Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Asian Fusion Food Truck Gives the Smack Down to Food, She Thought

Food blogging/writing in my life has not been an end unto itself, but rather a journey. An ever evolving continuum of refining my craft through my own experiences, reading about the experiences of others and in turn editing my own approach. Much has changed since my first post, in good ways. In ways that I enjoy hugely. To this end, I am taking a food writing course from Mediabistro, as recommended at the 826 food writing panel this last week by Pat Saperstein, as reported by Caroline on Crack. Thanks, Caroline!

My first assignment in the Food Writing Boot Camp is to write a news article/profile. The suggestion is something timely, preferably controversial. While I don't consider the new era of the food truck to be the newest culinary trend, per se, I do find it to be controversial in the sense that everyone is talking about it. Therefore, the topic of my first article is the bi-coastal gastro truck trend. This trend (beyond that of the taco truck, and indeed a slightly different target market/end to a large degree) has hit both Los Angeles and NYC by storm in the last year and a half or so. I love a food truck myself, and writing about something for which I have a passion has always been my raison d'etre. Or raison d'ecrire if you will, and I think you might.

One PR rep for a very well known LA based Asian fusion truck had a very negative response to my perhaps sophomoric approach in seek of a first person account of the gastro truck trend. For my first assignment, I emailed several PR/management people of gastro trucks in both NYC and LA. I have had the pleasure of dining at nearly all of them. I have never had the pleasure of being so thoroughly told off, maybe not in my entire life.

My initial query:

"I am a free-lance writer/blogger working on a piece about the
gastro-truck revolution. You, your business, and your wonderful food
are a definite feature in the article. It would be of huge help to
the authenticity and thoroughness of the article if you were to answer
just a few questions about your business personally.

Thank you in advance and please call me if you would prefer to answer
these questions in person.

1) How long have you been in business?

2) In a sound bite, what inspires you to continue to do this work and

further it as a quality offering in the field of the food service
industry?

3) What do you love most about serving people in a mobile fashion?


4) Please share just one brief excerpt unique to serving quality food

on the road.

Thank you in advance, and see you at the truck!
Liz Xxxxxxxx
323-xxx-xxxx
www.foodshethought.com"

While this email may out me as a complete boob/newb to any experienced food writer, I was hoping to cop a friendly and businesslike tone, respecting that PR/management are already inundated with calls asking many of the same questions. Seeking and receiving several extremely friendly, warm and insightful responses from both coasts, I was shocked when, mid-Laker game, I received the following response:

"In the future, though, I'd advise you to be a little more personable -- a friendly phone call, perhaps? Or an email of inquiry 1st. Because to just write a few sentences - despite how flattering they are - and then go shorthand asking questions treats your subject like a vending machine and not a person.

1) How long have you been in business?
you can find this answer online quite easily.

2) In a sound bite, what inspires you to continue to do this work and
further it as a quality offering in the field of the food service
industry?
a sound bite would require a mic and I don't see one.

3) What do you love most about serving people in a mobile fashion?
Serving the people. Seeing them happy. Watching them connect to not only the food, but the strangers in line.

4) Please share just one brief excerpt unique to serving quality food
on the road.
Nevermind. This is ridiculous.

I like Lizzies in general, but you're just going to have to try again. The way in which you framed your questions makes me feel like I'm at a job interview -- and I'm not. You want to get a story, you're going to have to try harder. Obviously you don't know much about us or what we're about. And that's totally okay! But if you want me to help you out, realize that I'm a person, not a machine. I'm someone's little sister who gets paid peanuts.

I'm not saying you need to inundate me with flattery, but why make me do all the work when question 1 could have easily been found online, question 2 makes me feel like a vending machine, question 3 can also be found online and could have been spun in a more interesting way and question 4 is asking for me to write your story for you.

Try again, my dear!

Vxyyyyyyyyyyyyyze"

I am more than willing to learn from any mistakes I make in my quest to become a better writer. Having always been an academic writer and never a journalist, there are mistakes to be made and learn from. However, I would posit that there is more than one way for a PR person to express their disdain. And this is the wrong way. Sadly, I have been a huge supporter, and am afraid I have simply lost my taste for their food.

78 comments:

burumun said...

I think I know _exactly_ which fusion food truck that is :p
That seems to be their PR modus operandi (there are more examples!) ... too bad, really.

matt said...

Ugh.

As a person who gets tons of inquiries from students, universities, other bloggers, photographers, reporters, etc. I don't think I've ever taken the time to respond rudely like that. There's just no need to it. I can absolutely see their points in requiring something a bit more personable but I'd also rather prefer something professional any day. There's simply no need to be that way.

I just responded to an email from a high school student about my work. It's a question I get asked all the time and the answer is indeed online somewhere, but will it really kill me to answer them? Absolutely not. It's just about simple manners.

And when I do get emails from people that do seem robotic I have been known to respond with a "Hey, tell me something personal about you before I answer your email. Write back." That seems fair. And most times people do. But in your case I wouldn't asked the LA Times to tell me something about them if I was speaking to a reporter and your email prefaced your background.

Good luck in your endeavors and forget those that are snarky. Just not worth your time!

Food, she thought. said...

Thanks, Buruman, for the commiseration.

Matt: I appreciate the well wishes and you are 100% right that we must forget those who are snarky as we learn to be better at what we do.

Momma said...

Re your above comment: "you are 100% right that we must forget those who are snarky as we learn to be better at what we do".

I'm inspired by you, and I only know you second hand, via Spanks. You have so much WISDOM personally, professionally, spiritually. I hope to get to meet you someday.

Momma Spanks

Cara said...

This so so grossly unprofessional for such a popular local business that I just can't wrap my mind around it. This person has more to learn about proper PR etiquette than you do about journalism techniques. And it's too bad, because I was very excited to give them my business during my next trip to the Los Angeles area.

Love your blog. Don't let the bastards gind you down.

Gastronomer said...

OMG. Geez Louise. I think it's appropriate to pull out a Stephanie Tanner quote, "How ruuuuude!"

Cara said...

The more I read over this, the more grossly unprofessional I find it.

They need to upgrade to paying some in cashews. Someone who knows a little something about the art of public relations. I am horrified by the responses you received from this person.

Carrie said...

I find it hysterical that the PR person took so much time to respond to you at length as well as continue a dialogue when all she needed to do was send you a few friendly quips. Then all would have been well for you AND her business. Some people just don't think past their noses.

Like other commentors, I've gotten requests for info from strangers via email and have never, ever turned them away or berated them for the manner in which they asked me questions. We have all been and will continue to be in the 'starting out' phase of one endeavor or another in our lives. They key is to support one another, not kick in the shins. Just seems silly.

Cindy said...

Wow, what an unprofessional response. She spent way more time being nasty than if she simply chose to a. ignore your e-mail or b. quickly respond. She seemed to get a charge out of being cleverly nasty. I don't care if she's working for peanuts or is someone's sister (complete non sequitor in any case, who cares) her response shows arrogance and she clearly has too much time on her hands.

Cindy said...

one more comment- she says you can find out how long they have been in business on-line quite easily- really? how easily? I couldn't find it after looking at a few websites. I didn't see it on their website(although you did not use their name, most people know). I did see their PR person listed and note that she is working on her masters in "writing" (didn't realize that was a degree)- not surprising- her response is indicative of someone who enjoys using words as weapons and trys to demonstrate their superior intellect through writing.

Treena said...

I guess Kogi is making so much money, they can afford to lose customers, counties, and free publicity! I wonder how far their arrogance will carry them. Boycott Kogi!!!!

Where else can this Canuck get good road-side tacos this weekend? ;-)

Food GPS said...

Wow, that's a seriously rude "vending machine." If that Asian fusion truck wants to have any longevity, they shouldn't erupt at the people who are trying to promote them. It's amazing to think that's the brand's spokesperson.

On a happier note, glad to hear you're taking a food writing class at Mediabistro. I took two food writing classes with them and they were both great. Good luck on your assignment.

H. C. said...

Of course, being someone's "little sister" lets her get away with responses like that. This would've been unacceptable at a PR agency/dept. (and I actually work in that biz!)

On a sidenote, kudos to your for taking up the food writing class and as a former student and freelance journo, I definitely sympathize with your attempts to get responses and land interviews. It's always a tough, uphill battle unless your name's established or you can namedrop the right folks or orgs.

Anjali said...

Ugh. It really is too bad she felt the need to critique your questions instead of just answering them. Too many grad school writing workshops maybe?

But enough about her -- good luck with the MB food writing course! Is it the 8-week boot camp? I also did that and found it tough but extremely rewarding.

Krista said...

When I saw Roy Choi speak at the UCLA Restaurants Conference, he said that Kogi wasn't turning over a profit (how realistic that is given the lines, I don't know). Given your experience with the publicist, it's quite believable. They need to realize that their product is a novelty--which Angelenos love--but it's bound to fade soon, just like froyo and cupcakes if they continue to treat customers like trash. I also had a bad experience with Kogi when I saw them at the end of one of their stops in Little Tokyo: there was no one around and had finished serving food. I tried talking to one of their workers (not even for an interview, just to chat), and he LITERALLY put the keys in the engine and drove off as I was speaking. Let's show them the power of the blogger and BOYCOTT!

Rich Alossi said...

I'm reposting this from my comment on Eater LA.

Wow, that was awful!

Whatever you think of those questions, they were posed respectfully, preempted with a flattering comment about the truck, and based in a sincere desire to find out more info about what makes said taco truck "tick."

When I was blogging, I'd get dozens of "vending machine" requests from PR people and others demanding my time and responses. If I thought something was rude or irrelevant, I'd simply not reply.

If the answers to these questions can be found online, that's fine. Still, this "PR" person missed a perfect opportunity to frame the response with some back story about how it started, WHY it started, and what the owners plan on accomplishing. That would be better than had she replied, "We started in 2008" -- and MUCH better than her actual response of "Find it online."

For this "PR" person to reply so negatively reflects poorly on the vendor. I only wish you had called out the truck by name.

Esther said...

Gee, you think being made to feel a "vending machine" is better than being made to feel sub-human - what with those snarky-nasty comebacks?! How about trying to lend an ounce of respect, "public relations" rep?! Amazing!! And if you're getting paid by big brother, how about little sister finds a real job instead of settling for that nepotistic arrangement that pays kogi cabbage if it makes you so angry!?

(Nice to meet your blog, Liz. Don't let the snarkies get you down.)

@estarla

quarrygirl said...

wow. wow. WOW.

i can't believe you were treated that way. how dare they be so fucking rude when you are trying to write a complimentary piece on them. if they didn't like your email, they didn't have to reply.

what cunts. i will never eat at kogi again.

keep at it, don't let these fuckers get you down.

Rich Alossi said...

I'm posting my comment again from Eater LA:

Wow, that was awful!

Whatever you think of those questions, they were posed respectfully, preempted with a flattering comment about the truck, and based in a sincere desire to find out more info about what makes said taco truck "tick."

When I was blogging, I'd get dozens of "vending machine" requests from PR people and others demanding my time and responses. If I thought something was rude or irrelevant, I'd simply not reply.

If the answers to these questions can be found online, that's fine. Still, this "PR" person missed a perfect opportunity to frame the response with some back story about how it started, WHY it started, and what the owners plan on accomplishing. That would be better than "We started in 2008" -- and MUCH better than "Find it online."

For this "PR" person to reply so negatively reflects poorly on the vendor. I only wish you had called out the truck by name.

Yokota Fritz said...

That response is unbelievable. Wow.

Was your contact a real PR / marketing person, or just somebody in the office who answers all of the email?

Pat said...

That's terrible! I don't know any PR people personally who would do that, fortunately.
Good luck with your course, it really does help focus your writing and pitching, or at least mine did.

Brooke said...

Wow. That was rude. How thoroughly unprofessional. Clearly this PR person has let the overwhelmingly positive press go to their head and has forgotten the basic rule of public relations: CIVILITY.

Chin up. I think you won this round.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that her response to you was a mistake, considering it's her job to deal with requests like yours.

However, I don't disagree with anything she wrote in her reply. Were I in her position I would have been frustrated by your request. I just hope I would have had the sense to crank out the drivel you were looking for and move on with my day.

Your questions were lazy and banal, and her response was pretty mild. She just asked you to write to her like you were writing to a real person.

sI4m said...

their tacos are not that spectacular *and* expensive, but now this?!? i too lost my taste for them.

this is such an immature response. they need to replace that pr rep and give an apology.

i honestly don't think your email was impersonal at all.

andrea said...

honestly, I don't think she was particularly mean to you or that she did anything particularly rude.
Your questions were pretty sophomoric, and it sounded like you didn't put any thought into asking them. You just sounded like you wanted to jump on the bandwagon and get a free story out of them.

Like she said, they've already put up a lot of their information on their site, and they've done a lot of interviews already. If you were interested in learning something new or telling a new story about them, you should've looked at what's already out there. otherwise you should've just taken and cited stuff from the other articles out there.

And if you've ever talked to her, she's not particularly mean-spirited. I think it was nice of her to tell you how she'd like to be treated, though perhaps the manner in which she told you made you feel belittled. They are a small operation, so it's not like she should just churn out soundbites for you. If you're interested in becoming a better writer or reporter, you really should learn to do some research on your own.

Anonymous said...

Now that is some unprofessional behavior. Somebody needs a swift kick in the taco.

GourmetGal said...

I have just started blogging, and was reading the response from this so called PR person. I just think you have to tell yourself this person is in the minority, and she obviously has some issues, which she has unloaded on you. Most people are decent and kind, but I really think this person has a problem and shouldn't be in the PR business if she over reacts ( in my opinion, anyway) about what really were pretty decent and general questions. Some people are just way too sensitive and she must have a lot of time on her hands to write so much verbiage. Don't be disheartened!

Steve said...

It looks like you got your scoop. Congratulations.

Caroline on Crack said...

Wow, that sucks. It always surprises me when people go out of their way to be mean. She may not like the way you ask your questions or your questions themselves but to actually spend THAT much time to tell you off. If anything she could have just said, "No comment" or just not respond.

The good thing, though, is that you learned something from it. It'll always stick with you and make you want to do better. Try a different approach, etc.

BTW, I find it hard to believe that's their PR person. I used to be in PR and it's all about spin and making a good impression. Not angering or belittling media.

Anonymous said...

As someone who does PR for restaurants, I'm shocked by Kog-, I mean, "Asian fusion truck's" response. The PR industry is all about fostering good relationships with the media, and you didn't deserve that response, no matter how big or small your blog.

LESSON TO PR PEEPS: Word gets around!! In the age of Twitter, what did you think was going to happen?

As for you, Food she thought, here are some tips for the next story:

- NEVER send interview questions in the first email. Always introduce yourself first, explain who you write for and what you're writing. Keep it short and simple.

- Give a link to your blog, but never qualify it. (No need to say "my blog is rated XXX on such-and-such website and we get XXX readers daily" -- good PR people read blogs too and know who the movers and shakers of the blog world are!)

- Ask politely if you can set up an interview. Be specific about who you want to talk to. Tell them you only need XX minutes of their time, either by phone or email, whichever is preferable.

- When you finally get to do the interview, please do research first. There IS such a thing as a good question and a bad question. Since you have a limited amount of time to speak with someone, you want to ask questions that people don't readily know.

- Don't ask for sound bites! Even TV people don't do that. Most people don't even know what they are. YOU have to get the interviewee to give you one -- usually by following up with something like, "so in short..." Another tip is to look at your notes. You can pull from what they've already said!!

- And finally, if you can't land that interview, leave them out of your story! Because as any good PR person knows, the only bad publicity is NO publicity!

Best of luck in your writing!

Anonymous said...

eek. that is rude. :( i'm sorry you had to deal with such snark.

on the other hand, can i play devil's advocate and shed a little sympathy for the PR rep? i think it's bad manners to just email someone with interview questions instead of approaching them first about an interview.

your email comes across as unprofessional and a bit lazy; your questions sound like you're expecting them to do the research for you, instead of showing that you actually know who they are and what they do.

and requesting a brief excerpt/experience would probably be handled better if asked in person, or after an established conversation (instead of a cut and paste email).

i would be a bit peeved if someone wanted to write about me and had expected me to fully cooperate by doing everything requested in their email (and not even a phone call).

but honestly, it sucks how they treated you and it definitely should have been handled better!

suz said...

HOLY COW! i cant believe she wrote that to you. geebuz. i thought you sounded quite nice in your email. sigh... i stopped following them after their webpage gave me a headache. iT iS HaRRd To ReAd WhEn WorRRdS ArE LiKe ThIsS.

Horrible. I mean I had a convo with the PR girl at Emporio Armani and sounded like a tool but they were still very nice.

Hang in there!

Niko said...

There really shouldn't be any surprise at this kind of response from Kogi. Just take a look at their site and you can see how unprofessional they are about PR by the way the updates are WriTTeN!!!

Anonymous said...

A reminder to Kogi: Publicity is a privilege, not a right.

Anonymous said...

Most people having read the email would agree that what she did was unprofessional but also that your questions were generic ones that the alleged-but-unnamed food operation have answered various other coverage that they've received (if I'm guessing the outfit correctly).

I guess you're pretty pleased with yourself for getting the last laugh then for posting this huh? However, I wouldn't have posted the entirety of the emails and vented my frustration in such a way that it garnered the la.eater blog's attention. It's the the only reason why I came here, and I guess who knows how many others.

amymezzell said...

Wow. I can't believe a PR "professional" would be dumb enough to be so rude. Aren't they (me included with my PR degree) supposed to know how to be diplomatic? Someone needs to show this person's boss what they did. If that boss didn't find the response repulsive, then that whole company deserves a boycott EVEN more than now. What a jackass.

Lexybeast said...

Pretty astounding that a person in Public Relations didn't see what a PR Fail this was on her part.

mattatouille said...

It's no mystery which truck this was, and that response was definitely not a good one...let's hope they can salvage the situation.

Scott said...

Sorry, Andrea. You just don't get it.

Her questions were "sophomoric" and thoughtless?

Tough. She should answer them kindly and respectfully anyway. That's P.R. is all about.

This attitude is a bunch of crap. "Oh obviously this person is just a blogger with no power, so I can go tell her to go fuck off. And her questions are so banal, my deah. I'm so tired and weary of answering these same boring questions over and over..." What a typical snobbish, "I'm better than you" attitude that gives all of Los Angeles a bad name. And I have news for you: answering the same questions over and over is part of the game of being in business. Authors do it. Movie stars even have to do it. Are you telling me you are better than Brad Pitt???

Screw you, little sister! I don't care if you're getting paid peanuts, if you can't do your job properly, go work at Starbucks!

the woolly monkey said...

I hope she didn't actually make you feel bad for even a second, because all her emails display are complete incompetence coupled with immature stupidity.

Love you and your blog.

And its makeover!

Anonymous said...

Live by the sword, die by it.
PR Diva is doing a nose dive.

brennacca

Kristine Gordon said...

This is one Alice who obviously lives in her own Kogi Wonderland.

Soon she will barrel down that dark, dank hole ...

And land on my middle finger.

Sit and spin, beeeyotch!

:(

Signed,
A Former Kogi Fan

DC said...

That's terrible! I'm sorry that happened to you. A hubris moment perhaps? Interesting because so much of Kogi's exposure is based in WOM and social media, you'd think they'd be more careful about something like this.

Anonymous said...

Well I mean honestly it was kind of a lame ass introduction on your part. If you want to be a journalist you should learn that an opening gambit should never be done through the easiest form of contact to ignore aka "the unasked for email that gets ticked off in one of the following boxes; how could the writer possibly not realize I'm a) really busy
b) going through personal issues [like it sounds the sister is] c)not the sort of person that opens let alone responds to generic email from strangers"

When you have time you show up in person and if you can you do it without warning so you get the most unprepared responses, otherwise call ahead and then show up anyways if they say no. Email is just lazy

Caroline on Crack said...

Sorry to leave yet another comment, but as someone else said on here, the only bad publicity is no publicity. And that reminded me, when I had a run-in with a bar owner and another one with an event planner, I just stopped mentioning them on my site altogether. I won't promote their events, their new endeavors, etc. And to even mention the confrontations I had with them would only give them publicity. Not worth it.

Aaron said...

Well Liz, seeing as how this post has blown up all over the blogosphere and twittersphere, I won't comment on the controversy. I will say however, that it's encouraging that you're pursuing this journalism thing. Also, love the site re-design

Kate said...

I'll say it since no one else did: SO WHAT if you can find that information online? Does that mean it's accurate? Even if it is on the official website, it could be wrong.

(Last week, I saw a network-produced bio for one of their MVPs that was so full of mistakes that I had to throw the whole thing out and research the MVP's career through other sources.)

And OBVIOUSLY you cannot reprint excerpts from their website verbatim and attribute them as quotes from the restaurant -- that's not reporting by any stretch of the imagination.

Unbelievable.

Btw, I have been directed by editors to write pieces in JUST this way -- email the questions, and use the emailed answers in the story as if it had been a live interview. So I really don't see what the problem is.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kogi,

Next time, try this:

"Thanks for your interest, we'd love to participate. I'd prefer to provide you with personal responses, so can we set a time to chat on the phone?"

It would have taken you less time to write that than you spent being snarky and acting superior, would have gotten you the result you wanted, and would not have made you the scorn of the foodie blogosphere.

Al said...

Articles like yours are free publicity. Answer the questions, get it published, either online or in print, and people will read it and come give money to your food truck. It's an automatic win for the company, as long as it isn't accompanied by a bad review. So, logically, they should cooperate with any such requests.

The questions were generic enough that, if they didn't like them, they could have ignored them and given a few paragraphs of information that they DO think would make a good interview. And if they've been asked the same questions before time and time again, then they should have the answers already typed in, ready to cut and paste. Or, if the info is readily available on their website (iF YoU CaNN ReEd ItT), then add some little detail that the website doesn't supply. And of COURSE an interview asks the person being interviewed to do most of the work. Answers are always harder than question.

Really, there just isn't any excuse for a response like hers. It hurts business when they could have benefited from free good PR instead, had she just answered the damn questions instead of throwing a hissy fit.

Anonymous said...

"Food Truck"? Not in this case. Try "Roach Coach" instead.

Cara said...

With regards to "Anonymous" on May 20 at 2:21pm who says,

"I guess you're pretty pleased with yourself for getting the last laugh then for posting this huh? However, I wouldn't have posted the entirety of the emails and vented my frustration in such a way that it garnered the la.eater blog's attention."

Kogi's PR rep knew the interview was going to be used for publicity in a foodie blog. That it was published without naming her OR the business outright speaks volumes about the level of professionalism and restraint of the blogger vs. the asinine responses provided to her questions.

There is nothing in this blog posting that makes me think Food, She Thought is "pleased with herself." I'm sure she would have much preferred to have had a story about Kogi's gastrovan success over the PR debacle that they've now created for themself. And that the story garnered the la.eater blog's attention is no fault of her own either. Alice has made her own bed, and now she can lie in it.

Diana said...

I love how the people who have negative comments post them anonymously, such cowardice. Anyway, the PR response made me laugh because all I could think was that they so need a new job!

sarah said...

As a business associate of mine from Singapore used to say: when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Everyone with a hankering for bol gogi tacos should check out Calbi: www.CalbiBBQ.com

I hit them up near USC on McCarthy at Jefferson the other day (a second truck was parked around the corner on Hoover & Jefferson). Not only was there no line, the counter person was extremely friendly and helpful. I've never eaten at a different Asian fusion truck for comparison, but I thoroughly enjoyed Calbi's oferings.

Keep your chin up, Liz! Your blog is great!

craig said...

she took more time to respond rudely than she would have to answer the questions, ha. well i guess thats what happens when you think you are on top of your game and feel like you need to be an asshole, when the trend slows and this idiot burns more bridges with pr they had better get humble really quick theres a lot of people who can cook and the competition is only growing in l.a., i will definitely not being waiting around for the food after this idiot acted like some spoiled wannabe celebrity pr person thinking shes hot shit on a silver platter. no offense to the chef but being one myself if i had some idiot speaking for me like that to people i would flip, your pr person is an extension of yourself and your business. i think your pr person may have just summed it all up.

Ravenous Couple said...

Keep it up Liz! I think they're way over hyped for ok food and all this attention has gotten to their bloated heads and ego.

Anonymous said...

Cara, the blogger is bitter and took to her blog to vent her frustration. All fine, if you like to air your dirty laundry in the blogosphere. I don't agree with her decision to post the emails in their entirety, which I believe is rather tacky and childish.

Katherine said...

Liz,

Hi, fellow food writer here! Someone asked this upthread, and I'd love to know the answer as well: was this PR person in-house, or working for a hired PR company? If it's the latter, I'm even more fascinated by the response you received.

Either way, this bitchery goes completely against the sort of DIY ethos gourmet food trucks seem to espouse.

-Katherine Spiers

rlorenzo said...

I think this girl should take the response and learn from it. Really, your questions were asinine and you are basically sending a shotgun email to everyone and expecting good feedback? Naive!

You said you were a fan of this place before, then you should have made a more custom email to them.

For other places you doesn't know yet, you can send a generic email.

The person you emailed is that, a "Person", not a PR rep like you keep on saying.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, where is the evidence of bitterness? One example?

Katherine and Lorenzo, she is supposedly a relative and listed as contact for PR on their website.

Personally, had I to choose between being someone who has a lot to learn about journalism or a someone rude and classless, I would always choose to be the person on the road to getting an education. Politeness and graciousness are much harder to learn than journalism skills.

Lisa Burke said...

I say you find out where lil' sis *is* working exactly, show up, smile happily, and say, "Hey, can we try this again?"

I'd like to see if this jackass has the guts to be such a jerk to your face. My guess: prolly not.

craig said...

rlorenzo,
are you not working or something or have never ran operated or been a part of a business? sending a "shotgun" email isnt the point and the "pr" person should have never responded like an ass regardless the questions that are asked. any business savvy person knows that being an asshole is not good for business, image, or anyone.

i guess the "truck" in discussion here should not list "pr" or relatives associated with their business if they dont want to be bothered with questions since they are far to busy with their business, all the girl had to do was say, i am sorry i cant help you, not slam the poor girl who wrote asking a few questions, bite the hands that feed you, without people lining up to eat their food they would not have the business and there would be no more "taco truck" and all the hipster foodies who refuse to spend money on anything but ramen pho and taco trucks would be out of a 2 hour wait while being able to dress up and act too cool waiting in line.

i cant wait til the food scene here grows more to weed out the idiots who need to be humbled. this next year there are a lot of new places headed out here and i highly doubt there "pr" people will be driving away people with their bullshit attitudes.

Cara said...

Anonymous, I think we'll just simply have to agree to disagree on this one.

Which is perfectly ok. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Folks are real touchy around these parts. The response was actually quite polite, though direct. The original inquiry actually showed no appreciation for the restaurants she was contacting. The language is generic and reads like a form letter cribbed directly from "Effective Cover Letters R Us."

I, personally, would be ashamed for that letter to represent me as a food blogger. It shows that I'm not really interested in what I'm doing or whom I'm speaking with.

In comparison, look at the great answer the rep provides for one of the questions. It was a real question. The other questions could easily have been answered with a simple search or common sense. It's almost as painful as watching interviews of accident survivors and everyone asks a variation of "Where were you going?" or "Does this give you second thoughts about traveling this way again?"

It wasn't the nicest response, but far from this ridiculing and shame that folks are making this out to be. And press rep did provide explanation and examples. It wasn't just a get outta my face! If people need their hand held and gold stars for each learning experience in life, then get outta the kitchen. You're wasting the heat.

Will said...

Clearly their PR person is doing /something/ right, because I've never seen so much press / hype about so little. I mean Kogi is what it is, but does it really deserve (repeated) mention in the NYT?

Anonymous said...

This is unacceptable. There is no reason that they respond in such a snarky manner, whether or not your questions were not well-researched or professional. It doesn't matter if you're a journalist, student writer, etc, they should treat everyone with some dignity.

They simply need to replace their "little sister" PR with someone reputable. She is driving their business downhill. She has no skills as a PR except to Twitter with Capital letters in all places they shouldn't be.

Because of your post, I'm going to Calbi or any other knock off instead.

Anonymous said...

I am not a restaurant owner nor I am a food blogger, but I am a journalist, and that said as much as I'd love to take your side I have to side with Kogi. Your questions made it look like a cookie cutter email you were sending out to every truck in the city, and considering your first question was, "How long have you been in business", I think the Kogi reps' biggest mistake was justifying you with a response at all.

Anonymous said...

I have commented in Eater LA, and now will do so briefly here. People commenting in both places seem to enjoy arguing whether or not you did something wrong. That is neither here nor there. The response is immature and rude. If she worked for me in any capacity I would have fired her. Her response was shockingly rude. What you wrote in your email to this person does not even appear on the radar in terms of importance. You might consider changing the way you initiate contact with future subjects in articles that you are writing. I am not going to give that another second of my time. It is immaterial.

Maire said...

As a reporter myself, I do agree that it seems unprofessional that a PR person would just go off like that, but it sounds like you wanted a genuine and candid response and you got it.

If only more PR people had the courage to respond like this. If this really is the business I'm sure many of us are thinking, then they've just earned another life customer here. I'm sorry they hurt your freelancer newbie feelings, but them's the breaks and we all had to learn to be better reporters somewhere down the line from getting kicked around like this.

Those questions, indeed, were rather vague and unpersonalized, and the PERSON on the other end would probably have appreciated that initial e-mail of introduction.

Sorry, fellow journalist, gotta site Kant's categorical imperative: treat people as an end, not a means.

Joel said...

As a fellow fan blogger I'm pretty shocked at the response you got. Several people have commented that you or any blogger should first send out an email introducing yourself. Instead of just jumping in with a question. And yes that would have been a nice way to start off. But PR people need to realize that fan bloggers (those not owned by Gawker Media, AOL or other corps) are run by non-professionals. Sometimes we don't know how to contact them properly. But with that said they need to know that we can deliver better niche targeted readers.

I've been lucky that I get positive responses about 80% of the time. Another 15% I never hear from and fine with me as usually a smaller newer competitor will be happy to help me out. And then there is the other 5% that doesn't really get it but are glad to add me to an email blast.

Fan blogging and not corporate blogging is the wild wild west and not every PR person knows how to react. But almost all know that to spend more time mocking you then what they could have spent less time giving you correct answers. Hell even sending your a pdf press kit at the very lest.

Anonymous said...

alice sounds like a secret internet fatty.

LV said...

I have spoken with a lot of PR people for my articles, and they have always been extraordinarily lovely and helpful. Usually you can't find people more pleasant than those in PR. This chick could not possibly be a professional, though I do believe she's someone's sister--that's the only way she could get that job.

And your request sounded very nice to me- if a little formal. I've been lucky to have always had a publication's name to drop. And saying you're writing for a publication, no matter how small or new, always seems to get a positive response.

I think you did the right thing in posting this letter and in stirring up the bloggosphere. As a fairly new writer/journalist myself, it's very helpful to see so many different opinions on how to approach an interviewee.

Meredith said...

To the people who are justifying this girl's response - she is a professional public relations representative (supposedly). Her job is not to defend herself from perceived slights. It's to promote the brand, which in this case is her sister and brother-in-law's taco truck. If she were doing her job right, she would already have pat responses to these questions, such as, "We launched the first truck at the end of 2008, but the idea goes much further back than that," etc.

Most people are flattered when someone takes an interest in them. Hell, most PR people have to hound magazines, newspapers and blogs with their products. If doing her job is too annoying or time consuming for her, she needs to let someone else do it. I have a friend who runs her own PR firm and has more than one client she has to deal with - and the clients can be just as hard to work with as the media. I mean, she's doing PR for a unique, tasty product that basically sells itself!

I'm also surprised she didn't respond to you with capital "L"s in all her words, the way she blogs. "Writing" major, indeed.

Swelike said...

This kind of response from a PR person, however amateur, shocks me. That said, she probably taught you a good lesson that will serve you in future dealings with other PR people/food professionals.

I once ran the website for a show that was a bit of a cultural phenomenon and I can't tell you how many inquiries I received that were identical to yours. Frustrating, because they were obviously cut and paste and most of the answers were on our faq page.

She still shouldn't have responded so rudely. Your initial email was a bit rude, though I'm guessing it was unintentional. It's obvious that she wanted to knock you down and that was unnecessary.

Hey, lesson learned. I think this woman, and all of you bloggers out there, shouldn't take yourselves too seriously.

Anonymous said...

wow,they have major attitude, I also experienced it first hand myself.they should hire a professional PR person with all that $$ they get from their overpriced and overrated food.

Edward said...

I am not suprised...

The person in question is Alice Shin, self appointed Kogi "PR" person and full time grad student. She's not even SoCal based. She's somewhere on the East Coast.

I know Alice's cousin and the reputation in the family is that Alice is a little bit of a space cadet. Creative, independed minded, but she's also known as the queen of snark. The sooner her older sister and brother-in-law replace her with someone who has more, ahem... "professional" PR experience, the better.

I once wrote to Alice and she sent me a similarly condecending reply. She probably didn't know that I knew her family otherwise she would have been more, how shall I say? More "muted" in her response. I forwarded her email to me to her cousins and we all got a good laugh. Yeah, sounds just like Alice, they would tell me.

Edward said...

I am not suprised...

The person in question is Alice Shin, self appointed Kogi "PR" person and full time grad student. She's not even SoCal based. She's somewhere on the East Coast.

I know Alice's cousin and the reputation in the family is that Alice is a little bit of a space cadet. Creative, independed minded, but she's also known as the queen of snark. The sooner her older sister and brother-in-law replace her with someone who has more, ahem... "professional" PR experience, the better.

I once wrote an email to Alice and she sent me a similarly condecending reply. She probably didn't know that I knew her family otherwise she would have been more, how shall I say? More "muted" in her response.

I forwarded her email to her cousins and we all got a good laugh. "Yeah, sounds just like Alice," they would tell me.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Ms PR
I take your side in this argument
Being real is what got your crew to the top
keep it up
you have cajones