How to Work with Food Bloggers
My name is Christina and I’m a food blogger. I’ve been going out to eat, taking pictures, writing about my adventures on East Bay Dish for six and a half years. Through that experience, I’ve learned a lot and I have some suggestions for local business owners.
Why should you work with food bloggers?
Food bloggers are influencers that have audiences of various sizes. People look to them for suggestions about where to eat or what to cook, so working with them can be a good way to get the word out about your new product or menu. It can also be an effective strategy to make connections with other people in the community.
Here are some suggestions for working with food bloggers:
Make sure your product is delicious
Take the time to test your recipes, get feedback, adjust and test again. Your product should be ready for the world BEFORE you approach a food blogger. Restaurants are the only exception to that rule. If you have a restaurant getting ready for a soft opening with a friends and family event, service and food doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should definitely be good.
Do your research
There are two main types of food bloggers: bloggers who cook and bloggers who eat. Make sure you think about your business and who it makes sense to approach.
Bloggers who cook would be a great fit for businesses that offer products like pickles, mustard, dry rub, jam, beer, wine, etc. You can invite them to your kitchen, show how you produce your delicious product and then send them home with delicious samples in the hopes that they’ll create a recipe showing off your product.
Bloggers who eat would be a good fit for restaurants, cafes, bakeries, bars, wine bars, etc. You can have an event to show off your food and staff and make the experience so compelling they can’t wait to share with their readers.
So after deciding on the right bloggers to approach, how do you find them?
Google and Instagram are good places to find influencers, so search for them using different keywords like “burgers,” “food blog” and the name of your city. I should also explain that there are a lot of people that are “Instagram Famous.” They might not have an actual blog, but they have a lot of influence on social media and they can potentially be good partners for your business.
Reach out to the food bloggers
After you find the food bloggers you want to approach, start the conversation by following, interacting on social media. Make comments and like their posts and this will put your business on their radar and help you learn more about them and the kinds of food that interests them. Then send them a quick email to introduce yourself and invite them to an event.
Have an event
Scheduled and flexible are 2 types of events you can host – there are advantages and disadvantages for both.
Scheduled events are great because they you can fully explain your business and product. If you invite all of the food bloggers you researched to your kitchen on a certain day and time, plan to have key staff there as well to help tell your unique story. For example, I went to a tasting at Little Giant Ice Cream and had the opportunity to meet the owners, see the kitchen, taste lots of flavors and take a pint home. I learned so much about their ice cream making process and the flavors were so unique, I couldn’t wait to share with my readers. The disadvantage of a scheduled event is some bloggers might not be available that day.
A flexible event might get more of a response, because everyone can come to your restaurant at their convenience. For example, the staff customized the experience during my unforgettable meal at Corso last year. These types of invitations usually come from PR representatives, but I would also be receptive to restaurant owners reaching out to me directly. The drawback is you probably won’t be able to plan it out as much.
Regardless of the type of event, you should definitely make sure there’s enough lighting and lots of opportunities to taste lots of dishes.
The day after the event, send an email to the food bloggers to thank them for coming. Ask if they have any questions and continue interacting on social media. DO NOT ask when the post will be published.
Food bloggers aren’t required to write about anything, so you want to just make sure their experience is so compelling they can’t wait to share. Also be patient because most food bloggers also work full time, so it might take a few weeks for them to post. And even if they don’t end up writing about your business now, it doesn’t mean they never will. Maybe the story didn’t fit in their editorial calendar at the moment, but it might in the future. If you connected with new people who came to an event, your food blogger outreach was a success.
Christina Mitchell is a food blogger, wine drinker, podcaster and social media/email marketing consultant for food business owners. She shares her adventures in local restaurants on eastbaydish.com and social media tips on christinamitch.com.