My previous job as associate editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine provided integral perspective for my career at Padilla. Sure, working for a wine, spirits and lifestyle magazine helped hone my writing chops and allowed me to learn about beverage trends—two vital assets of a communication account executive—but most importantly, it allowed me to understand the inner workings of editorial operations. Now, as an account executive whose job requires constant story pitching to media, I can use this experience to my advantage.
Having sat through an abundance of pitch meetings was invaluable. I learned what editorial teams desire in a story idea. For starters, a catchy but not salesy intro, an overall concise email with a conversational tone, an “ask” that’s not too demanding and allows journalists to get something in return (the power of product samples!), and an overall understanding of what makes a compelling story.
Pitch meeting experience also helped toughen my skin as a communication executive, particularly understanding that I shouldn’t take an unresponsive journalist personally. (I’ve been an unresponsive editor before—sorry, freelancers and public relations executives.) There are often 20, 30 or more pitches for editors to discuss at a meeting. Just because editors don’t respond doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, it might mean they don’t have room for the story at that moment or they are simply inundated with similar pitches from freelancers and other PR executives. (Pro tip: Ask journalists what stories/topics they are working on to inform your pitches.) Following up with editors with an additional spin on the original story—rather than a pushy regurgitation of the first email—might prompt more interest in the article. I know this, because this is how I liked being approached as an editor.Pro tip: Ask journalists what stories/topics they are working on to inform your pitches.Click To Tweet
But wait, there’s more! Another experience that has been instrumental in my wine communication career is my Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) certified sommelier credential. When I embarked on my level 1 and level 2 CMS degrees, I knew I wasn’t pursuing them in order to work the floor at a prestigious restaurant. I did it for the book knowledge and tasting proficiency that the coursework would impart.
When working for clients that are international wine regions, already comprehending their wines from a physical and encyclopedic vantage is essential. The knowledge gleaned from studying for the exams also allows me to better connect with wine writers. I can talk the talk, and correspond with them on a more cerebral level.
Ultimately, there’s no universal path to take for guaranteed success in wine communication. But for me, leveraging my previous editorial experience and sommelier credentials has armed me with the tools to understand the industry inside and out, and approach wine communication in a well-rounded fashion.
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