what I most enjoyed about Aimee’s presentation were the results. As a numbers girl in an often subjectively measured PR world – although that’s changing rapidly – measurable results are very exciting to see. Maybe you will get as excited. Here are some of La Crema’s results for the six-week campaign:

24,000 registered users for the program
15,000 newsletter subscribers
245,000 website pageviews
213,000 website engagement actions
2:30 average visitor session (100% more than the intended goal)
196 media placements
254,000,000 media reach
135% increase in online sales
12% increase in retail sales

That’s awe-inspiring! But, what really gave this presentation my vote for favorite of the conference was the information she shared on the brand’s digital content strategies and how they used a combination of sponsorship and partnership opportunities with influential bloggers and digital media. This allowed them to curate a great amount of strategic, impactful content in front of targeted audiences. Aimee also shared some fantastic insight on their influencer selection process and great data on social influence, including the “lifespan” of social content. While there are varying specifics, depending on the medium and audience size, she shared the metrics below as those her team took into consideration for post “half-life,” the amount of time it takes for a post to get 50 percent of its total engagement (i.e. the amount of time it is most relevant to intended audiences):

Twitter, 18 minutes
Facebook, 30 minutes
Instagram, 2.2 hours
YouTube, 7.4 hours
Pinterest, 3.5 months
Blog, indefinitely

I walked away from this session with a great deal of usable information. I honestly enjoyed hearing about the strategy, tactical execution and results of this very unique campaign. I was inspired to go forth and create similarly creative, strategic and successful campaigns for my clients, and isn’t that the point of an industry conference? Yes, it is.

The only thing that was missing in this 8 a.m. Tuesday morning session – as pointed out by a fellow attendee – was a wine glass and sampling of a tasty La Crema Chardonnay. I concurred.
[Images courtesy of http://www.lacrema.com/]