Public Relations – PR – remains a key part of the marketing toolkit for your food brand and should be an integral part of your overall communications strategy. It is a specialist skill, and as a result there are many strong agencies and freelancers who could help you.
What Exactly Is It?
Food PR covers a whole variety of different elements and is every bit as varied as the “food industry”; it covers food brands and restaurants, but also cooking and eating out. The audience could be very broad, e.g. “food lovers”, or very niche, e.g. vegan restaurants in a particular geographical area.
The PRCA (Public Relations & Communications Authority) explains PR as being how an organisation builds a positive image, and so someone working in the industry might support any part of the food chain, from manufacture to consumption. It’s building relationships, either with the end consumer or with specialist media channels.
Getting into PR
PR is part of the marketing mix but is a standalone profession in its own right such are the skills required. There are lots of ways of getting started in the food PR world and lots of opportunities to progress. Many businesses take on apprentices in PR or offer places on graduate training schemes. Other professionals might gain broad marketing experience before specialising in PR. Others still might come from an industry related to food such as health or events. Having an interest is more important than the route you start off on, as it can be a very competitive industry. See the CIPR for more information about professional qualifications and ongoing development.
Agency or In-House?
Whether you choose to work in-house or for a PR agency will largely be down to your own preferences. If you work in-house, you will likely work for a single brand. Your breadth of involvement will depend on how big the marketing and communications team is and what expertise is available. Agencies can also offer a great variety in work, and you might find you work on different elements for different businesses – sometimes at the same time. The size of the agency can also play a part in the sort of work you do: some agencies have a global presence with offices around the world, while others are very specialist and might have knowledge and experience in a particular area such as dairy products or restaurants.
Some agencies will specialise in a single discipline – increasingly PR on social media or other digital channels. Others will have much broader skills and traditional comms disciplines.
As it is such a large industry, there are also lots of opportunities for freelancing too. It is a sector that changes very quickly, so expect a fast pace. If you have a genuine interest in food and can keep up to date with all the latest news and consumer trends, then a career in PR for the industry could be for you. You certainly won’t be bored!