Feeding the media: finding the way to a journalist’s heart through food
Birmingham’s foodie scene is bustling. From our Michelin starred fine dining eateries to our new wave of independent eateries, street food and artisan producers, Birmingham’s culinary delights have been lauded by global media including the New York Times, China Daily and The Economic Times of India.
But closer to home, it can be tricky to get busy London based journalists to come and sample our foodie haven for themselves – so we decided, as part of our ‘Birmingyum’ campaign to showcase the city’s tasty offer, to take just a little bit of it to them.
Our mission: take a taste of Birmingham to the capital and persuade some of today’s most influential foodie writers that Birmingham is worthy of foodie pilgrimage!
How would we do this? Quite simply, we would bring the lunchbox back. With help from Duncan Stanley, the brains behind Birmingham’s newest street food market BrumYumYum, and Simon Dunmore, owner of the Deli at Edgbaston, we created ‘Birmingyum’ lunchboxes, bursting with delicious delicacies from the city’s best independent traders and local producers.
Here’s what we put inside:
• 'Self-assembly' famous pani puri (with instruction booklet!) from Lasan Eatery
• Roast duck and kimchi kimbap rolls from Korean street food vendor Yogiyo
• Mexikora, stuffed jalapeño, taquito & layered salsa jar from The Mexican Bean
• Middle Eastern deli box, including Israeli cous cous from the Deli at Edgbaston
• A seven-layered candy bar & peanut butter brownie chunks from the boys at BAKE
• Boca del Diablo miniature, authentic chilli sauce from Pip's Hot Sauce
A lunch fit for a media king or queen!
Once the lunchboxes were assembled, we were ready to embark upon our whistle stop media tour of London – a day of feeding hungry journalists and hopefully, surprising a few with the amazing variety Birmingham has to offer.
First stop: number 72, Hearst Publishing House. Based near Piccadilly, Hearst is home to many of the UK’s leading consumer magazines – we were here to meet foodie writers from Good Housekeeping, Red Magazine and super-stylish men’s mag Esquire.
One of the perks of being a journalist is undoubtedly the media drops (aka freebies). Journalists receive tonnes each week – from vitamin water samples to free tickets – but these lucky writers were seriously impressed with our ‘Birmingyum’ boxes, claiming no tourist board had tried to woo them in this way before.
A quick pitch from Duncan and Simon about the city’s burgeoning culinary scene and we left triumphant, with a couple of strong leads and more names to add to our ‘black book’ of contacts.
Round the corner at number 33 (still Hearst) we spoke to the web editors from Company and Cosmopolitan and the rapidly growing fashion and ‘trend’ website handbag.com. Kat, who looks after the social media for Cosmo was so taken with her lunch she tweeted a picture to her 3,900 followers (!) before getting stuck in, and we hope to welcome her to the city for a media visit this winter.
Second stop: a 20 minute dash across London (with Duncan in tow with the lunchboxes in a refrigerated van) and we arrived at The Independent’s offices at Derry Street, near Hyde Park. We were a little late, but it didn’t seem to matter – Larry and Sophie from the food and travel desks fell in love with the lunchboxes. It’s good to know they are keen to receive content from the regions and are committed to giving column inches to cities other than London – we’ll be sure to hold them to this.
Third stop: MSN’s headquarters. With traffic in London so bad we had to ditch the van, we brave the tube with lunchboxes piled high and bags of press packs. After a busy, bumpy journey (which nearly left unsuspecting tube passengers smeared in guacamole) we met with Craig, the senior editor at MSN Food. Keen to get a date in the diary to visit Birmingham, and armed with heaps of foodie content for his web pages, Craig was left with some serious food for thought.
Fourth stop saw us head to The Guardian’s offices near Kings Cross – we couldn’t wait to meet Susan, editor of the publication’s Word of Mouth blog, which all serious foodies take heed of. But luck was not on our side – after several minutes of fighting through swathes of people streaming away from Guardian HQ we realise a fire alarm is destined to come between us and our sales pitch. Instead, we ask a porter to sneak the lunchboxes up to the food team despite the fire alarm chaos.
Fifth and final stop: the Blue Fin Building near London Bridge where IPC media are based. We end on a high with Marie Claire’s entertainment editor agreeing to run a feature piece on Birmingham’s street food in the November issue.
So after an exhausting – but fruitful – day, it was time to leave the Big Smoke. We’d met with ten journalists, and delivered ‘Birmingyum’ boxes to many more. We’d left a big impression – securing leads, getting several media visits in the bag and inspiring people to talk about Birmingham’s food scene on social media.
Our media tour is just one of many tools Visit Birmingham is using to spread the word about Birmingham’s culinary scene, but with positive receptions from all those we visited, it seems food really is the way to a journalist’s heart!
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