Entries tagged with “PR companies”.


WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*    The price of petrol could drop by as much as R1.07 per litre on Wednesday 7 January, its largest drop ever, predicts the Automobile Association.  The price of diesel is expected to drop by 85 cents a litre.

*   Well-known UK wine writer and judge Jamie Goode has selected his top 10 South African wines:   Sadie Family Pofadder Cinsault 2012, Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013, Rall White 2012, Iona Chardonnay 2013, Savage Red 2012, Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) Mullineux Semillon Gris 2013, Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact 2011, De Morgenzon DMZ Reserve Syrah 2012, Beeslar Pinotage 2012, and Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2008.

*   The Western Province Rugby Union is likely to announce today that it is not moving to the Cape Town Stadium, and that (more…)

Wines1WineDude wine blogger Joe Roberts recently blogged about Wine Blogging, referring to the results of a 3-year study by the Burgundy School of Business, entitled ‘World Wide Wines: Digital Writing on Wine’.  The key finding of the study was that wine consumers and wine bloggers are one and the same, and that wine blogging is far from dead, Roberts writes.
Other interesting highlights about Wine Blogging from the study are:
*  the main reason for blogging by Chinese as well as American wine bloggers is sharing their passion for wine, Americans also referring to blogging as their hobby. Roberts describes bloggers as passionate wine consumers who are just more vocal about their passion digitally!
*   wine bloggers reach other bloggers and wine drinkers, bloggers’ passion for wine giving them credibility and reader interest.
*   there are an estimated 1000 wine bloggers in the USA, and about 150 in Europe.
*   only a third of wine bloggers in the USA are professional journalists, while the bulk of the balance have no wine industry job link (more…)

Crush! 32 cover-fin-2048When Michael Olivier first launched Crush! food and wine digital magazine three years ago, it was evident that he and his team had no experience in the design and publishing of a  magazine generally, and a digital magazine specifically.  We wrote critically about the first few issues, but no feedback was accepted nor reacted to, and Olivier appeared to have lost advertising revenue as a result, thus leaving the magazine about a year ago.  His departure appears to have rejuvenated the magazine, and it has improved vastly!

The response by Olivier and his Crush! writers David Cope (@Foodie_za) and Andy Fenner (@JamieWhoSA in those days) to our feedback about the magazine at that time was to create the Whalespotter Twitter defamation account led by Cope, and condoned by (more…)

Not only does Michael Olivier not declare on his blog that he is paid to write ‘reviews’ about the wines of his ‘Winery Partners’, but he also ‘writes’ blogposts about winery news that are copy-and-pasted word for word, including the headline, from media releases sent to him by the winery PR companies!

On Monday we received the following media release from De Kock Communications on behalf of their Nederburg client, announcing the wine company’s new Winemaster’s Classes, which (more…)

Yesterday I met up with a fellow writer at the Franschhoek Summer Wine festival, and we had an interesting discussion about PR companies, and how professional or mediocre they can be. Unfortunately there are many mediocre PR companies, and few truly professional ones.  Smart Communications & Events, the PR agency of the festival, was a prime example of mediocrity, with no presence at the event nor providing a media pack.

The discussion arose when the writer shared his pet peeves about PR companies, being particularly sensitive about not having been invited to a wine-related function earlier this week, yet he was sent a media release after the dinner, which highlighted that top Tweeters and Bloggers had attended the prestigious dinner at The Greenhouse, he obviously not being one, in the opinion of the PR company, he felt!  I shared a similar incident when I was not invited to the launch of a winter menu of Reuben’s in Cape Town, obviously seeing all the Tweets about it, and then received the media release whilst the lunch was on the go!  Media invitation lists are a sensitive issue, and an invitation exclusion can be held against a PR company and/or its client’s brand, especially as we were reminded by one PR company recently that it is not the communications representative but often the client that decides on the final attendance list. This can make things awkward for the PR agency, especially when they represent a number of clients in the food and wine industry.

While we were on a roll, we shared the following peeves about PR agencies:

*   not saying thank you for coverage received – a ‘thank you’ is a rare treat and much appreciated

*   being chased for coverage – attending a function is no guarantee that any writer will write about it, although one does feel obliged to write.  Most events attended are covered on Facebook and Twitter by the writers.  Many PR agencies charge their clients for the number of Tweets achieved for an event, and hence the use of the hash tag to track this easily, it was explained to me.

*   being asked to list an event on one’s ‘Events page of the blog’, even though our blog does not have such a page!

*   being asked to send a link to the PR agency when the blogpost has been written and posted, an absolute no-no!  Not all PR agencies follow one on Twitter, and are rarely ‘Likers’ on Facebook, so they don’t pick up the coverage their clients’ brands achieve on these Social Media forums.

*   being sent media releases with large format photographs in the body of the media release, and on a colour background, make it impossible to print.  The information is what counts, even though the ‘packaging’ of it does look impressive.

*   being sent media releases regularly about clients’ wine and restaurant brands, yet never having been invited to the restaurants or sent a bottle of wine to try before using the media release!  Such media releases have a very low chance of receiving coverage on a blog, and even on Facebook and Twitter.

*  functions that are too long and start too early in the day, especially day-time ones, given that most writers have paying job commitments which must take first priority, especially in summer.

*   not being introduced to fellow attendees, as not all writers know each other, the media mix changing for every function.  Name tags are rarely seen.

*   functions being held far out of Cape Town, where most writers live and work.  Many wine writers will insist on accommodation for evening functions, or a transport service, which covers the issues of drinking/driving and the cost of petrol, and usually leads to great camaraderie on board.

*   functions/launches being too similar – one takes one’s hat off to PR agencies that can find a new angle for their clients’ brands, and always search for new venues to host their clients’ functions.

When a media release was requested of the Franschhoek Summer Wines event yesterday afternoon, Franschhoek Wine Valley CEO Jenny Prinsloo contacted her PR company, and they promised to send a release.  It was the same two paragraph e-mail we had been sent to attend the function.  The PR company head said she wanted to wait for the attendance figures before she issued a media release, a total waste of effort, as most writers would write almost immediately or not at all.   The ‘release’ only contained the names of 12 of the 28 wineries participating in the festival.  Each winery only offered one white wine, Rosé, or MCC for tasting, yet there was no information provided about each of the 28 wines, and what makes them unique. With a few exceptions, it seemed as if the B Team had been sent to man the ‘stands’, which was just a wine barrel per winery.  Very few of the winery representatives offered information proactively, being pourers of wine rather than sharers of information.   Only Morena had a booklet of information one could take from its stand, always stylish with its owner Nick Davies hands-on and in attendance.  There was no information provided about the specialist tastings that formed part of the festival.

Leopard’s Leap was an ideal venue and the perfect weather helped the event greatly. Additional parking was opened up, and golf carts drove one to the entrance.  It’s a pity that a (outsourced security company) boom operator is persistently rude when one arrives at Leopard’s Leap.  The invited media guests had to buy their own food (the wine tasting was on the house), something one would rarely experience if one is the guest of an event – the petrol alone for the journey from Cape Town and back would have cost around R375.  The invitation’s description of the ‘mouth-watering deli-style food from the Harvest Table‘ was completely misleading, as they had changed their menu for the event, being chicken and a few leaves (R60), salmon quiche with a good helping of salad at R45, and a vegetarian wrap (R30), not representative of the fantastic food that The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap usually serves.  Even though we wanted to pay for an ice cream when ordering our food, payment was not taken, and consequently the ice cream had run out at 16h00, an hour before the close of the event!

The Franschhoek Summer Wine Festival was organised for the second time, by professional event organiser Darielle Robertson of DnA Events.  Franschhoek can do much better than it did yesterday to attract attendance, given its excellent track record in hosting the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, Bastille Day festival, and Franschhoek Uncorked.  It is unfortunate that the festival clashed with the Cape Town Carnival yesterday, the Spar Ladies Race this morning, and the start of the ABSA Cape Epic today, which would have kept many wine tasters from Franschhoek.  From Twitter and spending time at the festival it appeared that the media attendance was extremely low (only three we picked up), which means that it will take longer to establish the event in years to come.  We Tweeted twice only from the festival, the food and most of the stands not being attractive enough to photograph and Tweet. As a brand Franschhoek and its excellent wine estates and good restaurants are far too special and unique to be represented by a mediocre PR company!

POSTSCRIPT 8/4: Epic Communications, organisers of the publicity for the RE•CM Top Ten Year Old Wines dinner at the Greenhouse last month, sent this e-mail today: The RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Awards 2013 winners were announced at a gala dinner held in Cape Town on 14 March 2013 where valued clients and judges were treated to a three-course dinner at the award winning Greenhouse Restaurant by acclaimed chef, Peter Tempelhoff, who specially designed courses to pair with each 2013 RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Award winner.  Please see attached social images, as well as images of the dishes served on the evening and the handover of the awards.  I have also pasted below captions for the images and a press release with further information.  Would this be of interest for your blog?’ Our bogpost about the event was posted on 18 March!

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: It appears that we were removed from Smart Communications & Events media list after posting this blogpost.  We have just been added back to the list again, after sending a request to the Franschhoek Wine Valley CEO!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The current social media “wars” taking place both in the food and wine arena should be a reason for bloggers to get together, and to write a Code of Conduct for blogging.  This serious call came from Emile Joubert, a PR consultant to the wine industry, and writer of the Wine Goggle Blog, when he addressed the final and best attended meeting for this year of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club at the Grand Daddy Hotel in the Cape Town city centre.

Emile was a most entertaining speaker, and challenged wine bloggers in improving their ‘game’.  He had brought along two De Wetshof wines from Robertson-based winemaker Danie de Wet, the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as Kanonkop Pinotage, the only South African wine in a recent list of “100 most exciting wines in the world”, and a magnum of Glen Carlou Pinot Noir, which were tasted by the bloggers.   Emile praised the initiative of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, which was established in May this year.  He has seen the benefit that his wine clients have enjoyed through the increasing number of bloggers, all wine lovers with an opinion, he said.   Social media is a perfect platform for wine promotion.   Every wine has a story, he said, making it eminently ‘blogable”, unlike spirits or beer, which are more generic beverage categories.   Wines have a brand name, a culture and a personality, and these characteristics can be used to good advantage by wine bloggers.   Emile acknowledged the leadership of Mike Ratcliffe in being the first wine blogger ever, for Vilafonte, about six years ago.  

Emile was critical of wineries embracing social media by opening a Facebook page, and paying lip service to social media through poor writing on their blogs and in their Tweets, which give the wine industry a poor image, he said. He said that many wine bloggers “are more enthusiastic than talented in writing” about wine, wasting the time and space for serious wine lovers.  They are boring, he said, and if they contain spelling errors, they are an embarrassment.  He said that many bloggers are too obsessed with readership numbers, using links non-stop, no use he says if their blogs are lousy!    He encouraged bloggers to develop their “own voice”, and to create their own ‘blog brand’.   “Speak your own voice clearly, succinctly and passionately”, he urged.

Most social media programs of wineries lack a strategy, in his opinion.  He recommended that a 1/3 each of one’s action should be focused on SOCIAL, MEDIA and MARKETING.  He described the wine industry as ‘ego-sodden’ terrain, with over-intellectualisation of wines, for example, referring to wine tasting of “tar” and “figpaste”, having run out of new adjectives to describe the taste of wine!   Emile feels that bloggers will make traditional mainstream media wine writers obsolete, and that is why Neil Pendock too has taken to blogging.   He mentioned that the recent ‘Swartland Revolution’, a marketing activity by a number of Swartland wine producers in Riebeeck Kasteel to make their wine region “sexy” via social media marketing, had made TIME magazine.  

In developing a Bloggers’ Code of Conduct, Emile called firstly for anonymous comments to be disallowed, saying that this would never be allowed on a letters’ page in a newspaper.  He also called for a boycott of restaurants that ban writers!   When asked, he explained the split in the wine industry, based on wine writers being pro- or anti-Platter.   The anti-Platter writers are unhappy with sighted tastings to judge the stars awarded to each wine, as they can influence the livelihoods of those affected by lower star ratings.  He called Platter “the best phone book” for the wine industry.  It would appear that this group of writers is also critical of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), in that they feel that the monies spent on marketing South African wines is not effectively spent.  Accepting ‘freebies’, including airline tickets and more, is frowned upon, and leads the anti-Platter faction to expose their ‘colleagues’ guilty of this practice without disclosure.  This leads to backstabbing, infantile behaviour, and persons dishing out insults without being able to take them in turn. 

The Food Blogger Marisa Hendricks from The Creative Pot blog praised her Twitter and blogging friends for their friendly support and ‘chattiness’, which makes Social Media enjoyable to her. She was honest in saying that she is a ‘messy’ cook, that her family does not eat fancy food every night, and that there are irregular meal times in her household.   She focused on three aspects of a blog, in making it more successful. The design of the blog is paramount, as it expresses one’s personality. 

Secondly, food photography needs attention.  In her household photography is mainly done at night, which is complicated as far as lighting is concerned, making dishes look too yellow.  She says that cellphones are not made to give good photograph quality, and that one should choose the right camera (she uses a Cannon), read the manual that comes with the camera, and experiment with the camera settings.  Natural light is best, and it can be softened by gauze, she said.  Food should also be lit from the side, and not directly from above.   Food styling is equally important for successful photography, creating a desire of “I want to lick my screen”, she said!   Styling can be enhanced through the use of cutlery, glasses, doilies, napkins, etc.   White plates are classic in food styling, but bright plates offer a contrast for a one-colour food dish.   The styling should be natural, in how one would eat the dish.  This helps one when one submits one’s food photographs to what she called ‘foodporn” sites such as Foodgawker!  Thirdly Marisa spoke about advertising, and she only allows text-based ads.  She does not want her blog to look like a “billboard”.   She knows that advertising could be off-putting to her readers.  She also discussed affiliate links, to cookery books sold by Amazon, for example, which can work well if used properly.

In discussion it was mentioned that bloggers’ “user-generated content” is becoming more trusted for recipes and information than are recipe books and magazines.  Marisa called for better hardware to read blogs.   Disclosure of receiving free products is paramount, it was said, and PR companies should not expect bloggers to write about the products they have handed out, much like a print journalist will not guarantee that he/she will accept a media release. It was felt that one should not write about something one did not like.  

A competition amongst attendees to find the most frequent Tweeter during the two-hour Bloggers’ Club meeting led to a flood of Tweets.  Hila Jonker (who Tweets as @LadyRaven) won the prize of a bundle of fresh greens from the gardens of the wonderful new restaurant Babel at Babylonstoren.

The 2011 programme for the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club will be announced closer to the start of the new year.  The first meeting of the year will be hosted by Pigalle on 26 January.   More information is available from info@whalecottage.com.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The World Cup has always been said to have the benefit of showcasing South Africa, and the world’s media are descending on the country to prepare profiles of South Africa.  Some of it is negative, but much so far has been positive, especially in showing off the beauty of Cape Town.

A South Africa-based correspondent for SkyNEWS seems to be in the townships every day, negatively reporting about the poverty of these residents, while the ‘rich’ sector of the country benefits from the World Cup, it is highlighted continuously.

Much more positive reporting is coming from ZDF, Germany’s largest TV station, which is pulling out all the stops to showcase South Africa.  Yesterday, for example, the station did a 24 hour broadcast on its online channel, about our country, a conglomeration of various documentaries the station had produced on previous occasions.  Unfortunately an on-line broadcast is not as powerful as a television broadcast, but it will have attracted a young audience.   ZDF put a lot of advertising muscle behind the 24-hour broadcast, so it created strong awareness amongst ZDF viewers.   The country brand ‘Suedafrika’ is definitely top of mind. 

However, 90 minutes of the on-line broadcast was broadcast on ZDF TV throughout the day, in three sets of 30 minutes each.   The programme started with beautiful shots of Table Mountain, and then of Cape Town filmed from Table Mountain.   It was said that a trip up the mountain by cable car is a must for every visitor.   Then the documentary jumped in contrast to a school in Wuppertal, showing children in a boarding school having to brush their teeth in an irrigation canal, because there are not enough facilities in the hostel for all the children.  Then it moved to showing burning tyres, set alight by taxi drivers protesting against the new BRT bus system to be introduced.   A township resident was interviewed, who positively stated that he would never leave his township : ‘I do not want to change my life for anything’, despite the poor facilities in the township.   Children receiving a swimming lesson in Khayelitsha were filmed, and a sangoma throwing the bones interviewed.   Then the production team interviewed Pieter-Dirk Uys, who initially spoke in German, but switched to English when he spoke about how dangerous it was for him to have mocked the Government when he first started, and melodramatically stated that had he been black, he would have been imprisoned!  (He did not tell the interviewer that he has declared Evita se Perron in Darling soccer-free during the World Cup!).

Then the action moved to Captain Crash, who chases after stolen cars and minibus taxis in his helicopter (I have seen this insert twice already), and then to a Soweto-based Event Manager Tshepiso Mohlala, who is involved in the organisation of the World Cup Concert on 10 June.   A lot of airtime was given to a German wedding co-ordinator from Wedding Concepts, who was organising a wedding at Allee Bleue outside Franschhoek.

Capetonian and ex-Miss South Jo-Ann Strauss features regularly in a ZDF TV advert for the World Cup Concert, from which Strauss and revered ZDF talk-show host Thomas Gottschalk will be presenting for ZDF.  She speaks near-perfect German, her partner being from Munich, saying: ‘Suedafrika begruesst die Fussballwelt’ (South Africa welcomes the football nations).

Other programmes, like ‘Traumstaedte’ (Dream Cities), start off positively, with beautiful views of Camps Bay beach, the Promenade, the Bay Hotel, the Waterfront, but soon move to the townships, and interviews are conducted with extremely negative residents, talking about the crime and drug situation in the townships.   The ZDF reporters talk about Cape Town’s ‘Hell and Paradise’ not the lasting impression we would like to create marketing-wise amongst international viewers.

‘Traumflug durch Afrika: Von Kapstadt nach Kenia’ (Dream flight through Africa: from Cape Town to Kenya) was far more positive, documenting a Eurocopter pilot flying over beautiful Cape Town (Table Mountain and Cape Point), flying 3 meters above the sea, the Garden Route to George and Knysna for some golf and oysters at the Dry Dock restaurant, to the Addo Park for a safari, to St Francis, Coffee Bay, the Hole in the Wall, and then off to Lesotho, reaching his end destination of Kenya. 

In a cooking program with some of Germany’s top chefs, the cooking stars all wore German soccer jerseys, to show their pride in and support for the German team, indirectly attracting attention to the World Cup.

Given that Cape Town Tourism has appointed PR companies in Germany and the U K, and in other European countries, we trust that the city’s tourism body will help influence the content of documentaries of our city, and that they show the tourist side of Cape Town, without having to focus so much on the townships.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com