How to Make Your Culinary Team Media Stars
When working in the restaurant and hospitality industries, opportunities to promote the experiences you are providing are crucial to bringing customers in the door – especially when food and beverages are involved. Showcasing delicious menu items, unique drinks, and beautiful aesthetics creates interest from both the media and your target audience. The best spokespeople to spark this interest? Your culinary team.
These opportunities manifest in one of two ways: in-studio TV or radio segments or in-house media visits, both of which have pros and cons. Since early morning TV news segments are often filmed live back-to-back, it’s typically preferred you bring props to the TV studio to showcase menu items. Radio segments must be filmed in the studio for equipment purposes. However, bringing print and TV media partners to your establishment helps them envision the full experience and allows your team to feel more at ease in their own kitchen or bar.
Regardless of the type of opportunity presented, culinary teams are often nervous when engaging with media in person. As back-of-house employees, team members like the executive chef or sous chef are rarely customer-facing and require less public interaction than a general manager or dining room manager. However, it’s important to put your talented chefs in front of your audience to share more about the work they do. To help prepare your culinary team for their next media opportunity, be sure to provide clear talking points ahead of time and helpful tips like the ones below.
Dress to Impress
When on camera, the representative of your brand should wear a clean chef’s coat or uniform with the brand’s logo visible. If the segment is taking place in your kitchen, make sure it is in tip-top shape and all associates in the background are dressed appropriately for photo and video shots. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important detail that is often overlooked yet sticks with viewers when deciding if they want to visit your establishment.
In addition, depending on the type of media opportunity, pay attention to your gloves. While wearing gloves may be required in the restaurant for cleanliness, it is recommended to take them off during on-air segments. During in-person demonstrations, the impression is more that of sharing food between the chef and hosts rather than serving food. Wearing gloves during an in-studio segment can unintentionally give the impression that it is a transactional service rather than a partnership to showcase your brand.
Prepare Your Top Messages
Culinary team members are often wowed at how quickly live, on-air opportunities fly by – TV and radio minutes seem faster than real-time! Brand representatives should prepare the top three points they want to share ahead of the segment. While the talking points may be prepared by the PR or marketing team, chefs should practice out loud to ensure their top messages sound clear and natural rather than rehearsed. If caught off guard without something to say, the chef or representative should bridge back to those key messages to help guide the segment in the right direction for the brand.
Visuals, Visuals, Visuals
For both live TV opportunities and pre-recorded or photographed media segments, the top priority is providing beautiful and interesting visuals. Seeing a unique dish or drink being made draws viewers in, and TV hosts will especially appreciate a good shot that helps raise ratings. Depending on time constraints and the menu items being showcased, it’s important to determine what will be best portrayed on camera. This can include cooking a dish from scratch or assembling pre-prepared items, and since time flies when on live TV, the latter is typically the safest bet. For a recorded segment or photo shoot, however, feel free to showcase more steps in the process. In addition, members of the media love to be included in the process – the more interactive the cooking can be, the better!
You are the Expert
Your culinary team members know every dish, drink, and ingredient in your kitchen best. It’s important they keep this in mind as they demonstrate their expertise in these experiences and guide reporters and anchors through interviews. Remind your team members that they were chosen to represent your company and are leaders across your culinary team. At the end of the day, trusting their gut and demonstrating their passion is the best tactic to create an educational and interesting story.
Bonus PR Pro Tip: Be Prepared to be on Camera!
For PR and marketing teams supporting chefs with media segments, it’s important to be prepared for anything – even being on camera! Since most in-house shoots occur outside of business hours, there are no customers around to create natural b-roll or photo progression, and whoever else is present often must step in to create a realistic shot. Dress appropriately, without company logos or other identifying factors as part of your outfit. Something plain and casual is often the best thing to wear, just in case you become the star of the show!