Wine…With a record deal

We’re used to celebrities coming out with perfumes. But wine? This is a new concept to me, only brought to my attention this past weekend. Apparently, musicians Train (think that “Hey, Soul Sister” song that was constantly infiltrating your thoughts earlier this year) and Dave Matthews Band have slapped their names on some bottles and placed them on shelves for our consumption.

I tend to avoid similarly branded celebrity products, such as perfumes. And not just because I once smelled Paris Hilton’s perfume. But because, I don’t know, I’d just feel silly. I get that the whole point is for fans to buy the stuff. Obviously I’m not going to buy products from a celebrity I don’t like. So it seems, when it comes down to it, what you’re paying for is a taste of a celebrity’s image, rather than quality. (I’m looking at you, Hilton.) But when it comes to wine, isn’t it what’s in the bottle that counts?

Now I’m a “don’t knock it til you try it” kind of girl. And according to this rundown Dave Matthews Band’s product is quite good. But it seems that these wines don’t sell because of how delicious they are, but more so because of who made them. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t seem likely that Train’s train of thought (heh) was “Let’s create a high-quality wine for wine lovers to enjoy”. In fact, they even say so themselves: “We’re not really trying to get into the wine business or anything. It’s really kind of helping to spread the name out there, and something for our fans.” Mmmm, delicious.

When you get past the fandom, it just seems like you’re left with…publicity for [insert celebrity name here] in a bottle. If that tastes delicious to you, go ahead and buy. I’m not judging. The day Ryan Gosling starts making wine, I’ll be the first in line.

(Photo by HybridSys found here.)

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The writing’s on the (Facebook) wall

On the internet, “tweeting” isn’t for the birds. Writing on someone’s “wall” doesn’t mean graffiti. “Poking” isn’t a flirting tactic for six-year-olds. Social media is so ingrained in today’s society that such terms take on a whole new meaning.

According to Brian Solis, social media has become “part of our cultural fabric”. And the numbers don’t lie. Social media and blogging accounts for nearly 25% of Americans’ internet use. Skeptics risk becoming laggards if they don’t hop onto to the social media wave. (Mom, Dad, I’m talking to you.)

Never far behind, businesses are now wielding social media as a tool to communicate and promote to audiences. In the past year or so, I’ve noticed a company’s Facebook page appearing at the end of commercials, in place of a website address. Why wouldn’t they? That’s where their entire audience is hanging out, communicating, and influencing each other. With 800 million users, Facebook is now the size of the entire internet in 2004. If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will. Way to go Zuckerberg.

When it comes to business, social media just makes things feel a bit more… real. Whereas consumers might not visit a business’s website to avoid feeling brainwashed by blatant promotion, a company’s Facebook is a bit more inviting. Here, you might get a more genuine sense of the brand: how they are interacting with consumers, and how consumers respond. Starbucks’ Facebook page shows it has 25,758,716 “likes”. How’s that for one hell of a testimonial?

Social media creates a kind of “open door policy” between consumers and businesses. A company’s Facebook page allows real people’s words (good or bad) to be attributed to their business. I’ve seen a company’s Twitter respond to a user regarding something they tweeted about its product. Perhaps they feel a bit more accountable, as consumers now have a platform to shout out their opinions, to which others are actually paying attention.

Folks, we are in the midst of a revolution of communication, both socially and in business. And it seems are though it’s here to stay. People like the power they’ve been given to share their thoughts and interests with others. Who’s willing to give that up any time soon?

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Biodynamic Wine– Great or Gimmick?

In the past few months, I’ve noticed the term “biodynamic wine” popping up more and more. I’m no expert, and I don’t believe I’ve ever consumed a wine labeled “biodynamic,” but after the results of my research…I don’t think I’m breaking down the door to get to a bottle just yet.

The concept of biodynamics was founded by Rudolph Steiner, a Hungarian philosopher, social reformer, architect and esotericist. (And so the skepticism begins…) According to an article by Etty Lewensztain, Steiner believed that “the success of a vineyard depends on the interrelationship between the soil, plants, animals and other organisms on a farm.” Additionally, such wines are produced without the use of chemical sprays and artificial preservatives. Good things, I’d say.

However, Lewensztain loses me a bit when she goes on to state that biodynamic practitioners “bury manure-filled cows’ horns among vineyards and plant the vines according to the phases of the moon, in keeping with the astronomical calendar.” Hmmm. I don’t know if I’ll ever select a wine based on it being in tune with celestial bodies, to be honest.

I understand the inclination to buy organic wine. Who wants unneeded chemicals in their glass? But biodynamic…? The wine industry may just be getting a little too creative for me. Unlike standards for organic products, biodynamics seems to leave things too open for interpretation. Skeptics may be a little more comfortable learning of the biodynamic tactics that contribute to a high-quality product. Presently, I believe there’s too much reliance on the belief that biodynamics is made up of mystic and spiritual concepts, which skeptics may not necessarily buy into when it comes to wine.

If you value the biodynamic theory, then go right ahead. But as for me, who’s a bit more skeptical, I’m eager to learn what the biodynamic practice does for what I’m drinking. Is it just a lot of special, fancy things happening at the producers’ end, but never manifesting itself in the glass?

You see, I have some trust issues with the food/beverage industry and its straightforwardness, or lack thereof. Much like the food industry’s claims of  “all natural”, “made with real fruit” and “good source of fiber” products, many labels are virtually meaningless. It can be difficult to remember that even the products we consume are vulnerable to tricky tactics to make them more appealing to buyers. Producers know they’ve struck gold when they’ve convinced us a label means a product is “healthy”, or in the case of biodynamics, “trendy.”

I’m not attempting to discredit the practice of biodynamics. But in my humble public relations-inclined opinion, I think that it is in the producers’ best interest to inform the public of what the label means for what’s in the bottle, and of its legitimate standards of certification.

I won’t turn down the chance to try a biodynamic glass. But I’m not hopping on the biodynamic train just yet. Unless, of course, it’s also labeled “Certified Delicious.”

Photo by MEJones found here.

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It’s who you know.

So I’m freaking out a bit. I graduate in two months. After years of figuring I’d leave my public relations degree on the shelf to instead pursue law, I’m rethinking my plan.  Why did I wait until now to realize it just might be public relations, not law, that I’m passionate about?

Of course, this leaves me with no internship experience, something I’m realizing more and more is pretty dang important. Thus, it’s articles like this, proclaiming at least one internship to be an essential prerequisite to finding a job, that really freak me out. After years of work experience in law firms, I feel like my resume will only make public relations professionals say “meh.” Have I completely sabotaged myself from ever having a career in public relations? I mean, I finally realized that this is field is for me… Better late than never, right?

As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Now I realize my fellow students who have completed these internships will STILL have a leg up on me. But some networking on my part couldn’t hurt, right?

So that’s when this article, courtesy of Derek DeVries, descends from the heavens and reminds me that there are other ways to make an impact on potential employers and contacts in the public relations field. DeVries goes into detail on just how to begin networking, not only on the internet, but in person as well.

Actively networking in person. While it is arguably more impactful than networking online, I had never really thought about it, to be honest. I guess I figured that was the kind of thing that just fell in to your lap. Not so much.

DeVries suggests attending professional events to pursue potential contacts. But being satisfied making a small cameo isn’t enough. DeVries outlines a “toolkit” to make you a standout at events. Two of the tools that stood out the most to me were business cards and prior research for small talk ammunition. Not only would I benefit from actually having something to say, but leaving them with a souvenir of the experience isn’t a bad idea either.

It’s articles like these that remind me all is not lost. I just might have a chance in the public relations world.

(Photo by FOTOCROMO found here.)

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Hey everyone! My name is Dawn Noufer, I’m a senior studying public relations at the University of Oregon. I’ve been told forever that blogging is the thing to do, but I suppose I’ve always been a little intimidated. So here I am, taking the leap. I’m a serious lover of food and wine, so this blog will be a combination of that passion, as well as my knowledge and interest in public relations.

Food and wine have always been a central part of my family. My father is a bona fide foodie-wine lover and he’s passed that along to me. But it’s a little bit more than that. Being that my immediate family lives in Hawaii and my other relatives all live on the “mainland” (as we Hawaiians call it) it’s a rare occasion to get us all in one place at one time. However, in recent years, we have all been gathering in Sonoma, CA for the annual Wine & Food Affair. So for me, good times with family go hand in hand with food and wine.

Anyway, so “what is a decanter?” Well, a decanter is a glass vessel that one may pour a bottle of wine into prior to drinking. What that does is aerate the wine, letting it “breathe”, smoothing  out the texture a bit. So basically, this is the place for my thoughts to “breathe” a bit as well. Life can be pretty hectic so I’m learning to stop and smell the Pinot Noir.

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