Redefining Leadership in Australian Wine

This article appeared in the March 2013 Edition of Australia’s WBM Wine Business Magazine.

“ If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Q. Adams 

One often hears the term ‘leadership’ and a raft of different images are created based on your own personal experiences of what leadership means to you. It’s often the most prominent roles that come to mind and leadership becomes clouded with profile, emotions, judgement and issues management.

However, it’s fair to say that having just completed the fifth intake of the Future Leaders Program*, each and every one of us involved have a different understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader and after a six month intensive program, we came away with a renewed commitment to how we can make a difference to the future of this industry.

This is our story… 

Our journey began in May 2012. A group representing different facets of the wine industry met in freezing conditions in Tharwa in Canberra for a week long adventure that would challenge us physically, emotionally and intellectually.

We were known as group five (the Fifth intake of the program) and my comrades included James Agnew, Kristy Bartrop, Katherine Brown, Julian Forwood, Martin Gransden, Liam Heslop, Ashley Keegan, Daniel Killey, Victoria Leeke, Suzanne McLoughlin, Nikki Palun, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Scholz and Chris Tyrrell.

There was no time for ego’s, fine introductions or getting to know each other over a glass or three of fine red wine as is usually the custom.  We were quickly dragged out of our comfort zones and forced to work as a team to survive intense challenges.

Through expert facilitation provided by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, we saw each others’ strengths and weaknesses, but learned that we were stronger supporting each other and working as a group than as an individual.  It’s fair to say that this week in the Canberra bush was nothing short of life changing… it will stand out for all of us involved as a milestone allowing us to reflect on our own personal values, develop self awareness and achieve remarkable feats as a team.

The remainder of the course was conducted (luckily in slightly warmer conditions!) in intensive sessions in Tasmania, Yarra Valley and Adelaide and equipped us with hands on experiences with group dynamics, systems thinking, and negation skills. Through exposure to specialists in their fields we soon came to recognise the complexities of some of the big issues facing our industry – pressure from the health lobby, market forces, international imports etc. Whilst we don’t have the answers, we do feel that we developed frameworks of thinking to allow us to look at some macro issues in greater detail allowing us to make more informed decisions and understand some of the complexities at play.

As our group project, we were also charged with looking at some of the leadership issues facing competing land and environment issues facing the wine industry using case studies from the Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale and the Tamar Valley in Tasmania. Our time spent in Tasmania looking at the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill Case Study was particularly powerful in putting some of the complex leadership issues into context and allowing us to think about how we’d do things differently if ever we were faced with similar situations.

Our legacy… 

Stories of mateship and camaraderie amongst the older statesmen of this industry are common. Helping each other survive the hardships, sharing knowledge to help achieve a better industry and being here for each other to celebrate successes. We can’t underestimate just how valuable these lifelong friendships will be or how inspired collectively we were at the end to make sure there is a sustainable industry for the next generation.

Returns on programs like we’ve just encountered are difficult to quantify and it’s often through a different lense that the true value is exposed. It can’t merely be measured by return on capital, or numbers of board positions held by previous participants. We’d like to think the true return on investment will be made for years to come, perhaps not until our own “Pulp-mill” moment where we all need to rally together and work as one to save the future of our industry.

So the beginning of the next chapter now starts. We’ve finished the formal learning and it’s time to put the actions into place. True leadership does not need to happen just from formal positions – it comes from a vision to inspire and create change.

*Launched in May 2006, The Future Leaders Program was compiled to help develop the skills and potential of the next generation of wine industry leaders. It is a joint initiative of WFA, Wine Grape Growers Australia, Wine Australia and the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation.

The 9 things you MUST do to succeed online

This is a guest blog by Craig Wilson – doing great things with the NLYZR product that’s worth checking out to provide solutions for effective search engine results for your website. He’s a go to source for online information, so thought would be useful for him to share a few tips…

The advent of the web, search engines and social media networks has revolutionised marketing. While once we had to rely on outbound tactics like advertisements and direct mail, now we can utilise the more measurable and effective inbound marketing approach.

Here are the nine steps we use at Sticky for a successful inbound marketing plan:

1. Create content

Content is central to any good social media plan. You don’t attract traffic, comments, support or donations if you don’t have information or content as the lure.

Original content is material you might create in-house. It could be a news story, information piece, blog post, video or images. It doesn’t have to be lengthy material, in most cases shorter is better. But it does need to be regular material.

2. Post content

Your website should be the main location for posting content. Regular content drives regular traffic to that site. It creates return habits and subscriptions.

3. Optimise content

Every piece of content is another potential search result on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Optimizing each post, news item, image or video provides you with another opportunity to be found in relevant searches. By optimizing all your content for your target keywords you can substantially increase traffic. I believe so strongly in the importance of search engine optimization I launched a new business,, dedicated to making it as easy as possible for small business owners.

4. Promote content

Once content is published and optimised on your chosen site, it’s time to promote it to your social networks. Word your message carefully. Use strong descriptions, emotive language and ask for action. The right wording can drive very strong responses. If you get a poor initial response, review the wording and try again.

5. Enable social sharing

Its crucial to make it as easy as possible for viewers to share your content with their followers and friends. Embed Twitter ReTweet and Facebook Share buttons on each post on the website. Consider other social network share options at the bottom of each post on your website (there are dozens of them) to make it easy for people to spread to their favourite networks.

6. Ask for action

If you don’t ask, you rarely receive. Depending on the nature of the content you are promoting you could ask for comments, feedback, to sign-up as supporters, to share your information or even (drum roll please) to purchase.

7. Monitor traffic and comments

Once content has been published and promoted you must ensure that you follow the ensuing activity, especially in the initial period when traffic will be highest. This is the time to engage with your audience and build the relationships.

8. Study results

Study the analytics of all your sites and social networks to see what works and what doesn’t. This will help inform future efforts. Your online efforts must have goals and these results are the way you measure them.

9. Repeat process

The most important thing is to be consistent and have a long-term view. Good inbound marketing has a cumulative effect and requires regular attention.

Repeat these steps frequently.


Craig Wilson is founder of Sticky, a digital agency based in Newcastle, Australia and new Website Optimization System NLYZR.

Craig is a contributor to the collaborative series of world-wide marketing books The Age of Conversation 1, 2, 3, recent contributor to the Australian Govt’s National Cultural Policy and is often called on by media to comment on industry news.

Making the most of the Rose Revolution in bars, restaurants and retail


There’s a real movement happening to educate consumers about dry, purpose made Rose: The Rose Revolution! A great wine style, appropriate all year round but for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s a particularly exciting wine as we come into Summer.

There’s been lots of information circulated about how producers can come on board, but probably even more opportunities for bars, retailers and restaurants to come on board and grow your rose sales at a high margin.


There’s a range of activities planned to help spread the word about dry rose over the next few months. Kick off is 10 November with a global tweet up promoting dry, textural Rose wines. This is not just a one day event though, the momentum will continue until the end of April 2012 with a range of fun events being planned.


Some ideas on how you can make the most of the Rose Revolution in your venue:

  • Organise a tasting or rose dinner on 10 Novemberto taste and tweet – join in all the fun and pour some great rose whilst watching the tweets with #roserev. A great way to get people along to your venue, put up a big screen, encourage people to come dressed in pink and get involved in the fun.
    • There will be free tastings held from 5-7pm at many venues and then Rose Soiree Parties and an Australia wide tweet up from 7.30pm AEST. If you’re holding a tasting and want to accept samples, let me know and i’ll add you to the list of addresses
    • Promote dry Rose by the Glass– talk to consumers about this style of wine – put on some by the glass specials.
    • Use geo-location programs like Four Square to set up a four square check in special for your venue using a glass of dry rose as an incentive
    • Host a Rose dinner or function – the versatility of dry rose lends itself to tapas plates, paella,  charcuterie plates, seafood – almost anything matches well with rose, particularly Spanish and Mediterranean styled foods.
    • List your event up on Meet up so we can drive consumers along to participate
    • Serve flights of rose wine – rather than a standard glass, why not think about offering tasting selections of different dry roses to help consumers explore this style.
    • Take some photos and get social. The Rose Revolution facebook page has over 1200 fans and we’d encourage you to post your photos up on the page, or tweet about what you’re hosting using #roserv.

There’s a range of purpose made point of sale designed to help draw attention to the campaign in your venue – post cards, decals, banners, posters.  Have a look at some of the examples here. Our core supporters have all this information for you to use.

If you’re really serious about joining the Rose Revolution, you can also get your logo up on the Rose Revolution website as a core supporter for a nominal cost. Details here

If you’re holding a rose event or special, email and we’ll get the information posted up on the facebook page and website.


Have a look at who the core supporters are, talk to your wine reps about any special offers they might have and other ways to get involved.

Vive la Rose Revolution!

New Years Social Media Resolutions

2011 starts a new journey for many in the world of social media. It’s a year where people will move on from just talking about why you should participate and get more active and strategic about the way you engage. Let’s face it, we can spend a lot of time engaging directly with our customers and consumers whether it be through twitter, facebook or other platforms, so it’s worthwhile to take some time out at the beginning of the year and really think about what you want to achieve.

Remember the beauty of social media is that it’s often a collaborative platform and all of us are learning, so if you don’t know how to do something or want to discover more, all you have to do is ask and people are more than willing to help out.

Here’s a few tips to get you thinking to start the year…

1) Start with a health check – remind yourself about your reason for being on social media platforms and how it integrates with your broader marketing strategies. What lessons have you learnt from the past that you can optimise and what things do you think you could do better? Now is the time to really think about your social media strategy and how you can integrate with your broader marketing initiatives. Have you done simple things like:

  • Develop a communications calendar so you have some planned content and can integrate a range of your communication initiatives to have a bigger impact.
  • Putting a facebook like button on your website so people can automatically sign up to your fan page without interrupting their web experience
  • Included your social media profiles in your signatures and on your website so people know how to follow you
  • Thought about putting a computer monitor (or ipad) in your cellar door so people can sign up and follow you automatically?
  • Clean up your followers – get rid of those people who have not tweeted for over a year or who you never engage with.
  • Think about the frequency of your posts – there’s no rule about how often you should be communicating as long as you have something interesting to say.

2) Are you truly listening? Have you set up listening devices – it can be as simple as setting up a free google alert for your brand or using sites like or to make sure you are collecting feedback about what people are really saying. There are some more sophisticated programs to allow you to listen and monitor your brand mentions, but for many small wineries some of the free monitoring tools will allow you to pick up 80% of results.

3) Engage with your followers through extraordinary experiences- Whilst keeping your fans and followers updated on your daily activities is part of the journey, those who are doing things well provide extraordinary experiences – competitions, polls, reasons for people to stay a fan and continue to engage with your brand. If facebook is your main social media platform then have a look at some of the third party applications like Involver or Wildfire or it may be more relevant to have a customised application built for you if the campaign is big enough. Remember you can’t post a competition directly on facebook (eg become a fan and win wine) without it going through a third party application or you’ll risk your page being shut down.

4) Get involved with mobile and geo-location – many are saying this will be the biggest trend this year and it’s worthwhile testing. Many South Australian wineries are reaping the benefits from initiatives like the Great South Australian Wine Australian that SA Tourism and the Qwoff Boys initiatived – If you are choosing not to be active with platforms like Gowalla, Facebook Places or Four Square you should at least understand the opportunity you are missing. If costs you very little to trial and may be a way of attracting and incentivising a new audience with your brand.

5) Think about your influence, not the number of people you follow – There’s been some great recent posts by Brian Solis, Chris Brogan and Rick Bakas, Matthew Creamer talking about your influence on social media platforms being more critical than numbers of people who follow you. Whilst there is some correlation between influence and followers it’s worth having a look at or and understand just how influential you are.

6) Keep your Linked In Profile up to date – many underestimate the power of Linked In but it’s a powerful networking environment not just a way of gaining employment. Join relevant groups and participate in the conversations that are happening. There’s many features being developed for brands and companies so if you have not set up your Company or Brand on Linked In it’s worth doing so.