how not to cook a wolf

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two promotional wine and food events were on my calendar last night, and as the evening played out, they rather neatly defined the very best and very worst of PR efforts.

Early in the evening one of my favorite Seattle wine bars – The Local Vine – hosted a “Sparkling Wine Celebration”. The invitation came via e-mail well in advance, promising guests “the opportunity to taste Grand Marque Champagnes, Grower Champagnes, California sparkling, Spanish Cava and other hard-to-find effervescent selections from around the world.” It spoke of complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and special prices on all the wines being poured. The event was also open to the public (at $55 per person).

Along with the general press release came this note from the PR organizer:

“In addition to informing you about the celebration, I’d like to extend a personal and cordial invitation for you to attend a hosted pre-event reception from 5-6 p.m. You’ll get a chance to sample all the wines being poured before the crowd arrives.” This was followed up, as promised, with a reminder a few days later, and when I confirmed that I would attend, a final note arrived, with this helpful advice:

“We look forward to seeing you this Thursday at The Local Vine. It’s going to be a great turnout and you’ll get to enjoy some terrific Champagne and other sorts of bubbly. The reception for media will be from 5:00 to 6:00 and then you’ll be welcome to stay around afterward (although I’d really encourage you to show up at 5:00 because the party is sold out and the wine bar will become crowded later in the evening). During the hour for media, you’ll be able to leisurely taste the different sparkling wines and easily ask questions of Sarah and the rest of the staff. Also, regarding parking, please note there is a parking garage right next to The Local Vine (we unfortunately cannot validate), and that street parking is also an option, although sometimes hard to come by.”

As it happens, another invitation arrived, for a restaurant preview that same evening. From a different PR firm, this one touted a soft opening for a restaurant called Revel, offering “urban street food” in the Fremont neighborhood. After a couple of generic blasts about the owners, the food, etc, came a final e-mail, headlined “Join Revel for a Bit of Revelry – Thursday Night Open House.” The body of the e-mail carried this note: “If you’re having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online” (see it online provided a link).

Well yes, in fact, there was no other content in the email, so I clicked the link. The online page was no better or different. A blank. But an acquaintance had sent me another note, explaining that “The plan is to make it a somewhat casual meet and greet. It will go from 5-10 pm with appetizers and a limited drink menu. Please let me know if you and a guest will be able to attend.”

Two invitations, each promising a preview look at an inviting nightspot. The event at the Local Vine? A+. It delivered as promised in all regards. The room is inviting, the wines being poured ranged from $10 Secco Proseccos to $200 Krug, and the food kept coming. It was a pleasure to arrive early, taste through all the wines, and have extended conversations with the folks pouring. And by the time it got full, I had been able to do some valuable work and still enjoy some of the party.

As for Revel? We got there about 7pm. Parking was a challenge, but we found a spot and walked a couple of blocks to the door. It’s a tiny box of a place. There was no guest list, and it was barely possible to squeeze in the door; the place was beyond packed. I mean packed to the point where no one could move. The line for food double-wound through the dining room. The chefs and servers looked wrung out already, and the party was barely two hours old.

There was absolutely no possible way to get even a hint of the design of the place, nor any conceivable chance that we would have anything but a long wait for some tossed-together bar food. We headed back into the night, and found a welcoming spot at the bar at Bastille. As a “casual meet and greet” the Revel event was completely overwhelmed. I feel sorry for the owners and staff, who undoubtedly worked their butts off to feed half of Fremont. But if they want to get any positive media coverage for the place, it’s back to square one.


plymale said...

It's tough being at the center of the universe.

coursework help said...

I think it's quiet good not to be the center of the universe.

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