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“…look at public relations as an investment, which will bring in a large return in the long run.”

Clients that want to “B Seen. B Heard. and B Known.” can accomplish these goals when working with Bayer Public Relations. Shari Bayer, Founder/President of Bayer Public Relations runs a full-service public relations, consulting and marketing agency specializing in culinary, hospitality, lifestyle and entertainment.

Bayer Public Relations is based in the heart of Manhattan, and believes in the power of public relations to effectively communicate our client’s message and generate news.

MO:
Tell us about your personal background and how it led you to creating Bayer Public Relations?

Shari:
My career path is interesting as I never set out to be a publicist. I grew up in Miami, Fl and attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a general liberal arts degree. After college, I moved to Chicago and found myself drawn to the restaurant industry. I enrolled in the Cooking Academy of Chicago to train to become a chef, and gained invaluable experience in a variety of restaurant positions, including office manager at Rock Bottom Brewery, fine dining server at Charlie Trotter’s, and garde manger cook at Green Dolphin Street Jazz Club. After working from the front-of-the house to the back, I knew that I was passionate about the hospitality industry, but for the long-term, I wanted to find a career outside of restaurant life.

In 1998, I moved to NYC to attend NYU’s graduate Food Studies program, and dabbled in many different food industry related positions, from food stylist and recipe tester, to freelance writer and editor. I was then hired at a boutique PR agency that specialized in restaurant PR, representing some of the top chefs in the industry, including Bobby Flay and Todd English. It was there that I discovered that this PR career was the right fit for me. I always wanted to have my own business, so after gaining experience at several companies, I decided to venture on my own. I founded Bayer Public Relations in October 2003 with the vision of generating quality publicity for quality products. My company’s focus has been in the culinary and hospitality industry, mostly representing restaurants, as it is what I know best.

MO:
Why did you choose to create a public relations company that focuses on culinary and hospitality rather than traditional big business?

Shari:
For whatever reason, I love restaurants. There is just something about them that I find fascinating, from their original concepts to design, food and energy. Upon moving to NYC after immersing myself in the Chicago culinary scene, I realized that there are many non-traditional career options, including restaurant PR, which would allow me to focus on my passion.
There is a huge market for restaurants in NYC, and it is very competitive with places opening (and closing) all of the time, so having a specialty in restaurant PR makes sense here. It is rewarding to work with chefs and restaurateurs on their dream businesses and help them reach their goals. They come to NYC to see if they can make it here and compete with the best of the best, and companies like mine, are devoted to their success.

MO:
What do you say to culinary, hospitality, lifestyle and entertainment business that say they “don’t need” a public relations firm?

Shari:
I simply explain that everyone can use PR. Look at the big brands, like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s; they still work on their marketing and PR campaigns even though they have established themselves as household names. The restaurant industry is an extremely tough business, especially in NYC. PR should be included in any serious restaurateur’s business plan, as it is as important as rent, food, labor, etc. PR is essential to getting one’s business name out there and the right customers interested. I tell potential clients to look at public relations as an investment, which will bring in a large return in the long run.

MO:
What have been some of the highlights you have experienced since starting Bayer Public Relations?

Shari:
I think the best part has been becoming a true part of the culinary community and working with outstanding chefs, from Jean-Georges Vongerichten to Iron Chef Cat Cora. Over the years, I have immersed myself in the food scene, attending numerous nationally recognized annual culinary events, such as Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and the James Beard Foundation Awards. Networking has been a key to my success, enabling me to meet and become friendly with the crème de la crème in the industry, including chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, writers, event planners and more. I am lucky that attending tasting events and dining out is a part of my job. It’s all one big highlight!

My business has also helped me achieve recognition among my peers. In Fall 2010, I was inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier (www.ldny.org), and this past summer I became the President of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance (www.nywca.org) for a two-year term. I am very proud of both of these accomplishments.

MO:
You volunteer with Share Our Strength and City Harvest. Can you tell our readers about these organizations?

Shari:
Share Our Strength (www.strength.org) is a national nonprofit organization working to end childhood hunger in America. It holds culinary events, solicits individual donations, and utilizes social media efforts to raise funds which are then used to fund long-term solutions to the hunger problem. City Harvest (www.cityharvest.org) is the world’s first food rescue organization, dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women, and children. It has served NYC for more than 25 years, and this year alone, will collect more than 30 million pounds of excess food from all segments of the food industry, including restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers and farms. I have been involved in both of these incredible organizations mostly on their large fundraising events, including “Taste of the Nation” and “Summer in the City”. Each organization brings the hospitality community together to help combat hunger issues and provide to those in need.

MO:
Who would be your ideal client and why?

Shari:
That’s hard to say. I love working with talented, passionate chefs and restaurateurs. Perhaps the “next” Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller or Mario Batali would be ideal. What I mean by that is a chef who has undeniable skill, drive and personality, who is also a good communicator and business person. Not only someone who can cook and manage a restaurant, but who has passion for our industry and wants to make a difference. They would ideally believe in me as much as I believe in them, and understand how PR works. It would also be great to work with an amazing restaurant company, such as Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, and more corporate clients who have larger visions and budgets, such as a resort and spa, and spirits company. The sky is the limit!

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