August 29, 2013
Marlow Daniel has always enjoyed food, wine, travel and film, “because in each of those things, there is always something new to learn and experience.”
Daniel serves as the director of public relations and communications for Francis Ford Coppola Presents. She oversees PR strategies and campaigns for Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County, the portfolio of Coppola wines and the Coppola Family of Resorts (Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn in Belize, La Lancha in Guatemala, Palazzo Margherita in Italy and Jardin Escondido in Buenos Aires).
She received a bachelor of arts in communications from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1997 and moved out West to explore her passion for tourism, hospitality, food and wine.
Daniel served as assistant general manager at Calico Italian Restaurant & Bar in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for seven years, managing front-of-house operations, and then, joined the food and beverage department at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. She relocated to the Bay Area in 2004 and worked for Glodow Nead Communications, a boutique lifestyle PR agency in San Francisco, before coming to Francis Ford Coppola Presents in 2010.
When she’s not working, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, hiking, traveling and discovering the latest trends in the wine industry. She currently lives in Napa Valley with her husband, Mike, and says that the best part of her job is “meeting new people every day.”
How did you get your start in public relations?
I fell into public relations by accident. When I moved to San Francisco, I intended to get back into advertising after several years in the restaurant and tourism industries, but the economy sidetracked my plans and I was lucky enough to end up in a boutique PR agency. I immediately loved the fast-paced environment. I’ve never been one to sit still.
Why did you decide to transition from the restaurant/tourism industry to public relations?
It seemed like a natural transition to me. I’m currently involved in food, wine, travel and lifestyle public relations. I was able to apply many of the same skill sets from my previous career to the PR field. Having a restaurant and tourism background helped tremendously when making the switch to food and travel public relations. You have an extra behind-the-scenes perception when you’ve been on the other side of a project.
What does your day-to-day job entail at Francis Ford Coppola Presents?
Each day is different and changes by the minute, but generally, it involves constant back-and-forth communication with the PR agencies, meetings with the winemaking team, collaboration with the wholesale team, strategizing within my marketing team, creating and executing events, coordinating travel itineraries — and the list goes on.
How have social media and real-time news changed how you reach your audience? Has the media landscape changed in terms of coverage, and how do you decide who are credible sources or what type of access they get?
They’ve brought more of a sense of urgency to the news world, along with an increase in the number of journalists we work with daily, which is wonderful. The opportunities for coverage are greater and more varied. Social media has provided a great platform in which we’re able to offer our followers something unique, so we often drive people to Facebook or Pinterest for added insights and special offerings.
What do platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter mean for food and wine culture — do these tools help drive audience engagement or other initiatives?
Absolutely. We view these platforms as an extension of our traditional PR efforts and Web presence. They offer a great opportunity to interact with our consumers and provide content that’s not typically included in news releases. Wine can be intimidating, so we strive to break down some of those barriers through social media, going beyond the wine’s profile and making it more relevant to people’s everyday lives.
How do you keep your brands fresh and interesting for audiences who are oversaturated with content and keep fans engaged?
I’m fortunate to work for a visionary who is constantly creating new and exciting ideas. Francis has a personal story behind each wine he creates, so they have a very authentic feel. Not only do we focus PR efforts on what’s in the wine bottle, but we tell the story of how it evolved.
Francis Ford Coppola Presents encompasses a vineyard, wines, restaurants, overseas properties, movies, pasta, sauce and more. How do you integrate all of these facets and what is your role in that process?
People always ask me how involved Francis is in the business. That’s the number one question I get. My answer is that he’s involved in everything that happens, from wine labels and menu design to the bottling line and resort operations.
Each component of the business is a true reflection of Francis, and things that he loves, so they all weave together naturally. When I look at it from that perspective, I really don’t see an integration process, but rather a great storytelling opportunity.
How do you protect such a storied brand like Francis Ford Coppola (and his films and wine, etc.) and what role does public relations play in protecting that brand?
If you want something to gain traction, it’s important to protect the integrity and nurture it, but you also have to take risks. We work with a PR agency full of talented people who are experts at finding the right balance of risk and certainty in each opportunity.
What advice do you have for young professionals looking to get into public relations?
Expect change and embrace it. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
What trends do you see on the horizon for public relations?
I suspect we’ll see an increase in social media sites and content accessibility, especially when it comes to video, infographics and other interactive visuals.
What’s your favorite wine varietal?
It depends on the day. Right now, I’m into Chablis and Sonoma Coast Pinot.
If you could have any dinner guests, past or present, who would they be?
My grandfather who I never had the chance to meet — I would serve Mexican food.
What’s your favorite place to travel?
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
What’s your favorite movie?
Too many to name, but I always love “Big Fish” since it was filmed in my hometown [in Alabama].
What’s the best thing about living in the Bay Area?
Proximity to amazing surroundings and world-class food and wine — you can be snowboarding in the morning and hanging on the beach in the afternoon.
Managing Editor Amy Jacques interviewed Marlow Daniel for this month’s member profile.