Back on January 25th of this year we held an exclusive media event for our client, global sauce brand Lee Kum Kee. The event was held in order to promote the brands ‘Hot Off The Wok’ video series campaign.
The videos, which were premiered at the event, celebrated authentic Chinese cuisine and featured celebrity TV chef Ching He-Huang, who went behind the scenes at eateries located in Hong Kong, speaking with chefs about their favourite dishes that implement the wide range of delicious Lee Kum Kee sauces.
The event was an all-round success, with the invited journalists and influencers leaving happy (and with an abundance of Lee Kum Kee goodies) yet we felt we could push for more coverage and awareness from the video series; we wanted to utilise Ching’s partnership with the brand and offer the media interviews and cooking demonstrations with her.
So how did we go about this?
In the early stages of planning the event we began to research which publications would be suitable to invite to the premiere, which meant browsing a variety of different journalists’ writings to see who’d benefit the most from attending the event, and in turn be the most likely to write about it. As well as this, narrowing down our invitation list also gave us the opportunity to see which publications were writing about what, who was interviewing who and helped us to determine what foodie features appeared in which publications and websites.
This initial research made us aware that the elusive and very much desirable publication, BuzzFeed, has written a variety of different foodie features wherein they interview famous chefs about their tips, tricks or even favourite meals. We immediately got very excited at the prospect of setting up an interview with BuzzFeed but there was still quite a lot of work ahead of us getting this set up!
Ching preparing the first recipe
At an event, networking is key but when you’re responsible for the entire thing and you need to speak to all the journalists, your client and the talent, it can be quite overwhelming!
It’s important to go into the event with a list of questions and points that you can cross off as the night progresses. It’s also imperative you don’t spend the whole evening speaking to just one publication, as you risk alienating journalists that you’ve invited, greatly diminishing the chances of them wanting to work with your client in the future.
We spent time speaking to every publication who attending the event, this included BuzzFeed, Daily Mirror and Reveal. As we had done research prior to the event we knew introducing Ching to the lovely journalist at BuzzFeed, Emma Cooke, was a crucial aim of our night.
This initially proved to be quite a challenge as all the journalists, quite rightly, wanted to speak to Ching. The Daily Mirror actually recorded a short interview with the TV chef whilst at the event. However, as the food was passed around the opportunity arose and we introduced the two.
We also spoke to Emma about previous food features she had worked on with famous chefs for Buzzfeed UK, including a piece she wrote about Christmas canapes with help from chefs Mark Hix and Kevin Gratton. We suggested a similar feature about Chinese food using Ching’s extensive knowledge.
Recipe number one - Wok Fried Sugar Snap Peas & Cashew Nuts
We left the event feeling confident – we were pleased that all of the journalists had enjoyed themselves, eaten great food and increased their knowledge on Chinese cooking. We were also incredibly excited about the possibility of an interview between Ching and Emma.
After any event it’s crucial you email those who attended and thank them for taking the time to come. If you discussed any features, interviews or videos with them do bring this up and let them know that should they need any extra information all they need to do is get in touch. We contacted Emma shortly after the event date and began discussing the feature. This is where we ran into our first small problem…
When planning an interview with multiple parties involved, finding a date when everyone will be free is often a MAJOR issue.
As Ching is a TV chef who spends a fair amount of her time across the pond in Los Angeles, securing a few hours for the interview and photoshoot proved challenging. Originally we planned to have the interview take place in February, which would have been in the midst of Lee Kum Kee’s Hot Off The Wok campaign. However, sometimes in PR things don’t always go according to plan and due to Ching being out of the country, the interview had to be pushed back to April.
Unfortunately this did mean that the interview would be taking place after the campaign had come to a finish but as BuzzFeed is such a huge publication that holds so much weight we urged Lee Kum Kee to go ahead with the interview anyway.
Next we needed to find a venue for the interview and photoshoot to take place, which proved more challenging than initially thought.
As the interview would include Ching cooking two of her favourite authentic Chinese recipes using Lee Kum Kee sauces, we had to find somewhere for the photoshoot located in London with a large, bright kitchen.
Initially we considered renting a studio for a few hours, however the costs of some of these places can be astronomical (London locations often are!) so we instead began looking for alternatives.
This is when we started looking at locations on Airbnb. After trawling through many listings looking for a large kitchen, ideally with an island, with gas hobs and enough room for 6 people, in London, (not much to ask for!) we eventually discovered this lovely property which ticked all of the boxes for a fraction of the price of many studio locations.
I contacted the host letting her know exactly what we’d be using the property for and stating the hours we planned to be present. During this process we did have a few hosts state that they did not allow media into their property however luckily for us, Katie, the absolute sweetheart who owned the Fulham house, said yes and so the interview went ahead!
The BuzzFeed crew (and me) eating the second recipe - Spicy Unami Beef & Mushrooms
The date of the interview, 11th April 2017, rolled around which meant a very early start of 5am for Account Manager Lauren and I! We drove to Fullham, full of excitement and coffee.
I had forwarded the questions from Emma to Ching so that she was prepped prior to the interview date. I sent everyone an email in the car reminding them of the shoot location and ensuring all parties had my number should they get lost.
We met up with our lovely client Lee Kum Kee in Fullham to purchase the ingredients needed for the interview and then made our way to the shoot location. Much to our relief everyone arrived without any issues at all and the interview began.
One top tip is to always wear comfy shoes to interview situations in case you need to do a mad dash to the local shops to purchase some fresh ginger or cashew nuts (totally not what I had to do!)
The interview and shoot lasted around 3 hours which included Ching cooking two absolutely delicious dishes.
Everyone left happy and we cannot wait to see the feature live on BuzzFeed in the next month!
Interviews can be difficult to set up but the experience itself, the contacts you make and the amazing coverage for your client is always worth the work.