Digital PR campaign serves up top results for Italian Food Week

by Raymond Notarangelo

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Holyrood PR proves again to be a past(a) champion with Digital PR.

Food and Drink PR photography World Week Itallian Cuisine success post main graphic

WHO doesn’t love Italian food? And if you are looking to invite key food influencers and the media to sample a night of excellent Sicilian cuisine and culture for free, it is has got to be the easiest PR gig going surely?

But how do you do that when – curbed by Covid restrictions – restaurants are closed and people are being forced to stay indoors?

That’s the challenge that was posed to the digital PR experts at Holyrood PR when we are asked to promote this year’s World Week of Italian Cuisine (WWIC) in Scotland.

Normally, a food and drink PR project of this nature would involve identifying a restaurant, picking a menu, a theme and inviting a readily-responsive audience of foodie bloggers/influencers and writers to come along for a sumptuous feed – and rely on them to say good things.

Instead, we worked with the organisers to conceive two virtual events – including developing a bespoke online cook-a-long video event – that allowed media/influencers and a select group of home cooks to take part in #italiantaste #WWIC2020 – without having to leave their homes.

The response and impact was an impressive digital PR success – not least as we were able to secure the interest of Scotland’s top foodie influencers through our PR influencer outreach.

Food and Drink PR photography World Week Italian Cuisine success reporting graphic

At the time of WWIC (November 23-29 2020), restaurants were unable to open past 6pm, rendering useless any plan to invite people to a themed evening event. So – in partnership with the organisers from the Italian Consulate General, Italian Institute of Culture in Edinburgh and the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK – a clever PR plan was put in place to bring WWIC direct to peoples’ homes.

The first event was a Sicilian-food themed live cookery webinar from Italy with leading chef Carlo Maria Ricci, an ambassador with the acclaimed Italian ALMA cook school in Parma (La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana) – with the menu actually being delivered to the homes of bloggers/writers to allow them to sample the exact dishes.

Giovanna Eusebi and chef Sebastian Wereski from Eusebi Deli restaurant in Glasgow and Sabrina Damiani, who runs Edinburgh-based Damiani Sicilian Fine Dining, were recruited to make the Chef Ricci’s dishes.

We sourced 30 influencers – 15 each from Edinburgh and Glasgow – to be invited to take part in the event and co-ordinated a complex plan with the Scottish chefs to have the meals delivered to their home addresses ahead of the hour-long presentation by Chef Ricci.

We followed up with each of the influencers to ensure they were fully aware of the WWIC, provided a detailed media release, and ensured they were encouraged to post frequently about the event on their social channels.

The influencers were able to ask any questions about the menu and Italian food in general – and the event was also screened live over Facebook to allow as wide an audience as possible to watch the demonstration and pick up tips.

Food and Drink PR photography influencer screengrab from World Week of Italian Cuisine

Influencer relations helped share the love of Italian cuisine with other foodie lovers across Scotland, creating more than 83 items of engaging social coverage, and a reach of nearly 375,000. A 1000 people also viewed the webinar online.

Influencers help cut through social noise and can start meaningful conversations about your brand, product or event. The influencers taking part in WWIC allowed precise targeting as their accounts were all food related, we could assume that their following had an interest in food and that their persona would align and resonate with the main aim of the project, sharing the benefits of Italian food and the Mediterranean diet.

Although targeting influencers was important, the organisers wanted to ensure WWIC also had wider engagement to support its general aim of highlighting Italy’s high quality cuisine to as many people as possible.

That led to the development of unique cook-a-long event, where 30 people could win the chance to cook a specially designed menu in their own kitchens through a cookery demonstration beamed live from Sicily with leading chef Bonetta dell’Oglio.

Food and Drink PR Bonetta DellOglio © Alma

To share the opportunity, we created a bespoke promoted post on the Italian Institute of Culture in Edinburgh’s Facebook to target individuals with an interest in food, in particular Italian food. The promoted post allowed us to target and have the content seen by the right people in the right location and subsequently attracted those with an interest to sign up to take part.

As well as the chance to ask questions to Palermo-born Chef dell’Oglio – who has won widespread praise for her innovative cooking which celebrates her Sicilian heritage and her passion for showcasing organic agriculture and the benefits of healthy eating – the home cook judged to have made the best meal would win a luxury Italian food hamper.

Once again, we needed to ensure there was a hefty slice of digital PR creativity to ensure the project was a success. The key to this was to source a live streaming specialist to conceive a bespoke video platform to deliver the event. The technical aspects of this were considerable: there needed to be on-screen presentations from the Italian Consul General, Chef dell’Oglio, a wine sommelier, an interpreter – as well as the 30 home cooks who would need to individually present their finished dishes on screen for the winner to be picked.

The event will also screened live over the internet to allow other Italian cooking enthusiasts to watch and make the menu.

Each of the home cooks were individually contacted on a frequent basis to ensure they were fully informed about the event, in particular the ingredients they’d need and to encourage them to post/share their experiences.

Fabio Monaco, Consul General of Italy to Scotland and Northern Ireland, said while the Covid-19 restrictions had upset their usual planning for WWIC, they wanted to ensure that people still had the chance to enjoy and celebrate the amazing food of Italy.

He said: “It was certainly very challenging to create the network of contacts to support us in the promotion and delivery of an entirely online project, the advice and contribution from Holyrood PR was essential and has been much appreciated. We look forward to future collaborations.”

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    Raymond Notarangelo

    Raymond Notarangelo, co-founded Scottish PR agency, Holyrood PR after spotting a gap for colourful and innovative public relations in Edinburgh. He now leads a team providing media relations, social media, video, photography, brand newsrooms, crisis communication and media relations.

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