The National Restaurant Association (nra), founded in 1919, now comprising of 945,000 restaurant/foodservice outlets & a work force of nearly 13 million employees, has once again chosen chicago to be their home for the annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel & International Wine, Spirits & Beer Show! Not only should we all be huge fans of the nra for the tremendous amount of income this show brings to our great city of chicago (and to the u.s. in general), attracting tens of thousands of attendees & visitors from all 50 states & 100+ countries, but also because it showcases more products, services, innovative ideas & growth opportunities than any other industry event, reinforcing once again that chicago is a world class leader in all things food, innovation, entertainment, creativity & hospitality!
As for me, I have been attending every year for as long as I can remember to enjoy, absorb, network, learn, and to be inspired. Last year, I was actually asked to speak on their opening panel! I have to admit, sitting up there between big dogs like mcdonald’s & dunkin donuts scared the heck out of me. But, sharing whatever I had, to help anyone that could benefit, was a wonderful feeling! So, when they asked that I come back this year, it was again an absolute honor & a no brainer! The coolest part was… this time, I was asked to be creative & make up a panel that I thought would be extremely exciting, desperately needed & all around different- so I did! And here it is…
First off, picking the subject of my panel session was easy. I am asked almost daily, by all kinds of people & businesses, how to communicate w/ the public when many forms of advertising, marketing & pr have not only been unaffordable in our current economic downturn, but more importantly are beginning to be considered “obsolete” due to the way the internet & social media has changed the game, so I will open up and share my successes, failures, strategy & grind on all that and whatever else I’m asked about. The nra apparently had been asked much about these issues as well, as they quickly green lighted the idea, and summed up what they thought I had to best offer, and thought most people wanted to hear of my strengths, by giving my panel the name of “Learn how to leverage your product or brand through personal relationships, traditional media, social networking & celebrity!”
Oddly enough, the surprise hard part for me was deciding who should be on my panel! There are so many amazing restaurant operators, managers, marketing consultants, publicists,.. in chicago, who I would be absolutely honored to share a table w/ at any time, but felt to explain my process of how I go about attacking the above issues, I needed to bring something to the table (literally) that is a true representation of the resources, stories, signs, processes,… that I tap into and consider when doing what I do. Which I guess to sort of some it all up, although will better explained in person, is that (1) I intensely listen to people, through their actions, reactions, story, and all around messaging about their thoughts, wants & needs, and (2) figure out the meaning of it all and use it to deliver value to them, even if not directly from me, through a mix of old & new tactics, that I will gladly share w/ my fellow panelists.
So! Long story short, I made a list of 20 people I thought would be fun & helpful in explaining what I mean by the above, and thankfully, the 1st three on my list quickly agreed to jump on board and it was a go! Of the 1st three, in no particular order, I picked Richard Roeper for his award winning 22 yrs of story about people, society, pop culture & more in the suntimes & beyond, along w/8 years of tv on “ebert & roeper” where in my opinion, like all other areas of his work, he intensely listens, analyzes & translates the stories the world is telling us, in this particular case obviously through film. I picked Alpana singh not only because I think the nra audience would love to interact w/the superstar who paved her own way to becoming the youngest person ever to achieve the rank of master sommelier, but because of her unique position as host of the award winning tv show “check please!” where she facilitates the discussion & expression of what consumers like & dislike about every aspect of the restaurant industry’s stories that are told in what they offer to their guests in products, services & experiences. And to even get closer to magic of delivering story about food experience specifically for the benefit of our nra guests, I chose 12 time beard award winner steve dolinsky, who has been at the top of the food media chain for as long as I can remember on abc tv, wbez-fm, and many other mass communication channels, really focusing on what story is trying to be told by the world through anything & everything related to food, and what all of it means to all of us…
Seems pretty cool & different huh?!? I promise you it will be entertaining & helpful in so many different ways…I know I am there to learn as much as anyone else… so the approach will be interesting… not only will we dive into all of the above, get to address any questions that any of you want, but of equal importance, I picked this crew so we can also get an in depth look at how they evolved (w/social media, interactive marketing,…) w/ their own brands, craft, outreach, routine, strategy,… as they too have faced the same challenges we all are experiencing, as what we are talking about really applies to everyone if you think about it! So join us! It would be an honor- noon on may 24th , 2010! For all info go to www.restaurant.org/show.
(btw, leave me whatever questions you want my fellow panelists and i to answer in the comment section below!)
Tags: alpana singh, beers, check please!, chicago convention, convention, dunkin donuts, ebert and roeper, entertainment, food service, hospitality, hotels, james beard, mcdonalds, motels, national restaurant association, nra, richard roeper, service industry, social media, speaking panel, spirits, steve dolinsky