WineFest is an annual fund-raising event benefiting the Ann Arbor Art Center. In the last 20 years, WineFest has succeeded in attracting wine and food enthusiasts from around the world with its gourmet strolling supper and a live, silent auction of rare, limited edition fine wines. WineFest is the Ann Arbor area’s most widely attended fund-raiser and has raised $2.5 million over the last 20 years to support the Ann Arbor Art Center’s after-school and outreach programs
The Art Center’s goal every year is to attract new interest to WineFest within the community, gain more donors for the Center and raise awareness of the Center’s after-school and outreach programs. WineFest draws more than 800 attendees each year.
Every year the Art Center strives to create a greater awareness of WineFest and it’s benefits not only to the Center, but also to the Ann Arbor community. Because the event is annual, the Center needed to target key media with interest in wine, food and special events that would be attentive each year. The challenge was getting the media to see the event as newsworthy as well as getting media to cover the event annually. In order to accomplish this, the Center enlisted the help of Eiler Communications in 1998.
“WineFest 2002: Aged to Perfection’” was the event’s 20th anniversary and a way to ensure media attention and gain greater coverage of the event. Eiler’s strategy was to create a buzz about the anniversary, making the public more aware of what WineFest is and strives to accomplish. Through a series of press releases, press kits, a party to kick of the launch of the new WineFest Web site and media pitching, Eiler created broad media attention. Key media targets were sent a personal letter inviting them to join the festivities and broadcast news stations were personally called the morning of the event to invite them to capture the visually stimulating art pieces.
Before the event, WineFest generated preliminary media coverage in the arts and leisure and calendar sections of The Ann Arbor News. The event was featured in local newspapers including The Ann Arbor News, The Detroit News and Observer-Eccentric, as well as various online publications such as CBS MarketWatch, News Alert, and Yahoo Finance. Eiler’s strategy helped the event attract media attention and led to the excellent results of raising funds to support the Center’s programs.