Meet Alex Higgins, Marketing Coordinator for Atlanta-based Fifth Group Restaurants. Alex possesses a robust background in food marketing and PR, and is a great resource for any Working Girl looking to break her way in the a niche (and delicious) industry!
Q: When did you first begin taking an interest in working in food marketing, and what steps did you take to make a name for yourself in such a niche industry?
A: My love of food goes deeper and further back than anything else. I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t mentally planning my meals or dreaming of a night out to dinner. My family jokes that when I’m not eating, I’m writing or talking about it. I studied at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, but it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Florence, Italy that I realized I could blend the two loves of my life into one career. When I got back from Italy, I made every big decision with this arbitrary “food communications” goal in mind. I petitioned to create my own Food & the Media course, started a food blog and began researching the best cities to move to after graduation to get into the industry. So far in Atlanta I’ve worked with a restaurant group in Buckhead, a meal kit delivery startup and now Fifth Group Restaurants! Q: Walk us through what a day in the life is like as the Marketing Coordinator of Fifth Group Restaurants!
A: Well, I guess I can echo every marketing professional’s answer and say that no day is typical. I spend most mornings catching up on industry news/blogs, checking our social media channels on Hootsuite and replying to posts. After that the day can take off in a hundred different directions! My favorite days are ones that I’m in the restaurants taking pictures, interacting with the staff and learning about special events or upcoming menu changes.
Q: Managing social media for seven restaurants must be a fun challenge - how do you strategize social content for each property and keep all content fresh and engaging?
A: It’s definitely a full-time job inside of my job! I love every second of it, but I couldn’t do it without our wonderful restaurant managers and chefs. Because I can’t get into all of the restaurants every day, I rely on them heavily for photos and details to use for content. I’ve been working with each restaurant team individually to discuss what makes unique and engaging content and how to take and send great photos. I want the content from each restaurant to be authentic, so I’m constantly thinking of ways to make it easier for them to get it to me quickly and constantly. Q: What would you best advice be for women hoping to break into marketing or PR in a niche industry? How can they brand themselves as "experts"?
A: Read constantly. I keep up with 6-10 different food blogs every day, and most of my “free time” reading choices are books on food writing. Immerse yourself in the field. For me, this means eating out more than the average person so I can stay up-to-date on what other restaurants in Atlanta are up to (sounds awful, right?). If you like writing, I’d also highly recommend starting your own blog and writing about anything that interests you. There’s no better way to showcase your personality and build up a strong portfolio. I started a food blog in college that has fallen to the wayside since I’ve begun working fulltime, but my biggest personal goal right now is to revive it Q: Where would you like to see your career five years from now?
A: I’d love to start my own food and beverage communications consulting firm. A lot of small, local companies can’t afford to bring someone on to do what I do fulltime, and I’d love to help those businesses get the assistance they need. I’d also like to be managing my own widely-read food blog, posting 3-5 times per week. Owning my own business would make it a lot easier to test and shoot recipes while the lighting is best!
Keep up with Alex on Twitter at @AlexHiggins_, and learn more about Fifth Group Restaurants and all of their fabulous properties here and by following @FifthGrouper – the brand's Twitter handle is close to 10,000 followers, let's help them reach that goal!