New Vine Logistics, probably the largest direct-to-consumer fulfillment house in the business, shuttered their doors on Friday, May 29. The news has been all over the Blogotwittersphere the last couple of days. The overall impact of such an event is still being hotly debated with arguments ranging from “eh, won’t affect much” to “OMG! The sky is falling!” Since I’m not a reporter, nor have I been closely studying NVL over the years, I can’t add much information as to what is really going on. What I will address, however, is how the situation was handled by NVL on the PR side, and what wineries can do to deal with the situation.
First and foremost, let’s take a look at how the PR was handled on the part of NVL. Did the company make a public statement? Not exactly. How did most of us hear about the news? Twitter, blogs, and winebusiness.com. According to winebusiness.com, NVL did send an email to their clients stating, “New Vine will no longer be able to receive and/or process any further orders for shipment from its facility and will be shutting down the ability to submit orders electronically through New Vine Online.” Ok, good first step. What’s going to happen now? They haven’t been as forthcoming with that little tidbit. No press release, no letter to the public, no statement on their website, nothing. PR FAIL! It isn’t clear at this point whether NVL will permanently go under, or whether this is a temporary hiccup. If the later, then they may have done irreparable harm to their public image going forward. Since they didn’t offer any more info than what they did, they look like they don’t care (or worse, are hiding something) and therefore customers will less likely be as trusting going forward.
Ok, now, what should customers of NVL do now? Other than the obvious solution of looking for another vendor to take the place of NVL, what should they do on the PR front?
- Send a letter to customers – first and foremost, contact anyone with pending orders and let them know of the situation and why their shipment may be delayed. If you have a wine club shipment coming up soon, contact members and let them know. Be open and honest, and you will have the support of your loyal customers.
- Internal statement – Inform your employees of the situation and what you intend to do about it. Make sure you prepare everyone to answer questions from customers, partners, and media.
- Public statement – Send a press release (or even better, a social media release) stating the situation and what you intend to do to find alternatives. Give people a contact person for any questions. Post it to the website and allow for visitors to comment.
- Use the opportunity – Use the opportunity to remind people what products you have to offer and how they may be ordered.
The whole goal is COMMUNICATE with your various publics. By being up front about it, you head off any potential crisis. Hell, you might even get a few new customers out of the deal.