Here is the kind of invitation I loathe. It begins innocuously enough: “It’s going to be 98 degrees in NYC tomorrow! The perfect night to try our new Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc.” It’s even okay in paragraph two: “Please join us in celebrating the release of our two new wines Parlay Rosé of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc at the Art Directors Club in New York City tomorrow Thursday, June 9th at 6:30 pm.”
But then comes the disturbing line: “If you would be interested in posting about Parlay Wine or this event on your site we would be happy to provide you with a complimentary ticket to the event.” I don’t know the folks at Parlay Wine – never heard of them until I received this invitation and read on their Web site that they are based in Brooklyn and put their label on a small line of California wines.
The first thing for them to know is that I don’t “post” about events in isolation. I occasionally write about events in the context of wines that I think are noteworthy. Second, there is no way for me to know if I’d be interested in writing about the company or its wines until I taste them. Third, I never, ever make deals with wine companies or their representatives to write about their wines in exchange for “complimentary” tickets to events or samples or anything else. And fourth, I rarely attend events – dinners, lunches, new-release parties – on behalf of individual wine companies. (Think about it for a minute. What if I don’t like your wines and we’re sitting across from each other at lunch. Kind of awkward, wouldn’t you say?) I do, however, attend events sponsored by wine regions, which typically feature a range of wines from a number of producers.
So, how can you make me interested? If you’re Parlay Wine, for example, first tell me a little bit about your company, including your business model (what’s a Brooklyn company doing selling California wines?). Let me know that you’re holding an event that I might find interesting, showcasing your new releases, and that this would be an opportunity for me to taste them. Above all, avoid the word “if,” as in “if you would be interested in posting ... we would be happy to provide you with a complimentary ticket to the event.” For journalists, it is a dirty word, suggesting that coverage can be bought. Lastly, take a look at my site, and you’ll get a sense of the mix of content I am interested in and the tone I take. In just a few minutes, you’ll realize that a ticket to your event in exchange for a post is not something I would care to be involved in.