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“Meet the Press” session was held on Tuesday, January 20th at the Best Practices Conference. Our traditional news and views with a twist. Three of our most esteemed industry journalists agreed to sit on the other side of the news desk. Roz Mallet, CEO of PhaseNext Hospitality moderated a trip down memory lane to explore the past, present and future of issues faced by the restaurant industry. There was candor, insight and laughter… a lot of laughter! Panelists included Sarah Lockyer, Editor in Chief at Nation’s Restaurant News, Ellen Koteff, VP of Editorial at Phoenix Media Group and Peter Romeo, VP of Editorial Content at CSP Media (Check out Peter’s “12 regrettable misses worth savoring” written at Global Best Practices Conference)

As a Public Relations Consultant, the “Meet The Press” session certainly peaked my interest. And I was not disappointed. To listen to respected journalists share so openly about trends, news and issues was interesting and entertaining.

Roz began by asking how the industry has changed in the past 20 years. Peter said that the industry cares about politics more than ever but they don’t do as much about it. In fact, everyone spoke to the fact that the media has historically skewed left while the restaurant industry skews right. But that’s changing. Sarah added that they look at every angle and cover things comprehensively. In the age of the 24-hour media cycle, that was encouraging to hear.

The panel addressed the digital shift over the past 20 years. As a group, they all noted a shift to focus on digital. The good news is that the communications gap has really closed. They are able to listen to social and gain immediate analytics regarding what is resonating with their audience. In the PR world, I think we have a responsibility to understand that and improve our game when it comes to pitching relevant topics. We need to watch and listen too, in order to provide information that aligns with their strongest content.

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I mention this because this relationship needs to improve and it was quite apparent. Ellen even mentioned PR firms that have written Yelp reviews for their clients. It was really disturbing to hear. She and I both agree that the worst thing you can do to the media (and to anyone, really) is lie. Regardless of your relationship with the media, dishonesty will eventually come to light and you’ll have ruined your credibility in the process.

Sarah and Peter echoed this sentiment stating that journalists can smell BS pretty quickly. Whatever you say needs to be backed up and verified. When you take liberties and lie, someone will call you out for it. People are smart and know that things don’t add up.

This is especially important to the restaurant industry because consumers are going to continue demanding more information about where their food originates. Being honest and forthcoming on topics like food origin will make or break the reputations of the players in this industry.