Five Questions About How An Iconic Restaurant Chain Is Dealing With A Challenging Business Environment
Adam Golomb is the Chief Marketing Officer at Primanti Bros., which operates restaurants in a number of U.S. states.
What has been your professional path to now working as Chief Marketing Officer for Primanti Bros.?
I spent the first part of my career with Eat’n Park in various marketing roles. I then went to Giant Eagle and worked in marketing, merchandising, product development, and, ultimately, led their $1 billion gift card marketplace. In 2019, I joined Primanti Bros. as the company's first Chief Marketing Officer.
What have been the biggest challenges over the last several months as Primanti Bros. was responding to the pandemic and Black Lives Matter?
As a restaurant, our goal is to provide a safe atmosphere for our fans to enjoy the food – and the experience – that we have been serving up since 1933. This year, we have been learning about the risks associated with COVID-19 at the same pace as our fans. Our only option has been to respond quickly to new learnings and to communicate effectively and clearly to our fans that we are open, safe, and still the same great place that they have known for 87 years.
With regard to Black Lives Matter, we leaned on C4CS® to assist us to clearly articulate to our fans and the community the position we have held since our founding. That is, that we take community and social responsibilities to heart and are committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect. That we believe there is no place for racism of any kind in our neighborhoods, workplaces, or nation. And that Primanti Bros. supports, serves, works with, and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Black community – just as we have always done and will continue to do.
How have you and your colleagues continued to attract customers and protect the Primanti Bros. brand in this time of uncertainty?
Since our founding, Primanti Bros. has provided exceptional value and exceptional quality to our fans. The pandemic presented a unique opportunity for us to shine an even brighter light on our value and our wide menu offerings. We worked hard to efficiently communicate these aspects of our story. Thankfully, the pandemic did not force us to reinvent ourselves – it served to reinforce what we have always been.
The business world is not going to be the same as we move forward. What is your view of the restaurant industry and Primanti Bros. in six months and a year from now?
While things may look a little bit different, the driving factors behind why people choose to dine out will not change. Our fans are looking for a momentary escape. They are looking for great value and a good meal. We are going to continue to offer that to them, whether it is through curbside pick-up, delivery, or a safe, dine-in experience.
We believe that as we move past the current health crisis, our fans will continue to demand strict safety measures in our restaurants – and we will continue to provide an atmosphere where fans can feel safe and comfortable dining.
Regardless of industry, what is your advice for other senior leaders with respect to organizational resilience and responding to unexpected issues and events?
When responding to unexpected demands, two things that are seemingly at odds are important to remember. First, unwavering attention to detail, protocol and procedure, as well as the willingness to be flexible and evolve as a company. And second, procedures and lines of communication must be able to operate as second nature, allowing you to quickly develop, adapt, and implement a new plan for success.
Working With The News Media In A Videoconferencing World – How You Can Become An Expert And Why You Should
Let’s face it, whether you like Zoom, prefer Microsoft Teams or use another platform, videoconferencing has exploded in popularity, thanks to the millions who are working from home because of the pandemic. The numbers don’t lie. Microsoft Teams grew users by 70% between March and April of this year, and market leader Zoom claims several hundred million daily meeting participants. And that’s not even counting the dozen or so other videoconferencing platforms on the market.
Without a doubt, videoconferencing as a tool for interacting with each other is here to stay.
“We believe the habits we see are more durable and will persist well beyond the current crisis,” Microsoft VP Jared Spataro told Geekwire right at the start of the pandemic-generated spike in virtual meetings.
At C4CS®, we’ve seen how videoconferencing has caused a sea change in the way news media are covering organizations. Reporters are now conducting most of their on-camera interviews using videoconferencing platforms, and we predict that trend will continue. Not only is a virtual interview safer than in-person during the pandemic, it is also easier, suits reporters’ 24/7 deadlines, and gives them the ability to conduct on-camera interviews no matter where their interviewee is located.
Good framing, lighting, and background lets people focus on you and your message.
The ability to conduct successful interviews via video conference is a strategic win for organizations.
Reporters in faraway locations now have access to industry leaders, no matter where they are headquartered or working on any given day. This gives companies the ability to spread their messages and respond to the unexpected “on video,” far beyond their home market and without having to pay for employee travel.
As a result, media training is even more crucial than it was before the pandemic
. Not only must leaders be prepared to handle reporter questions and effectively communicate their organizations’ messages, but they must be trained to do it using a new and possibly unfamiliar platform. Doing a virtual interview comes with its own set of needed skills – and potential pitfalls -- that can mean the difference between success and failure and can be mitigated by recurring training and practice.
Not paying attention to camera placement can give your ceiling more screen time than you get.
Rather than viewing on-line media training and interview coaching as a trade-off or “less than” traditional in-person training, we think it provides significant opportunities:
- Media training and performance coaching can be even more effective via video conference given that your interaction with a reporter will likely happen on a virtual platform.
- Virtual coaching sessions communicate the same valuable information, using much of the same content customized to your organization's needs, as you would experience during in-person training.
- Group media training, done virtually, can include participants from all over the globe, eliminating the expense and safety concerns of having employees travel to a central location.
- Mock interviews and performance critique are even more powerful when they are conducted in the space where you will be doing actual media interviews. It’s real world experience.
In addition to traditional instruction on message development and delivery, our sessions include specific instruction on how to conduct a successful video interview. This includes everything from proper computer camera set up and lighting, to body language, vocal performance, and facial expressions, even the impact of the clothing and background you select.
Think the plastic lizard in the background distracted from what he was saying?
Our one-on-one coaching and group training will help you recognize the mistakes that will draw attention from your message and how to avoid the pitfalls. If you don’t think your audience can be easily distracted, check out these statistics from retired UCLA professor Dr. Albert Mehrabian on what audiences will remember about your interview or presentation:
Bottom line: During these times of uncertainty and crisis, managers are more likely to be called upon to do media interviews, and those interviews will predominantly be conducted in a virtual space. Our team looks at this as an opportunity not only to respond to the media more effectively, but also to actively market our clients as experts, raising their visibility and that of the organization.
But only if you are properly prepared for success!
This article was written by C4CS® Vice President Anne Linaberger, who is a former television news director, anchor, and investigative reporter. Interested in learning more about how we can help you or your organization’s leaders and spokespersons increase familiarity and skills regarding media interviews via videoconferencing? Please contact Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food For Thought
“Fortune certainly favors companies with broad concern for all stakeholders and good workplace practices. They are better prepared to deal with and mitigate crisis, like the current coronavirus pandemic.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University