The Buyer
Vicky Major on the power of PR in telling a producer’s unique story

Vicky Major on the power of PR in telling a producer’s unique story

PR should be an essential part of any business plan, and a good strategy will start with identifying uniqueness.” That’s the first step the widely experienced drinks PR consultant, Vicky Major, takes when working with a new drinks client to help them identify what makes them different from their peers and what is their unique story to tell to target journalists, key trade buyers and ultimately the consumer. Here she sets out how you can identify the USPs in your business and how to make the most of them.

Vicky Major
10th April 2024by Vicky Major
posted in Opinion,

The UK drinks industry is a very competitive marketplace. Never have there been so many brands vying for inclusion in a wine list or space on the shelf. Wine from every corner of the world is now available, and consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the unending range of spirits on offer. The rapid growth of the no and low sector is very exciting, but all adds to the overwhelming choice for buyers to stock and customers to imbibe.

Brands seeking media coverage must start by identifying their unique selling points - a crucial step for a successful PR campaign.

USPs are the DNA of your brand

Vicky Major says every company needs to identify their USPs and use those to tell their story

For a product to stand out from the crowd, and differentiate from its competitors, it is vital to identify uniqueness by showcasing individuality and distinctiveness to increase share of voice and generate sales.

Businesses are now very ‘switched on’ to the commercial benefits of PR, and it is seen as more than just a vanity project.

PR should be an essential part of any business plan, and a good strategy will start with identifying uniqueness.

As a former journalist, I have an eye for spotting a news story and an understanding of what the media are looking for. However, some people may find it harder to tease out the USPs that will make the difference.

Identifying USPs

When identifying USPs don’t just focus on the products but also the business, brand and its people.

Pinpoint what you do differently that makes your product unique. Consider your approach to winemaking (for example) and how these actions, passions and beliefs impact the final product and make it different.

By identifying these USPs you will create a narrative around a product so it is seen as more than just a drink.

Drinks writers are inundated with samples, but the marrying of a great product alongside a compelling story will ensure greater cut-through in this increasingly competitive sector.

PR storytelling

People buy from people and allowing the winemaker, distiller or founder of the business to tell the story of the brand will resonate with the reader.

For example, I met with the founders of a family-owned vineyard in Wiltshire recently and was talking with one of the two brothers who run it when he told me how he believes young vine fruit is underrated and that it is not all about wine made with grapes from old vines. Bingo! This guy has an opinion and he correlates it to the wines they are making.

It’s not all about being the oldest, the biggest or the most organic, it’s relating these things to your core values and showing how this translates to the final product.

Capitalise on the best resources you have and place them front and centre in your PR campaign. It may be that you established the business, and the product might even have your name on it, but if you have employed a cerebral winemaker with a unique approach to his art, resulting in some astonishing wines, then he or she is the right voice for the brand.

The Power of PR

Some of the wine companies and clients that Vicky Major has worked with

The commercial impact of PR should not be underestimated.

If you want to grow distribution in the UK market in any channel, be that retail, on-trade or off-trade, then PR is there to support the sales and marketing objectives and increase sales.

How? By raising awareness through the media. Depending on the channel you are looking to develop, the PR strategy should be aligned with the audience you wish to target: Trade or consumer.

If the objective is to get your product listed on the wine lists of top restaurants or on the back shelf of the best bars, then your PR should be targeted at the trade publications read by sommeliers and spirits buyers. Similarly, if you are looking to target premium retailers or independent merchants then you need to reach the buyers.

Once these listings are in place it is then time to talk to the consumer media who speak to the customers you want to buy a bottle from one of these retailers or directly from your website.

Why does it work? Because an editorial placement of a product, news story or feature is a trusted, third-party endorsement from an expert. A paid-for advertisement is much less credible and often more expensive.

I have worked in the UK drinks industry for more than 20 years; initially as in-house PR manager for Berry Bros. & Rudd and independently as Major PR since 2015.

My priority is to engage key writers and critics and get them intrigued by my clients’ stories and excited about their products. My primary focus is achieving editorial content in the drinks trade publications, wine columns and consumer media.

An effective PR strategy will generate press coverage and boost sales. At the end of the day, it’s all about selling more booze!

If you would like to contact Vicky Major you can do at her website here or on email at: