By Ray Philpott, PR Week UK, Friday, 24 October 2003 12:00AM
According to Corus Hotels - a British mid-market hotel chain - the UK is currently suffering from a shortage of trained chefs. Company research showed there are currently nearly 30,000 unfilled chef positions in the UK. This affects not only the hotel industry, but the wider leisure sector, including restaurants, pubs and fast-food chains. In response, the company began its first Chef School.
To publicise the Chef School throughout the different regions where Corus Hotels operates. To fill 20 places with trainees, who would be paid while training, mentored by qualified chefs and be awarded NVQs on completion.
Strategy and Plan
To build media awareness of the school, Equanim Le Fevre targeted regional press outlets with information about Corus, details on the UK chef shortage and highlighting the fact that, although celebrity chefs make the job look easy, there is much more to it than first appears.
As Corus has over the years had to look as far afield as South Africa and Eastern Europe for chefs, and was keen to get local people signed up, the PR team created two angles. The first stressed workplace employment and was targeted at the human resources industry. The other concentrated on pushing, via the regional press, the opportunity Corus was offering to local people interested in a catering career.
Measurement and Evaluation
More than 30 regional daily newspapers covered the launch of Chef School, including Anglia TV, LBC, the Yorkshire Evening Post, Brighton's The Argus, the Birmingham Evening Mail and the West Midlands Express & Star. National coverage came from the Steve Wright show on Radio 2.
As a result of the coverage, all 20 places were soon filled with people from regions where Corus Hotels exist. All coverage mentioned the chain.
Rita Congera, a Stafford-based journalist at the Express & Star, said: 'It was a really good local story. Many photographs supplied by PR companies are unusable, but in this case we had no problem printing them.'
With the success of the press coverage, Corus is looking to repeat Chef School next year, and the chain will be building on the use of media relations to fill the positions.
This article was first published on PR Week UK