Creativity Shines as SWAG, Press Events, Media Junkets Endure in COVID

Imagine trying to open a restaurant during COVID. Especially during the most recent Omicron surge in New York City—where some facilities shut down in late December and early January 2022 due to staff shortages. COVID took entire teams taken out—sometimes for a week or more.

Aside from waitstaff, cooks, dishwashers and managers, the launch of a restaurant in the largest city in the country requires expertise from PR professionals. Pre-COVID, an opening might include a celebration with a red carpet and open bar with public figures and industry names. Invitations could be extended to culinary media for an intimate dinner event showcasing the menu.

Ashton McLeod, VP, The Door, found herself in a precarious position several months ago. Her team's remit was the launch of chef Spike Mendelsohn’s PLNT Burger during the height of Omicron in New York. Instead of hosting a large opening, McLeod needed to create a safe, personalized way to promote the new restaurant. And so the burger drop was born.

McLeod's team identified media (Rachael Ray, Vice’s Munchies), influencers and NYC restaurant leaders (Daniel Boulud, Marc Forgione). Next, it determined the best COVID-safety practices for each burger drop.

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