5 Tips for Press Coverage from an Eater Editor
A senior editor at Eater LA advises aspiring chefs on restaurant press.
Farley Elliott, senior editor at Eater LA – one of the leading culinary authorities covering restaurant culture, dining reviews and breaking food news — visited ICE’s Los Angeles campus to speak about food media in October.
In addition to describing how he landed his coveted position (short version: he ate a lot of tacos, pounded the pavement and worked a day job until he could make a full-time living from food writing), Elliott demystified the process of securing coverage in the sought-after pages of Eater. The editor gave sound advice on what those new (or not) to the industry should do to get their name out there.
Here are five key strategies every restaurateur, chef or chef-owner should consider when looking to promote their brand to the media.
- Make the first move.
“More than anything else, don’t be afraid to reach out or think that it’s ever too early to start the conversation,” Elliott said. “My job is to find people to talk about. The more people that come to me with accurate and timely info, the easier it is for everyone.”
- Be willing to talk.
“You’ve really got to be a voice in your own story,” said Elliott. “As much as you think you’re a small, one-off entrepreneur, the truth is you’re a publicly operating business, and that in itself is newsworthy. If you don’t [open up], someone is going to come along and tell your story, whether it’s us [Eater] or Yelp. You might as well put accurate information out there so when people search for you, they can find you, reach you and hear your voice instead of someone else’s.”
- Decide if hiring an outside public relations firm makes sense.
“If you build that kind of money in your budget, then I think there’s a lot of value [to hiring a PR firm]” said Elliott. “With connections, [firms] are an undeniable resource to help get your name out to your audience.” However, he warned that a PR agency is not going to save anyone from going out of business. “If you have a good story and you are savvy, you absolutely don’t need to hire a PR firm or representative,” advised Elliott. “So much of what I try to do is reach people regardless of how much money they have because everyone’s got a story in them.”
- Market yourself.
“Marketing yourself is an important part of the business,” said Elliott. “It’s not just finding a lease, cooking, hiring staff, then opening the door – no one will come to your restaurant if they don’t know it exists,” he explained. “Any restaurateur who’s opening a place would do themselves a favor if they hired a company to take professional photos of the space and food. It will dramatically increase the likelihood that you will get talked about.” If an editor doesn’t have access to assets and photos, Elliott said, they will “move on.”
- Don’t stop trying.
“Not everything is going to be a fit; you won’t make it on every ‘list,’” explained Elliott. “Instead of thinking of it as a negative, know there’s a future opportunity. Just like every site, we are constantly refreshing where to eat great food. Every restaurant, old or new, has a place to work into a story from a space or dish perspective.”
One-of-a-kind, human stories can put you on the map. “Whether you’re a unique entrepreneur or you have a dishwasher that’s been at your restaurant for 30 years working to support a family in Guatemala, or maybe you’re the only one cooking a specific dish from Spain in Los Angeles — there’s definitely news if you’re willing to look around,” explained Elliott. “Take it in from a media lens, where the story is to be told. Once you find that story, it’s easy to get on the radar.”
Start your culinary story at ICE's Los Angeles campus.