When Morgen McLaughlin announced she was leaving her position as president of Finger Lakes Wine Country back in April, a void was created in regional marketing. McLaughlin became Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association in southern California. Her work had made a wide and powerful impact; more Finger Lakes wines were being reviewed by writers and critics. More conversations about the Finger Lakes region were happening on social media. The number of articles about the Finger Lakes region written in tourism magazines and newspapers across the country spiked, at least in part thanks to McLaughlin’s efforts.
In short, McLaughlin decided that buzz would beget buzz, which would eventually lead to more visitors and more purchases.
Finger Lakes Wine Country, based in Corning, has chosen Laury Poland to succeed McLaughlin in the role. It is fair to say that the two women are very different.
For starters: The New York Cork Report has been unable to get a hold of Poland since her elevation to the position at the beginning of October. McLaughlin is a constant present on Twitter; Poland does not tweet, as far as I can see. McLaughlin responds reasonably quickly to email. I emailed Poland directly last week and have not heard back. Lenn Thompson has also reached out. We understand that Poland is busy with the work of settling in to her new role. However, I’ve been in touch with other FLWC staff members, and they’ve been almost instantly responsive.
“Laury brings a fresh perspective to our marketing strategies and will continue to do so as we move into 2014 programming,” wrote Christina Chely, FLWC’s Director of Media Relations. “Laury has a passion for the region that she first developed as a visitor. Now, as a member of our amazing community, that passion will continue to grow and develop.”
So who is Laury Poland?
We’re told that Poland was responsible for all advertising and promotions initiatives of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (PLCB) Bureau of Marketing Communications, Branding, and Design. She took courses in wine education. We’re told that while with PLCB, Poland created new media campaigns and website development, along with social media presence. She wrote, produced, and edited video projects.
Privately, several sources tell me she understands the delicate dance of government relations, with a keen understanding on how to shake dollars loose.
You can’t blame Poland for the sins of PLCB, of course, but it’s worth noting that PLCB has been a source of heated controversy. It’s worth reading this piece by our friend Joe Roberts on Palate Press. Roberts isn’t the only one who has maligned PLCB as a body that stifles wine buying freedom. I’d like to ask Poland if she would support similar efforts in New York state.
McLaughlin, who noted that FLWC is in solid position in regards to annual budgeting, said, “I wish her the best of luck navigating the waters and propelling the region forward. It is an honor to help promote one of the most exciting wine destinations in the world alongside a committed and passionate staff.”
So what is Poland planning to do? We’ll let you know, just as soon as we hear from the new president of a very significant organization.
Update (10/23/2013): Evan and email from Laury earlier this afternoon with answers to some questions he posed: