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Wine bloggers risk becoming "dinosaurs" unless they become more professional hears DWCC

Published:  01 November, 2014

Wine bloggers and communicators need to raise their game and become more professional or risk becoming "dinosaurs" and out of touch not only with the wine trade but with the consumers they are trying to talk to.

That was the stark warning issued at the Digital Wine Communications Conference in Montreux yesterday by a panel of experts analysing the future role of wine bloggers.

Louise Hurren says bloggers need to Louise Hurren says bloggers need to 'grow up and pro up'Wine bloggers need to understand what value and reputation they have to be taken seriously, warned Louise Hurren

Louise Hurren, who runs her own marketing and PR consultancy, said it was time for bloggers to "grow up and pro up". To succeed as a blogger in the future you have to "put your business hat on" and treat your blog in the same way anybody else would behave in a full time job.

"You need to be professional about it," she stressed. Set up a schedule of how many times you plan to post new blogs and stick to it. Treat your blog as seriously as any published magazine does and post regularly and "not when you feel like it or can be arsed".

She also urged bloggers to understand and recognise their place in the wine industry and ask themselves what value are you offering and  not just what you can get out of it.

Hurren also gave an insight in to the cost involved in taking bloggers and journalists on press trips and the expectation there will be that on those that go. She estimated the average three day wine trip might cost up to 1,000 euros a head and if a blogger accepts an invitation there will be an expectation they will produce something on their return.

"How many bloggers actually understand how the wine trade works?" she asked. "If you don't understand how the industry works, how can you write about it."

She urged bloggers to start reading the main wine trade publications like Harpers and understand the business of wine and not just how it is made.

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Over 300 delegates have travelled from around the world for this year's digital and communications conference

Robert Joseph, the wine commentator and critic who also runs his own blog, said too many bloggers were essentially covering the same ground, and not standing out from each other to be worth reading. He questioned, for example, how many bloggers had even written about the recent accounting scandal at Tesco and the implications on the wider wine industry after the suspension of Tesco's head of wine Dan Jago.

He said bloggers could be split in to three camps; the self-funding, rich blogger who are effectively "keeping a diary in public"; the blagger blogger who just like going on trips; and the blogger who is actually paid to write posts and lives in a separate commercial world.

Hurren said perceptions of bloggers within the trade have changed considerably in the last seven years. Back in 2007 she would find it very hard to convince a wine producer to invest in bringing a blogger over on a wine trip. They would not see the value in doing so. By around 2010 bloggers had become "accommodated" within the trade, if not exactly fully embraced.

But then around a couple of years ago certain bloggers suddenly became very fashionable and moved to "rock star" status and "we were worshipping at the altar of the blogger".

But now the jury was once again out on the role of the blogger. "To avoid being seen as irrelevant or a dinosaur you have to work at how to manage your reputation,"  she explained.

Evelyn Resnick, media consultant, argued there was certainly a place for bloggers providing they were adding value, and were "influential voices" on social media as well as their own blogs. She urged wine producers not to take bloggers "for granted" and for them to take them as seriously as wine journalists and they need to be "seduced" so that they will write about you.

She called for a healthier, more professional relationship between producers and bloggers.

Dr Damien Wilson, head of the MSC in wine business at the Burgundy School of Business, said  the early days of blogging were "healthy" and were informative and interactive, but are they still serving the purpose from when they first set out? "Are they creating discussion, are they creating a voice to be heard?" he asked.

Robert Joseph