Countries around the globe boast critically acclaimed wines from regions such as France, Spain and Australia. When one thinks of American regions, the typical response is Napa Valley. This may never change, but if the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association has one goal, it is to add their name to the list. Morgen McLaughlin, president of the association, sits down with Mike Bako, host of Inside Communications, to share the strategies and tactics her team used to put their stunning and affordable region towards the top of that list.

Joining the association five years ago, McLaughlin teamed up with public relations agency, Development Counsellors International, to devise a five-year plan which changed the perceptions that good wines were scarce in The Finger Lakes region. To their benefit, many of Napa Valley’s wineries were closing their doors due to the recession. This also meant that cash-strapped tourists, who would usually head to Calif, were also looking for a more affordable wine destination. According to McLaughlin, one day in Napa Valley costs as much as one week of touring more than 100 wineries in The Finger Lakes.

Having the wines reviewed was the first step in their rebranding plan. They started by encouraging local wineries to submit their wines to various publications for review, such as Wine Spectator. Packing her car full of bottles, McLaughlin was determined to fill and refill the glass of any editor who would meet with her.

By reaching industry influencers via new media, such as emerging journalists and bloggers, they were able to gain maximum exposure on a shoestring budget. They also utilized social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, to engage their target consumers.

To truly ensure the success of The Finger Lakes Wine Country Region, they knew that promoting all of their attractions was key – from restaurants and lodging to events and outdoor activities.

“Wineries are just one component of what we offer,” McLaughlin said. “Ultimately, it is important that you have all of your stakeholders, government officials, chambers of commerce…the tourism businesses themselves, to understand the strategy and want to be part of it.”

Year-round promotions gave all of the businesses a chance to be part of the campaign. Seeing the publicity generated, like being selected as a top-value destination by Sherman Travel, made them realize that the strategy was effective. The 25 percent increase in visitors proves their success.

Learn more about the Finger Lakes Wine Country by watching the full interview with Morgen McLaughlin, click here.

About Finger Lakes Wine Country

Being the most beautiful and affordable wine country destination in the world, The Finger Lakes Wine Country region is New York’s largest wine producing region. It is a place for visitors to tour more than 100 award-winning wineries and vineyards, scenic waterfalls and gourmet eateries. For more information on Finger Lakes Wine Country, visit Follow Finger Lakes Wine Country on Twitter @FLWineCountry

About Development Counsellors International (DCI)

Development Counsellors International (DCI) is the leader in marketing places specializing in economic development and travel marketing. Since 1960, they have worked with more than 400 cities, regions, states and countries, helping them attract both investors and visitors. For more information on the agency, visit Follow DCI on Twitter @AboutDCI

About Inside Communications with Mike Bako

Discussing the strategic brilliance of PR campaigns is one of the main focuses of Inside Communications with Mike Bako. Featuring guests from all sectors of PR, viewers improve their understanding of what it takes to develop and execute a successful PR campaign. To learn more about the show and view videos of previous interviews, click here. To be a guest on the show, please e-mail

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