Tag: Social Media

Telling the Story of Food

Compiled and presented by Stephanie Heinatz of Consociate Media and Sara Harris of Sara Harris Photography.


Think about this…where do you often find yourself telling, sharing the best stories? For us, if it’s not in writing, it’s while breaking bread together. That’s what made a recent event at Waypoint Seafood & Grill for the Virginia Chefs Association so great…where we joined Sara Harris Photography in leading a discussion on telling the story of food through imagery and social media.


Pick two social media channels.

We get it! Chefs are B-U-S-Y! Don’t get overwhelmed by social media. Identify the top two social media channels you think will reach your audience AND that you can effectively maintain. For the chefs in a suburban, we recommend Facebook and Instagram. For chefs in a more urban setting, we recommend Twitter and Instagram. Also, try at the very minimum to create a LinkedIn profile.

Create your personal brand.

You are a brand as a chef and representative of your restaurant’s brand. Don’t rely on just your personal accounts on social media. Create ones that are unique for you as a chef. Diners enjoy getting to know the chefs behind the dishes they enjoy as much as the restaurants themselves. Also, share posts and photos with your restaurant’s marketing team for use on those marketing channels. Special note: ensure you have a professional headshot as your profile picture for accounts you are branding for yourself as a chef.

Be social.

Social media is meant to foster social relationships. Don’t just post it and forget it. When people comment on your photos, comment back. Start a conversation. Go and like and comment on other brand and personality pages. Tag people.

Use hashtags on your photography.

These (noted by a #) are used to unite posts on a single topic. It’s like a targeted search engine. There are thousands of acronyms, cryptic phrases, and nonsense words (#instafood, anyone?) chefs are adding to their photos – and sometimes getting tens of thousands of likes for it. #hastagit

Photos. Photos. Videos. Photos.

Photos and videos are the top pieces of content users on social media engage with, like, share or otherwise comment on. Use imagery always. On all platforms.


Find the light.

Lose the flash. iPhone and Andriods have robust camera software. Turn off your flash setting and use an existing available light. Natural lights is always the best option and some of the best light can be found near windows or doors. Shoot with the light, rather than into it. A trick to exposing properly is to simply tap the screen on your phone where you would like the focus/sharpest point of our picture to be.

It’s all about perspective.

With food, it’s visually compelling to shoot from directly above or at table level. When shooting from above, hold the phone perfectly parallel to the surface of the food. When shooting at table level, hold the phone at a low angle perpendicular to the table, or even use the table to balance the phone.

No zooming.

Zooming often distorts image quality. If you want to get in close to your food, physically get much closer to it. Also remember that story may be better told including the entire vignette. For example, the busy motion in the kitchen or the whole scene at the farmer’s market.

Keep it simple and skip filters.

Backgrounds add to (or can subtract from) the story. When the food is the star, keep the ground simple, a wood cutting board, a table top with a fork. Look around and think about the entire scene before you take the picture. You’ve worked hard to create a beautiful plate, so don’t let Instagram filters dictate the color palate. If the image needs a polish, a subtle adjustment to contract, exposure and vibrancy may be all you need.

Lift the curtain and go behind the scenes.

For better or for worse, we live in the age of reality shows. So give the people what they want. Wide-angle shots of the kitchen in action (blur included), the bustling of a farmer’s market, or even what you cook at home are compelling to your followers.

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Crisis Communications: What today’s news cycle looks like


By Amanda Kerr, Consociate Media Writer and Media Strategist

In the days before the Internet and 24/7 cable news, a reporter had all day to finish a story. Big news came on the 6 p.m. television and radio newscasts and replayed at 11 p.m. For newspapers, the story didn’t actually reach readers until the paper hit newsstands the next morning.

Ah, the good old days! In today’s highly digital world, the news cycle is constant, driven by immediacy, the urge to be first and the desire to maximize audience reach on website and social media platforms. So what does that mean for public relations and corporate communications?

It means managing social media, websites and mass media. It means reaching reporters for each cycle on each deadline of the day: writing for the web and social media posts while also writing for print, radio, TV and online. It means you’ve got to keep up.

Communications in a Crisis

“If it bleeds, it leads.” That’s the long-standing mantra driving news coverage. The day’s latest crisis, whether it’s a chemical fire at a plant, a security scare at a college, an airplane crash, or layoffs at a local factory, will set reporters swarming for facts, information, context and commentary.

Effective communication during a crisis is based on preparation. A business or organization shouldn’t be coming up with a crisis communications plan as the crisis is unfolding. Having systems, protocols and timelines in place long before an unfolding crisis – big or small – is the best way to prepare.

It’s imperative a business can respond quickly, accurately and effectively under duress. Knowing which audiences you need to reach, how you want to reach them, who you want to be the voice or face of your company and the type of information you’ll need to gather is essential to successfully managing a crisis.

Having prepared statements geared toward specific incidents is key. These statements are essentially templates that can be quickly edited to address the specific situation at hand and then pushed out to your website, social media and news media. These are critical to responding quickly and effectively.

Immediate Response

If a crisis breaks internally, be ready to put out an initial statement as soon as possible. Don’t wait for a reporter to call if you can avoid it. Directly addressing a negative situation head on builds trust with the press, consumers and clients.

Should a reporter obtain potentially damaging information before you’ve had a chance to prepare an initial comment, don’t wait too long to respond. Call back within the hour if you can. Waiting to comment won’t delay the story until you’re ready. If your business doesn’t speak to the media, there’s a good chance someone else will.

Don’t expect reporters to show patience in a time of crisis. Remember, they’re under a lot of pressure to get something online so it can get pushed out on social media. Then they’re expected to update the story on their outlet’s websites throughout the day as new details become available.

But keep in mind reporters also don’t necessarily expect you to have all the answers in that first phone call or news conference. They just want to confirm the facts and offer context for how the business or organization is addressing the issue or emergency.

When a crisis is unfolding, the story is likely to change and develop throughout the day. Reporters understand that.


The primary goal of crisis communications for any business is to ensure consistency of message and mitigate negative publicity due to speculation. The best way to do that is to be honest and transparent.

Attempting to cover up the magnitude of a situation can only make a business or organization more vulnerable. The absence of the truth tends to drive others with information to the surface. A concealed fact that end up shared on Twitter or Facebook can go viral in minutes, and all that will do is make you look guilty.

Be clear about the situation. Don’t hide the bad news. Speak with empathy and sensitivity. Offer information about how the company is handling the situation and what type of services will be made available to those who are affected. If you aren’t clear on the facts of an incident or if a response plan hasn’t yet been finalized, don’t speculate or guess. It’s better to say you don’t know or that a plan is under way than to offer up information you’ll later have to take back.

While it may be tempting to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the first day of a crisis, it’s not over. Don’t stop communicating. Continue to share updates and information on your company website and social media as well as with the news media. That way you’ll continue to have a voice in the ongoing coverage and avoid negative press due to lingering unanswered questions.

And remember to stay calm, stay confident and remain professional at all times. Managing a difficult situation with integrity is the best way to communicate in difficult times, get through it and come out stronger on the other end.

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How reporters use social media, today’s mass media

By Amanda Kerr, Consociate Media Writer and Media Strategist

Just three years after Harvard College student Mark Zuckerberg and three of his roommates launched a website to connect fellow students through the world wide web, a seminal media moment occurred immediately following the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16, 2007. A lone gunman murdered 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech and in the aftermath the press harnessed the reach and power of social media in new ways.

Reporters at The Washington Post used websites such as Facebook and Craigslist to quickly locate students connected to the tragedy. Messages students posted through Facebook were compiled in a story and names of victims appeared on The Washington Post’s website before they had even been released by authorities.

Facebook and other social mediums have become tools for the media to not only find people and contact them, but also to reach new and wider audiences. The very nature of Facebook — what was once meant to be a fun way for people to “socialize” on the Internet — has evolved and today it has become one of the leading ways younger audiences consume news.

Newspapers, magazines, blogs and television news stations use social media to promote stories and engage with readers and viewers. It started off simply enough, maybe a post teasing an upcoming weekend feature or a few links to breaking stories, but has since expanded to the widespread use of linking comment sections on articles to Facebook profiles, for example.

With the advent of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and others, including storytelling methods such as podcasting, the way in which reporters both report and gather the news has dramatically changed in the 12 years since the launch of Facebook.

What does that mean? For starters, social media has afforded reporters the opportunity to do a lot more reconnaissance on a subject, organization, business or person than just looking for a phone number on whitepages.com. Social media has become a go to place for local governments, school districts, businesses and nonprofits to promote events, share news and engage with customers and citizens.

With all that activity on social media, that’s where reporters are going first to look for the latest news on a company or organization.

It’s no longer just an obligation for businesses and organizations to throw up a few posts; social media is an essential part of a larger communications strategy.

Newshounds can track down supporters of a gun rights group, garden club, local business or school using social media. They can research social media channels to better understand an organization’s current projects, values or messaging. And they can use that trail to cast a wide net to find the best leads and the best stories.

Reporters, however, no longer passively use social media as voyeurs. The multimedia options available offer an entirely new platform for storytelling, whether it’s breaking news, photos, video, or abbreviated posts in the form of tweets. There are myriad ways to use social media to enhance a traditional newspaper, radio, or television story that helps give the audience another perspective.

That same approach can help a commercial real estate firm, apparel company or app developer engage customers through blog posts, social media campaigns and behind the scenes photos and video that tell their story and sell their brand.

Using social media to sell a brand isn’t something reserved for just traditional retail businesses. The various social media platforms allow media outlets and reporters to sell their news brand too, be it a newspaper, television i-Team, major news network, radio station or podcast.

The technology also gives reporters the opportunity to brand themselves. And it gives readers a more intimate perspective of their interests. Reporters can personalize posts by sharing a national news story that matters to them, or describing how a tornado has affected their own neighborhoods. That branding is good for engaging very distractible audiences who are bombarded by a host of competing media interests.

There’s something else, too. Social media allows reporters to actually connect with readers or viewers in real time. They can answer questions or respond to feedback. Reporters often use social media to connect with potential sources as well through Twitter direct message and Facebook messenger. The technology makes it easier than ever to reach out and connect.

The opportunities for generating story ideas over social media are endless. There are as many potential stories as there are social media users.

If businesses and organizations aren’t using social media to its fullest potential, there’s a good chance customers and clients won’t hear that message – and reporters won’t see it either.

It goes beyond just having things to post on Facebook and Twitter. Businesses, organizations and media outlets alike have to be present. They have to be relevant. They have to be accessible.

The world of mass media has been forever altered, going from a handful of Harvard students who wanted to connect socially on a website initially called “thefacebook” to a new media giant — just plain old “Facebook” — that has reshaped the world of news gathering, information dissemination and interaction.

What hasn’t changed, however, is connecting with people and sharing the stories of the world around us.



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The Power of Imagery in Social Media

Let’s face it. We are visual creatures. Even as a writer, when people say “a picture is worth a thousand words” I tend to agree…and totally get it. Especially when it comes to social media marketing.


Just look at the stats.

90% of information the brain receives is visual.
Visual content is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than plain text.
72% of all Internet users are now active on social media.
40% of people respond better to visual content rather than text.
Facebook posts with photos get 39% more likes than other posts.
What proof do we have here at Consociate? Of all the stories we tell across social media for a wide variety of companies in various industries, photos, memes and videos are bar none the most popular pieces of content.

The Office Dog -Severn, a frequent subject in Consociate social media images. She's always LIKED and LOVED.

Severn The Office Dog- a frequent subject in Consociate social media images. She’s always LIKED and LOVED.

So how can you incorporate more imagery into your social marketing? Here are a few tips you can use.

Not all photos are created equally. Use strong imagery.

Photos of poor quality can do more harm than good. Consider the composition, clarity and context of any photos you share.

Post relevant photos.

Photos shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and more should be relevant to the brand they are intended for. PETA won’t be posting pictures of a happy couple eating steak so be sure you stick to similar lines important to your brand. This includes “sharing” photos from other users. Post photos your target audience would want to see.

Include your link.

While photos are visually appealing, be sure to include a link back to your webpage. ALWAYS! Your goal is to gain more followers and ultimately bring them to your page where you can convert them to an actual lead.

Take real time photos.

Your audience wants to know what’s going on now! Don’t hesitate to take impromptu photos and post them right away. Being social is about being in the moment…even online.

Keep your images fresh.

While not all of your fans will even see what you post on social media (that’s just reality), for those that do follow you regularly, they likely don’t want to see the same images constantly recirculating. You’re more likely to get bored and click away, right? Take new photos when you can. Make it easy. Use your phone. Try using different filters and test out different angles (not too many angles…think get low and get high) to keep your photos fresh and visually appealing.

Have a right to post.

One important item to note, always be sure any photos you are posting are your own images or images, such as stock images, that you have a right to post. Posting photos that you do not have privileges to may result in a fine and have negative impact on your business. Photos are art and owned by the photographer. Be sure to respect their rights.






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