PDX Women Chefs & Restaurateurs

How to be your own food publicist by Amanda

Winter is a tough season for the restaurant industry — people are dieting, it’s slim pickings when it comes to produce (more root vegetables anyone?) and the weather is more often than not bleak.

But judging by the warmth and enthusiasm of the nearly 30 attendees at Monday’s potluck, there’s a lot to be optimistic about.  A strong level of support, encouragement and candid advice characterized the evening’s discussion about how to leverage PR in a down economy. (Being in Susan’s drop-dead-gorgeous condo in the Pearl didn’t hurt either. Thanks again, Susan!)

We were lucky to have two great presenters: Lota LaMontagne of LAD Communications and Lizzy Caston from Lizzy Caston Communications. Here’s a quick synopsis of their presentations:


  • The press kit is dead. All you need is a fact sheet, a personal bio and an elevator pitch, and you’re ready to do your own PR.
  • The economy’s affect on media means they are trying to produce news with fewer people. They need content — it’s a great time to pitch
  • Instead of wondering why no one will write about your business, do the “Why should I care?” test? If your pitch can’t answer that question, rework it. Try tying it to easy news hooks such as new products (you don’t have to be first as long as it’s new), current events or seasonal topics.
  • Rule of thumb: lead times vary for different types of media (magazines, newspapers, TV). If you can just remember to pitch 90 days ahead of your newsworthy event (grand opening, product launch, new menu, etc.), you’ll be in good shape.
  • Know who you’re pitching:  Can you name the reporter who covers the restaurant scene at Portland Monthly? A single writer at FoodDay? Read the publications you want to write about you and jot down the reporters’ names so you can pitch them directly.

Key Tips

  • Join Travel Portland
  • Start a media list
  • Look ahead on a calendar and think of how you could provide content
  • Become a go-to person for a reporter. While this may not always result in coverage about your business, when you become a trusted resource or “go-to” person for a reporter, it will pay dividends.
  • Make friends with a photographer, or call one up and negotiate a rate. Being able to pitch not just a story but also the photos to go with it makes the job of the reporter a lot easier.
  • Develop a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. You need to make yourself easy to find online. The easiest way to do this is blog.
  • Keep your website updated, whether it’s a menu, the hours or your story.
  • Get involved with other organizations in town, such as the Portland Culinary Alliance.


DIY Marketing & PR Overview

  • Create a strategy and plan. It enables to be efficient, budget effectively, allocate enough time and resources and plan for opportunities. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time — you can do this in as little as 2 hours a week. Treat marketing and PR like you do other business essentials such as accounting.
  • There are several free resources and worksheets available to help you develop strong marketing and PR plans. Look for low or no cost business development workshops or online courses if you need a little more structure.

DIY Tips

  • Self-educate throug books, websites, classes, professional groups and conferences
  • Google your competition — research what others are doing by going to their websites and blogs
  • Collaborate — we all need to bounce ideas off of each other and have friends give us unvarnished feedback.
  • Partner on events and promotional ideas. One great example is how Portland Spaces magazine, CIty Club of Portland and Jimmy Mak’s are working together to host special events.
  • Don’t feel like you need to do it all, or do it all at once — take it one step at a time
  • Devleop a 6-12 month calendar
  • Look up editorial calendars of local media and map your stories to them
  • Keep momentum going so PR doesn’t end up at the “bottom of the pile”
  • Network — offline and online

That last bullet point triggered a brief discussion about the importance of social media but we ran out of time before we could delve into it too deeply. How to leverage social media for PR purposes will definitely be a future topic.

The best news I got today was that an attendee, Tricia Butler of Sassafras Catering, already put one of these tips into practice and got great Google search engine placement.

Hi Ladies,

Just wanted to shoot a quick note and let you know that I tried an experiment similar to Lota’s with her “Inauguration Party Menu.” Idecided to make a post on the blog about easy Super Bowl appetizers.

Well, I posted it at about 7:30AM this morning, Twittered about it in both my personal and Sassafras accounts, and at 9:30AM, it was #4 when I googled “Easy Super Bowl Appetizers.”

See the attached image – I am shocked and amazed.

Thank you again Lizzy and Lota!


WOW! Kudos to Tricia for not wasting any time getting herself out there.

We’ll be meeting again in March. If you’re interested in getting an invite, add yourself to the membership roster here. There are no fees or costs to participate, and we welcome women both from the foodservice industry and from professions that support it.

(Note to attendees — when I get more time, I’ll send you the contact info of all the attendees, as promised!)


The best meeting yet… by Amanda
January 28, 2009, 2:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last night was fabulous, with nearly 30 attendees, excellent speakers and useful, relevant content. Not to mention a gorgeous setting — you can’t beat a lovely condo in the Pearl.

When I have more time I’ll post notes and more details. For now, I just wanted to mention that an update is forthcoming, as well as a contact list for attendees, so everyone can stay in touch.

More to come!

January topic: PR tactics in a down economy by Amanda
January 12, 2009, 7:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Save the date, we’re going to have another potluck at the end of this month.

Recognizing the pressures and challenges of the economy, we decided to make this month’s topic about inexpensive and turnkey ways to generate awareness and promotion for your business.

Our guest speakers are Lizzy Caston of Lizzy Caston Communications and Lisa Donoughe of LAD Communications. Between the two of them, they have a lot of experience in the food, beverage and hospitality sectors. Lizzy is also quite savvy about how to use digital media to network and promote your business. Together they’ll be presenting valuable information and providing some valuable handouts so you can put what you learn into practice.

Susan Soto has kindly volunteered to host all of us at her condo in the Pearl.


  • Monday, January 26, 2009
  • 6-8 p.m.
  • Location: The Gregory in the Pearl, 420 NW 11th Ave. Unit 722 (instructions on how to access the buildling will be available when you RSVP)
  • Potluck: bring enough food to feed 6-8 people

Please RSVP using this form.

Thanks, and see you soon!