One of the biggest challenges in public relations is to continue to capture and increase interest among our audiences – one of the hardest audiences being media. So how do you host a media dinner in the center of a major global media hub filled with influential writers who are constantly invited to multiple dinners a night?
With this challenge in mind, the NC Sweet Potato Team decided to add an element of surprise. On behalf of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission (NCSP), we partnered with Dinner Lab, a social dining experiment uniting undiscovered chefs with adventurous diners. Our team reached out to local media with a lone promise: enjoy a delicious, one-of-a-kind dining experience. What was our selling point? The air of mystery – mystery chef, mystery pop-up venue, mystery menu (with sweet potatoes of course).
Turns out, suspense wins! Held in a vacant factory penthouse lit up by skylight windows, the dinner was attended by more food editors and bloggers than we expected (fortunately no one had to sacrifice a seat). Dinner Lab sold out tickets to consumers who exclaimed the dinner was “one of the best events ever had in NYC!”
From cocktails to gazpacho, chicken liver to pork belly, the dinner wowed media, consumers and our client with the unique sweet potato applications. The dinner was truly a delicious success!
For future media events, here are 3 things to keep in mind to preserve that element of surprise:
- Dangle the bait. One week out from the event, our team emailed a countdown reminder to media attendees sharing one mouthwatering dish from the secret menu. Their taste buds simply wouldn’t allow them to miss out on caramelized lime yogurt with brown bread & chili dirt.
- Who doesn’t like an adventure? Rather than give our secret venue away, we asked media attendees to meet us at a nearby park where we walked as a group to discover the unique venue together.
- Suspense with a side order of reassurance. We get it – that little fretful voice that flares up right before doing something scary and awesome. In this case, awesome and delicious. That’s why we let media attendees know that we were staying right in the comfort zone of Soho, not in a dark warehouse in Queens. We gave away just enough information to put that little voice at ease.
Our Sweet Surprise Supper reconfirmed that the “Surprise and Delight” trend is still a powerful marketing tool, especially when targeting an audience that has attended, eaten and seen it all.