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Each year, since 2009, Jose and I not only watch who’s a leading innovator, but we also feel, as seasoned veterans, it behooves us to call attention to someone within the wine industry who demonstrates serious innovative leadership.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, it was pretty easy to see innovation leaders… those who were creating new developments for others to utilize and enjoy:

For 2012, we’ve not found that silver bullet for new creation; however, we’ve seen someone who is the current leading, in-house multimedia content creator in our industry; someone who is completely taking advantage of what those above have developed.

Jose and I are pleased to announce that Lisa Mattson of Jordan Winery is the 2012 Diaz Communications Innovator of the Year Award. With her expertise being fully utilized at Jordan Winery, Lisa joins the ranks of who we’ve watched develop into top industry innovators.

Lisa’s background created a perfect storm for having her become a one-of-a-kind; and, Jordan Winery was smart enough to know that they needed such a person. When they found each other, Jordan Winery was steeped in tradition; and, in my humble opinion as a marketer, possibly less like to take advantage of the new world of social media. However, something – whatever it was – changed all of that. Today, Lisa has become the one person that the earliest innovations were setting her up to become. Brilliant enough to use all the new tools set before her, Jordan Winery was equally astute in allowing her to bloom within their hallowed halls.

The questions and ansswers that follow will give you all you need to know about why Lisa is so deserving of recognition.

[Q]  What is your background and how did you come to work at Jordan Winery?

[LISA]  I actually grew up in rural Kansas drinking Busch beer from a can. I thought Jack Daniels was for rich people. The odds that I would have ended up dedicating my life to the wine business were probably 1 in 100,000. I always knew in high school that I wanted to be in communications–writing, public relations–something like that. After a bad winter in 1994, I left Kansas State University and moved to South Florida for some sunshine. I transferred to Florida International University, and its JMC school shared a campus with a highly regarded hospitality school. Because I’d been waiting tables since age 15, I figured minoring in the hospitality school was a good idea. They offered wine classes. I enrolled and was hooked. I’ve worked in the wine business for 15 years–since I was 23. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’m lucky to have figured out in college that being happy at work and in life requires figuring out what you are good at and then doing that job within an industry you’re passionate about. Every job I’ve had rounded my communications background and opened a door to another opportunity in the wine world. I’ve gone from wine magazine editor to wine distributor public relations manager to wine events manager to wine PR director to my current job as communications director at Jordan–where I get to use all the skills I’ve honed since my first wine job in 1997.

My biography

[Q]  What exactly is your position at Jordan and what is the range of the activities you perform?

[LISA]  Because we are a family wine business, most employees wear a lot of hats. While all of my responsibilities involve communications and marketing, there’s still a wide range of fun things I get to do every month. I write copy for the direct-to-consumer email blasts, I shoot and direct videos, I take photographs, I write copy for the website and all marketing materials, I write press releases, I handle all media requests, I develop messaging and presentations for the sales force, I work on product packaging, I edit recipes for our chef, I write blog posts, I analyze our traffic trends to our website and blog, I post photos to Twitter and Facebook. It’s everything from traditional marketing and traditional public relations to direct digital marketing and new media. I’m a content creator. And I’m lucky to have two people on my staff–one marketing manager and one digital media coordinator–who help orchestrate the marketing projects and social media administration.

[Q]  What do you consider your professional strengths in your position?

[LISA] 

  • Detail orientation
  • Strategic/great critical thinking skills
  • Always willing to try something new and embrace change
  • Diversity of skill sets–pitching stories, prepping spokespeople for TV and print interviews but also the ability to shoot and direct videos, use a DSLR camera, master an iPad, etc.

Having the ability and drive to do all communications functions in this digital age is critical for a PR person working at a mid-sized family business.

[Q]  How do you measure success in social media?

[LISA]  Social media is just another extension of public relations–PR for the UGC/direct communication era. Determining ROI for traditional PR and ROI for social media is one in the same for us. It’s about getting impressions–getting the brand out there in the right context in ways that make people want to go purchase a bottle of Jordan — or remember a Jordan video, blog post, Facebook photo or wine column recommendation next time they are browsing a wine list or retail shelf.

Jordan only makes two wines and they cost more at the winery than in the marketplace. Our direct business is less than 5 percent, so our focus is not to generate sales off social media directly to justify it. But we do have people comment on Twitter and Facebook that they just bought a bottle of Jordan due to a tweet of a video or some photo they saw–the same way that consumers read a newsletter or magazine and then tell us they bought a bottle because of that mention.

Some tools ….

  • VinTank Winery Index
  • Facebook analytics (talking about this, impressions)
  • YouTube analytics (number of views, retention)
  • Blog (traffic, traffic per post, time per post)

[Q]  How do you handle criticism of a company online?

[LISA]  We don’t get criticized often, but I handle it just like any customer service complaint. Listen. Don’t take offense. Be friendly, honest and helpful. State the facts. Thank them for taking the time to comment. I always make the customer walk away impressed with professionalism whenever I can, whether it’s in the winery lobby or on Twitter.

[Q]   What would you consider your most creative project at Jordan Winery?

[LISA]  Creating our annual magazine, Estate Tales, from concept to delivery: The Jordan Winery Newsletter

Also, developing new video concepts and the messaging and editing process behind those videos.

[Q]  Do you have someone that has inspired you professionally?

[LISA] 

  • Leslie Sbrocco (writing, branding, public speaking)
  • Bret Lyman (videography)
  • Damon Mattson (photography)
  • Eric Asimov and Patrick Comiskey (writing)

[Q]  How do you decompress/unplug from your job?

[LISA]  I edit the manuscript to my upcoming book, “The Exes in my iPod: a Playlist of the Men who Rocked me to Wine Country.”

Glass of bubbly and a soak in the hot tub with my husband

But honestly, I don’t think I ever unplug from work. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.

[Q]  When it’s all said and done, what lasting impression do you want to leave with the work you do at Jordan Winery?

[LISA]  That we’ve been able to take a stolid brand and breathe new life and excitement into it. We’ve brought the people behind the wines to the forefront and connected them to customers and consumers in a very vivid and unfiltered way…. That we’ve successfully integrated new media into a very traditional, conservative brand without compromising our brand image or elegance.

 Congratulations, Lisa Mattson… You’re so deserving of recognition…

This post originally appeared in Wine-Blog.org

Seven Traits of a Good Keynote SpeakerMaybe it’s because we just saw a slew of them at the national political conventions, or perhaps it’s because we see them at many conferences we attend; in many cases, it’s events we organize where we have to search out an appropriate keynote speaker to headline the sessions. Whatever the reason, keynote speakers are integral to any gathering of professionals looking to further themselves with knowledge and networking.

A good keynote speech should inspire and unify an audience with a common purpose. He or she should also provide direction for the conference purposes and goals. This sets the tone for the event; which can launch a conference with clarity or, at its worst, move it forward with non-existent or muddled ideas.

Here’s how we judge keynote speakers:

  1. Grasp the overall purpose of the conference
    • This seems like a no brainer, but we’ve seen many keynote speakers who essentially use a speech at a conference simply to sell themselves, rather than further the theme of the event. If you’ve been hired and paid as a keynote speaker, the sale has been made and there’s no need to continue to sell who you are.  What you need to do is to sell the theme of the event.  A good keynote speech should be global in nature, inspiring, pragmatic, and memorable. If this is done, who you are (professionally and personally) will be clear.
  1. A singular focus on the target audience
    • The successful keynote speaker always knows at which level to approach the audience.  If you assess an audience properly, you’ll hit that “sweet spot” where you establish rapport, credibility, and attention to the message you’re trying to impart. If you underestimate the audience, you’ll generate boredom; if you overestimate, confusion will result. A good keynote speaker will work closely with the organizer of the event, to make sure he or she knows as much as possible about the psychographics of the audience they’ll be addressing.
  1. Know the value of entertainment
    • Humor can be the lubricant of good speeches. Having said that, make sure you’ve done your homework on number two.  Misplaced humor can be deadly.  Properly presented, humor and anecdotes will yield greater acceptance of your message.
  1. Minimize the use of props
    • Many keynote speakers suffer from TMI (Too Much Information).  Yes, you should substantiate factual statements and images can help to drive a point home, but complex spreadsheets and crowded text pieces can dull your messages. The best keynote speakers use minimal props and let their words do the heavy lifting.
  1. Understand the value of pacing in a talk
    • It’s been said that a keynote speech can be as long as 45 minutes, or as short as 20 minutes. The pacing is more important than the length.  A frenzied pace will exhaust the audience and a slow, laborious pace will put them to sleep.  Variety is the spice of life and; when it comes to keynote speeches, variety of pacing is essential.  A good keynote speaker knows
      when to ramp up the intensity, and when to soften the presentation to keep interest. If you plan to include a Q&A segment in a keynote speech, never end with it; always make sure to do a wrap up and control the message with the final words.
  1. Personalize the theme of the event with real stories
    • For the duration of a keynote speech you have to build a relationship with the audience. There has to be an atmosphere of trust engendered. There’s no better way to do that than to share personal observations. This helps the audience to see that you’re a real person with life experiences, emotions, and lessons learned. When you personalize segments of a speech and show passion for your topic, you have a better chance of selling the principles you’re trying to convey. Some of the best keynote speakers will openly admit they don’t know everything, but what they know has worked.
  1. Simplify the keynote message into a call to action
    • If an audience doesn’t walk away with at least one to three main actionable concepts, then the keynote speaker has failed. Establish a set of ideas early and flesh them out throughout the speech with facts, personal stories, and/or observations. There’s an age old format for public speaking:
      • Tell them what you are going to tell them
      • Tell them
      • Tell them what you told them

A good keynote speaker will leave an audience with methods by which to incorporate the messages into their personal or business lives. Quite often, the messages can be personalized simply by leaving the audience with two to three questions that they have to answer for themselves. In this case, each individual can find a personalized mode of action as they answer the questions in their own context.

After experiencing many speakers in action, these are just a few of the key points by which we judge them. You may have some additional observations about keynote speakers.  If so, we’d love to hear them.

If you are in the wine industry, you know that the request for wine donations is a common occurrence. Perhaps it’s the social aspect of wine that makes it a higher demand item for donations versus shoes or telephones.  Not only can wine supplement the fundraising aspect of an event, but it can also create the mood that will allow the bidders to bid high. So quite often the wine requested is not only for an auction, but to also grace the table of the guests.

There is no denying the symbiotic relationships between non profits and wineries when it comes to wine donations.  In an article published in the Napa Valley Register, many non profits said wine donations are vital to their operations. In fact, in answering the question: How important are donations from wineries are to the fundraising efforts of your nonprofit organization?

  • 58 percent of responding nonprofits said wine donations were “very important.”
  • 36 percent said they were “somewhat important.”
  • 96 percent of responding Napa County nonprofits said the wine donations were very or somewhat important.

It is so prevalent that in a Q&A on LinkedIn, the question was asked: “When contacting people for wine donations for events, should I contact the wineries themselves, or should I get in touch with their wine consultants?” Eventbrite even has a how to guide called: “How to Get Wineries to Donate to Your Event.”

When it comes to winery side of equation, wine donations are not only seen as goodwill that benefits the community, but a real marketing benefit akin to a consumer tasting.  Savvy wineries understand good public service is good marketing.

The problem comes when the requests are endless and from all directions. How do you choose which requests to fulfill and which to deny?  How can you manage expectations so that those rejected understand why?

One of our clients, Oak Knoll Winery, has addressed this challenge in a very clear and succinct manner that allows the winery to continue the donation process with fairness and direction.  They have created a charitable giving page on their website.  All requests will be funneled through this page for requests.

The key component of this page specifies their “Mission of Charitable Contributions” which is “…toward causes of promoting and supporting the needs of children, cancer research, awareness and patient support, and improving our local community.”

Additionally, they provide a Charitable Donation Request for a nonprofit to fill out with their request. The form asks a series of questions that brings the request to the winery fully qualified with key information.

Finally, if a donation is not possible, they also offer Special Pricing for 503(c) 3 Organizations.  Essentially, this fallback position doesn’t leave the nonprofit high and dry if they have a small budget for wine. They offer clearly stated lower price ranges, for which their wine can be purchased.

We thought this approach deserved recognition because it manages expectations (on both sides) and still continues the flow of donations to deserving nonprofits. Other notable formats we’ve seen lately include Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Naked Winery.

If you are winery is being bombarded by requests for wine donations on a daily and/or weekly basis, you can spend more of your time making and selling wine, as opposed to trying to manage donations indiscriminately, if you adopt a similar program.