Is Public Relations Right for You?

Are you thinking about getting a PR person for your restaurant?

Maybe you are a private Chef who wants to make a name for yourself on TV. If you believe public relations is only for huge restaurants, think again. It’s actually something almost every Chef should consider in the modern media age. With that in mind, I asked client Mark Bailey, a private chef and breakfast expert how his “TV career” came about and why he decided to use a public relations specialist.

How did your first TV appearance come about?

While attending cooking school in Los Angeles, a friend introduced me to actress/comedian Niecy Nash. During our brief discussion, I shared with her a bit of my story which included my passion for cooking, as well as my Caribbean background. I must have left a great impression because two months later, I received a call from Niecy herself asking me to teach her how to make an authentic Jamaican surprise dinner for her husband (who also has a Jamaican background) to celebrate their 6 month wedding anniversary. Not only was I going to assist her with this surprise dinner, it was to all be done in front of the cameras for her upcoming reality series, TLC’s ‘Leave It To Niecy’.

How did you find TV appearances helped you in the private chef world?

Appearing on television not only helped my private chef business it introduced my new business/career to the world. Prior to appearing on TV, I had spent most of my life in corporate America. Appearing on TV was like my using a huge blow horn to promote my brand and my business, which resulted in new client inquiries for dinner parties and events.

Why do you think PR is important to your business?

It’s important because it not only allows me to demo my cooking services but also gives me a chance to share a bit of who I am to potential clients. When people hire chefs they not only want to ensure the food is going to be delicious but they also want a chef who is personable, fun and relatable. Nobody likes a ‘Kitchen Nazi.

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How do you think PR plays into the culinary world in general?

PR is definitely an important component to any chef ‘s business. As a private chef, one is always seeking to acquire new clients and opportunities to display your talents. PR is the most logical vehicle a chef can use to secure those goals.

How did you decide to go about using a PR person?

After appearing on a couple of local programs, I decided I needed to hire a PR person to take my exposure to the next level. Having PR representation not only secured me segments with national exposure it also increased my exposure in print media.

What is your dream job in the chef/TV chef world?

My dream job would be to co-host or host my own cooking show. Since I am a self-proclaimed breakfast guru, my cooking show would be sensibly titled, ‘Breakfast In Bed with Chef Bailey.’

What do you think makes a good television cooking segment?

A good cooking segment is one that is informative, simple and fun. For most people, cooking can be complicated, tedious and therefore frustrating. Segments are like mini crash courses in cooking. After watching a viewer should be left feeling excited about cooking, empowered to get in the kitchen and of course hungry!

What would you tell other chefs about TV segments?

TV isn’t a kitchen so I would tell other chefs to be prepared to take off the chef hat and be prepared to don the hat of a producer when working on segments. While a segment only lasts a few minutes, a lot of work goes into the pre-planning, which includes planning a TV friendly demo, choosing timely/informative food topics and learning how to style your food for TV. It’s a lot of work but when done right, it’s definitely worth it when your brand/business starts to flourish.

I would probably also suggest to other chefs to rehearse the entire segment (in your head) in advance of the segment. Rehearsing your every step helps you to remember all the pertinent details.

Cindi Avila is the owner of Green Goddess Public Relations in NYC. She specializes in food, family, health and education clients. Her clients include the Institute of Culinary Education and Blossom Du Jour restaurants.