Top Ten Tips For Food Festival Organisers

Top Ten Tips For Food Festival Organisers

September 3rd, 2014

Top Ten Tips For Food Festival Organisers

Catapult PR knows a thing or two about festivals, having won four Gold PR awards for festivals it has promoted in the past.  It has also thrived on a rich diet of foodie experience, with Jane Hunt having handled everything from the Chef of the Year contest’s PR, to PR for a leading cookery school, an ambitious Lancashire dining club, a Cumbrian food champion and even chefs.  Put the two together and we think we’re well placed to offer advice and support to food festivals.


So with 2015’s food festivals looming on the public relations horizon, we’re offering our opinion on the top ten things that food festival organisers get wrong with their PR.  Digest and get in contact if it sounds like you’re floundering with your food festival.


1) Using the Wine Glass Not the Plate


When looking at their target visitor, there’s a tendency for many food festivals to think too locally, using the bottom of a wine glass to determine their target drive-time area, not a dinner plate.  Many appoint a locally-based agency, rather than one that can deliver a national level of interest and visitors from much further afield. You could find that a piece in a national food column does you more good than three in your local paper.


2) Too Little Preparation Time


Many festivals simply leave it too late to generate the national interest their event requires in order to deliver great visitor numbers.  By not planning ahead by a good five months, at least, they limit the type of publication in which they can appear.  Adequate cooking time needs to be allocated within the PR kitchen!  Planning ahead will also allow you to generate advance ticket sales.  It’s always nice to know who’s coming through the door!


3) Not Changing the Recipe


Too few food festival organisers revitalise their recipe by adding the new ingredients of a fresh pair of eyes, fresh ideas and fresh enthusiasm.  PR can get stale, if you run with the same recipe each year. Find a sparky PR agency that can inject life into your event and be passionate about their campaign for you.


4) Not Kneading the Dough


Choosing a reactive PR consultancy that expects you to come up with the ideas, rather than one that can work all the dough at its disposal and produce some red hot suggestions from its creative oven, is almost certainly going to be detrimental to your campaign.  Festival organisers have enough to do getting the event running, to be charged with being the idea generators too.  Expect others to do the thinking.  If they’re not, ask yourself ‘why not’?


5) Choosing the Wrong Utensils


You wouldn’t set your festival chefs up with a wok, if they were demonstrating the art of Italian cuisine, so why would you choose a PR agency that has no experience in the food and tourism sector to handle food festival PR?  Tap into experience and you could take your event to a whole new level.


6) Underestimating the Impact of Flavour


Some festival organisers see the story as being very straightforward, relating to what’s on the festival calendar, when it’s scheduled and how much a ticket costs.  They fail to see that what’s going to excite the visiting public is flavour – and that comes from ideas and exciting news that will get the taste buds tingling.  Don’t create a flat pancake of an event through predictable PR.


7) Creating Too Few Feasts for the Eyes


Too often, a food festival PR programme fails to think about the visuals – the high impact photography that is going to light up the eyes of a picture editor and then a prospective visitor.  Think pictures, or leave many prospective visitors going hungry.


8) Too Many Cooks, Too Few Treats


Too much festival PR concentrate on big names and lacks the inspiration to do anything for the event when the names aren’t big enough, or just don’t appeal.  A food festival is about so much more than who is in the demonstration kitchen.


9) One Big Blow Out; Absence of Drip-Feed


Thanks to various reasons, such as lack of planning, using an agency short of ideas and spending a precious budget on an expensive consultancy, rather than shopping around for one that can deliver at a much more affordable price, much festival PR boils down to one last minute story.  This might include all information about the festival, but it may come too late to warm up the palates of your visitors.  Always go for the drip-feed approach.  Communication over time will inform your audience over time and keep reminding them that they really must visit this year.  Don’t rely on them seeing one piece of communication just before the event takes place.


10) Bites, but no Sound Bites


It’s easy to overlook the needs of media focused on audio, when you are dealing with a food-related event that is all about taste, texture and aromas.  Don’t forget the power of the sound bite – the sizzle of the pan, the interview with a great talking head for your festival, the shake, rattle and roll of the utensils in the kitchen.  Radio is a powerful friend.


If you need help with your food festival marketing, we are always here to help, with a pile of fresh ideas, approaches and ways to set the media alight.  We rather fancy the idea of more Gold PR awards to join those already sitting on our Festivals shelf!  Just email or call 01253 891114 for a chat.