Industry insider: What it’s like to work for a food PR company

I spoke to Kate Johns, director of London-based PR company Nudge PR who specialise in food public relations. Here, she tells us what it’s like to work in the industry.

What was your route into food PR? I worked in computer games PR originally which was lots of fun but not a subject I feel particularly passionate about. I then started freelancing and picking up food clients. I’ve always had a huge interest in food so it seemed a natural progression for me. There are significant advantages for PRs to work on a subject they’re passionate about, they’re more knowledgeable about the subject and this helps when talking to clients and journalists. We live and breathe food at Nudge, it’s pretty much all we talk about!

What sort of clients do you work with at Nudge? All food and drink related. We’ve worked with chocolatier Paul A Young since he opened his first shop and have been on the journey with him to open three shops and be widely regarded as the UK’s best chocolatier. Badger Ales are another great client for us, it’s a family brewery that have been brewing since 1777 and all of their beers are available in the supermarkets. We really enjoy working on food and drink events, we’ve worked on The Chocolate Show at Olympia for four years and RAW Wine Fair for five years.

What’s the best thing about your job? Generating coverage. It’s incredibly rewarding to generate a piece of great coverage for a client that they’re really happy with and you know will make a difference to their business.

What is the most challenging thing about your job? Managing clients’ expectations. It’s not uncommon for clients to have unrealistic expectations of how much coverage can be achieved and where. It’s important, but not necessarily easy, to manage those expectations. You don’t want to sound negative to a client but occasionally you know that what they’re asking for isn’t going to be achieved.

Does working with clients in the food industry differ from working with clients in other industries? I think all industries are slightly different, they have their own set of challenges. The food industry is growing and constantly moving so it’s an exciting industry to work in.

What is the most interesting campaign you have worked on? They’re all really interesting, we only work with people where we can see the story and know they’ll appeal to the media. We’re particularly proud of the clients we’ve worked with for years such as Paul A Young and seeing his business and profile grow. The Chocolate Show at Olympia had 18,000 visitors this year and it’s been fantastically motivating for us to see it grow to become a major London event.

Do you get any tasty freebies? Yes, all the time. Cake, wine, chocolate, it’s fantastic!

Have you seen lots of changes in the industry in recent years? Consumers’ attitude to food has changed and the UK has a completely different food landscape than 10 years ago. As a result, more food businesses are launching and the majority of them understand that they need publicity in order to stand out and generate awareness.

What does a typical day at Nudge PR involve? I catch up on emails first thing and catch up with the team. We often have meetings, with clients, potential partners, potential clients or press. I have a constant stream of emails coming in and it’s important to stay on top of them as it’s crucial to respond to journalists quickly and efficiently and to give them everything they need to make the coverage happen. If we have a press event that evening then we’ll head to the venue early to set-up, stuff goody bags and ensure we’re ready for when the press start to arrive.

Any advice for people interested in working in food PR? Immerse yourself in the food world, stay up to date on the latest restaurant openings, cook, eat, enjoy! Also, read the media, the national newspapers, food blogs, food sites.

Kate is on Twitter @kateatnudge

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