I went to three press lunches last week, promoting cherries, Atlantic City and Providence. That’s too many press lunches and I am officially tired of PR-speak and ill-advised marketing practices. The collection of annoying press materials accumulating on my desk and in my e-mail inbox has not helped my mood, either:
I got an e-mail "introducing" me to a chef whom I’d already interviewed. That’s fine, but the publicist spelled the chef’s name wrong.
I have a booklet on my desk from Dunkin' Donuts called "The Coffee Sourcebook: Everything You want to Know about Coffee" which of course it is not. I want to know a lot about coffee — certainly more than six little pages can cover, especially if three of them are about Dunkin’ Donuts.
Remember: under-promise, over-deliver.
A press release from West Hollywood informed me that sushi is "one of the world's sexiest cuisines." Oh yeah, there's nothing like having wasabi, pickled ginger, seaweed, raw fish and bonito-flavored soy sauce on your breath to make you sexy. Ooh, baby.
But back to my lunches, which were at Town, Buddakan and a private room at Christie's, and all were delicious, as you would expect.
Well, not everyone expects good food at Buddakan. Both Zak Pelaccio and Jennifer Leuzzi have looked at me as though I were retarded when I complimented the Asian-fusion food there, but I’ve spent enough time in Asia (six-and-a-half years) to know when someone’s doing that fusion thang with respect.
At none of the lunches did the publicists seem to grasp how to get us, the journalists, to write about what they wanted us to.
At the cherry lunch the first thing they did was tell us how they were trying to reposition cherries (specifically tart cherries, which they want to promote as a super-nutritious food). But we don’t want to know about their marketing strategies. You’re not likely to see the headline: "Tart Cherry Marketing Strategy Undergoes Seismic Shift." We want to know what’s so great about tart cherries, not how their marketers plan to spin those facts.
They also might want to revisit the slogan "Cherries, not just another berry" because, of course, cherries aren’t berries at all.
My colleagues and I have been enjoying the dried cherries, cherry juice concentrate and cherry trail mix that were given to me at the event, however.
At both the Buddakan and Christie's lunches, the publicists started by introducing all of the other affiliated publicists, heads of convention and visitors bureaux and so on. I understand why they need to do that to satisfy the internal politics of their companies, but if we were interested in anything at the lunches, we were interested in what was going on in Atlantic City and Providence, not who their publicists and CVB operatives were. I’m sure they’re all very nice, but that’s not why we were there.
Of course, I’m just a food writer. Maybe I’m missing something in these tactics. After all, they did get me to write a blog entry about them...