Social Media Work
GEORGE BROWN COLLEGE CENTRE FOR HOSPITALITY AND CULINARY ARTS: SOCIAL MEDIA, BRANDING, AND COMMUNICATIONS
From 2014 to 2016, I built the social media platforms and branding/communications from the ground up for George Brown’s prestigious Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (CHCA) program.
Highlights and Accomplishments
1. Social Media and Digital Branding
I organically built the program’s Instagram following to over 3,000 followers by featuring the students. Examples: every Friday, I focused on a student who was using the hashtag #gbcchca as the school’s “Friday Foodie” to highlight THEIR accomplishments. Twitter’s following was built by linking to articles that showcased thought leadership around the topics of hospitality and culinary arts as well as job postings/internships relevant to students in our program. Facebook was used to promote our events and highlight the student experience through our photo albums. I created a database of over 5,000 photos taken both by myself and professional photographers we hired. Our team also worked very closely with a video production company to create engaging promotional videos to showcase our programs and events. I cleaned up and organized the program’s YouTube page to ensure ease of search for prospective students and partners.
2. Promotion and photo/social media coverage of events and programs
The CHCA’s branding strategy included at least two events per week and annual student showcases like the Marriage of Food & Wine and our Career Fair. I captured all photos on our social platforms using relevant hashtags and to bring attention to our hashtag, #gbcchca. Our team also created special events with visiting events like the Culinary Cities of the World. Our event in 2015 showcased Italy; it was a highlight to have Massimo Bottura, one of the world’s leading chefs, to educate (and feed!) our students and faculty. Furthermore, Bottura judged a culinary competition where one of our students won an internship to work with him for four months. This eventually turned into a full-time position and opportunity of a lifetime for that student; one of the stories to highlight about where your education can take you.
One of the main focuses of our post-graduate programs including the Italian post-graduate program, where students created a three-course menu learned from their co-op experiences working in different restaurants and hotels in Italy to cook and serve at The Chefs’ House. The menu was featured as the lunch menu of the week on Post City and promoted weekly in a collage featuring the three courses and the student each week on social media.
3. Redesign and Updates of Recruitment and Externship (REX) Page
I redesigned and updated all content on this webpage with the help of our teams in our Recruitment and Externship, Alumni, and Web Design. This page is now one place where you can find up-to-date information on our programs; a co-op or externship coordinator contact for potential partnerships; and testimonials from our students and employers. I took all photos for this page as well.
4. George Brown College’s Newest Building: 215 King
As an extension of the CHCA’s Chefs’ House, 215 King is a welcome new home for students in the Hospitality program. In promotion of the CHCA’s newest post-graduate program at the time, Advanced Wine and Business Beverage Management, the new wine theatre was a welcome space and a purchasing factor for those wanting to further their education in wine and beverage management. I invited key writers and influencers to our launch and also started a project to invite key partners (PR companies, for instance) for media events to build buzz around the space and as a revenue opportunity for the building.
5. Maintaining a Twitter Account for our Student-Run Cafe, @gbccafe
The students at the CHCA get hands-on experience by cooking delectable lunches for the masses in our GBC Cafe. I personally know many people who work in the neighbourhood and across the college who use the account to determine what they’re having for lunch that day. It’s practical and useful for other students, faculty, and neighbours. It’s also another channel to promote our events. I taught the cashier how to take great food photos and use relevant hashtags to promote the specials. In their customer-centric voice, lunches are quickly sold out on a regular basis.
Media Relations Accomplishments
1. Maclean’s rated GBC CHCA as one of the top culinary schools in the country.
2. Liora Ipsum, a food writer from blogTO, rated our baking and culinary classes as one of the top classes in Toronto.
3. I worked with very closely with TV Host, Adamo Ruggiero, of the web series, The Dot, to capture the CHCA’s post-graduate French Patisserie pastry pop-up. The pop-up and associated media helped to create buzz for the relatively new program, which at the time was half-full for registration in its second year.
4. Top Food blogger, Mardi Michels, of Eat. Live. Travel. Write. used a question she asked Ruth Reichl in the CHCA’s interview series about what she should challenge her students to cook next into an engaging and practical blog post. You can read about it here.
5. I had developed a good relationship with food blogger Annie Chu of the blog, Chu on This, through the blogging world and associated press event circuit. She seized on the opportunity to showcase the CHCA’s new food and educational tours being offered by the Continuing Education program. She produced a detailed account of her experience through showcasing the suppliers (many of them, the CHCA’s graduates) and via crispy photos that transport you to where she is. Additionally, she showcased her experience on Social Media (Instagram, Twitter), effectively marketing the tours to her food-focused audience. You can read her review here.
GEORGE BROWN COLLEGE FOUNDATION:
FOOD COURT SOCIAL
I was hired by GBC’s Foundation in 2016 to build their social media and digital communications for their annual event, The Food Court Social, which assisted in meeting their $200,000 fundraising goal. This event supports the funding of the George Brown College Augmented Education program. The program assists individuals with mental health and addiction issues to get practical job training skills in the food and construction industries.
Social Media Properties:
Instagram: @gbcfoodcourtsocial Twitter: @gbcfoodcourtsocial Facebook: facebook.com/GBCFoodCourtSocial/
1. A short-form and long-form strategy and spreadsheet template was created to illustrate the ROI to investors. Every tweet, Facebook post, and instagram post was tracked. The content proved to be an efficient template for next year’s event.
2. With a minimal budget, we invested in Facebook advertising and sourced editorial promotion through previous contacts.
3. I interviewed and photographed students to share their personal journeys through the program from adversity to success through the power of education. This added to recent and up-to-date coverage under the event’s new branding. My most key piece was this advertorial to a targeted audience on the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance blog. You can read about it here.
4. Media relations through the various BIAs was instrumental in spreading the word of the event. Coverage was also free, which helped in a minimal communications budget.
5. I also did live social media broadcasting the day of the event and mentored/managed another member of the team to ensure that our coverage of the event was on all of our platforms.
6. Bi-monthly I worked with our volunteer team, presented on our social updates and to increase followings had everyone re-tweet, gram, or share on their personal networks about our event, which proved to be a successful strategy.