Think before you ask

Monday, 26 August, 2013
Shante Hutton,
We’ve all got dreams; a budding desire to produce something extraordinary. None more so than event planners and PR agencies but amidst the rigmarole of organizing said triumph, one can forget to use logic.
The wine industry is luscious and magical but it’s not sustained by a Unicorn farting out gold coins. It’s hard work, brutal toiling and the ability to take a fair whack of criticism straight on the chin (you’ll notice that a lot of wine makers have very firm chins). Therefore, when it comes to working alongside a winery, or asking for their participation in an event - be it through sponsorship or a simple donation - you’ve got to know what you are actually asking of them.

So we've compiled a list to aid in better relations with wineries and even though it may get the back up of a number of people, I suspect it will have far more whooping in the stalls.

Consider this a guideline, but ignore it at your peril.

When sending an email:

  • Find out who is responsible and address the correspondence accordingly. To-whom-it-may-concern just says you were too lazy to bother finding out who is making the decision.
  • Do not send the proposal to every person in the company, you’re wasting valuable time.
  • Do not expect an answer if you send it to every other company and it’s so obvious that the recipient is merely one of many who have been approached.
  • Do not expect an answer if you addressed the mail to Peter of Peter’s Wines, while the correct person is Lance of Lance’s Wines.
  • Spell check your mail before sending, this is a professional request/proposal after all.
  • Do not get abusive because someone cannot help you/ does not respond fast enough - in the chain of priorities, yours is probably the least pressing, accept it.
For Sponsorship:
  • No, a wine brand will not sponsor a beer festival – seriously?
  • Do not ask for a sponsor without any supporting reasons.
  • Make it clear how the winery will benefit.
  • Wineries receive hundreds of requests every week - think it through:  if this was your winery, would you give the wine away to this event/occasion?  Would you sponsor R 250,000 for a party (this type of request by budding party-planners is increasing rapidly).
  • Last-minute requests almost never get taken seriously.
  • If a winery has supported you once this year, please don’t approach them again – and make sure the other departments know who the current donors are.
  • It might well be a fantastic event but giving away free stock to 400+ people is not beneficial. Hardly anyone will notice what they are drinking at a function, only that they are drinking. Remember, welcome drinks are handed out in a glass, not in a bottle with a label on it.
  • There has to be some sort of exchange offered – an opportunity for both sides to succeed.
  • Charities often ask for donations and whilst it’s great that they are organizing events, most wine farms are already involved with a lot of charity work closer to home and are made to feel guilty by not supporting every request that comes their way.
  • Every time you blink there is another auction, golf day, art studio opening, wedding shop opening.  The gowns cost R1000’s but the bubbly must be sponsored? 
  • A ‘thank you’ afterwards does mean a lot, especially if it’s handwritten and mailed.
Remember, in the words of a prolific wine legend, "wine producing entails spending a year growing grapes, another year (or two) in the cellar, buying bottles, labels, boxes, sales and marketing expenses, transport and warehousing just to have the honour of giving the product away (and paying to have it delivered) to "sponsor" someone's event!"

If getting the caterer to sponsor the food, a luxury hotel to give the rooms and Bentley to ride in with a few free automobiles, for free sounds crazy, then why does free wine seem like a good idea?