1) Timing: You must have heard of the saying ‘the early bird catches the worm’. The phrase couldn’t be more appropriate to any other field than it is to F&B PR. Several publications working on short deadlines, looking for instant information, will send out requests to PR companies for information on certain offers from their F&B clients.
Unfortunately there are probably over 5,000 restaurants in the UAE. The first 20 who get back to the editor have a higher likely hood of getting into the feature. The reason is not only because you were one of the first few to send it, but also because you send it when the topic is fresh in the editor’s head.
24 hours later the editor is thinking of another feature for another issue, has got all her restaurants she needed for the previous feature and will not care what you have to offer.
The editor’s first priority is to meet their own deadline, remember that! Part two is the timing of sending out your release to the editor and pitching your story to be featured. If you are going to send What’s On a release on 25th August expecting it to be published in the September issue, then even the Stupid Police will be ashamed of taking you in.
If you really want coverage, plan your stories for your target media and send it way before the deadline, following up once again closer to the deadline.
2. Knowledge: Know your magazines in and out. Editors really respect you if you pitch a story knowing which exact section of the magazine you want it to go into. You will be surprised in how many different angles the same restaurant can be pitched to a particular publication. And please, know how each publication features restaurants, if you go to Conde Nast Traveller ME or Caterer ME and ask if the editor wants to review your restaurant for the magazine, I will call 971-Stupid Police.
3. Respect: Treat every editor the same way. With immense respect. We all know about hierarchy and how you will come on your knees in front of a chief editor, but you have no idea how much leverage and power junior editors have and how much they appreciate respect and importance.
Let’s take an example. When Time Out online has listed your restaurants timings completely incorrectly and your client is ringing you 50 times a day to get it corrected, you will probably try and call the Chief Editor to get it corrected. I will call the editorial assistant who physically makes all the changes. Let’s see who gets the job done faster.
4. Make Friends: You can’t hate an editor if they do not feature your restaurant. They too have their own limitations. Also do not get upset if when pitching on the phone they just decline your pitch and hang up. They are extremely busy people! For a second think back at the number of calls you get from Sales Directors of magazines asking you to advertise, how sweet are you to them? You are not a bad person, but everyone has priorities.
One good solution to this is going for as many media mingles as possible and meeting editors and getting to know them and more so getting to know their magazine better. Some of the F&B journalists in Dubai are possibly the most fun people I have ever met. I am not saying once you meet a journalist and become friends, your coverage is guaranteed, but atleast you may get to know what features are being planned in the future and have your PR ammunition ready before anyone else, increasing your restaurants’ chances of getting featured.
Also as mentioned earlier, meeting the journalist will really help you understand the magazine in detail and you will find out about sections of the magazine you never knew existed, even if you have been through the magazine 200 times.
5. Strategize: This final point does not focus on the media but focuses on the client. Every PR exec thinks that as long as I get a fair amount of coverage this month, the client is happy and they are done. NO! Within the first two months, you will learn what the client really wants.
Some clients will just want one massive 8 page story and they are content for the whole month, some clients may want 40 pieces of coverage as it shows more monetary ROI to their investors, even if this means 40 little listings, and finally in today’s date some clients may just want 50,000 followers on their social media page and not care a damn about print coverage.