Responsible Drinking in Context
When I was asked to contribute to the Ethics and the Professional Communicator session held at the Digital Wine Communications Conference this year, I thought of the many subjects I could bring in under the “ethics” umbrella. I could have taken the topic from the side of the ethical behaviors or the lack of them of bloggers and journalists or I could have taken the “professional communicator’s’” angle and discuss ethical behavior in publishing any alcohol related advertising, editorial, etc. Then I took a closer look at my fellow panelists and decided to put the topic of “responsible drinking” in the context of digital communication just to keep the right flow to the session.
In my panel there was Richard Siddle, from Harpers.co.uk, who approached the topic from a pure journalistic perspective, George Sandeman, president of Wine in Moderation, who spoke about its role in spreading the message of wine consumption in moderation, Arnaud Terrison from Vin & Societè who talked about the restricting Loi Evin, the French law regarding any alcohol communication. Then there was me, and to me it seemed logical to follow the theme and show how current “responsible drinking” communication is done wrong and how I believe should be done right.
So I researched on the topic, looked closely at what Wine in Moderation is doing, I looked at different beer brands’ activities, at what the liquor sector is communicating. I also looked up some statistics on alcohol consumption related diseases and what other European Associations are doing to spread the right message about abusive drinking.
I was puzzled to see how much money these organizations receive and what kind of content they are putting out there. Coming from the advertising world I obviously looked at the impact of the existing communication. If the wine sector is worried about the lobbying against its business, then why aren't funded organizations, who happen to have money to invest in protecting our sector, doing anything effective?
In today’s world one doesn't have to have a huge budget to effectively spread the word on a subject. We know that with the use of social media we can reach the right audience with any message, given that it’s done right, with the right words that talk to the heart. There has to be a goose-bump effect, it has to engage, otherwise it is useless to put out any content.
So here is my presentation. Wine brands might not have the same budget as big beer or liquor brands, some associations might have less than others to spread the word, but that is not a good enough reason to be lazy or to put out content that is useless.