The arduousness of afternoon teas
Ah, afternoon teas. In my final PR job, I represented a hotel chain who, for all their global properties and sleek London spas, were never happier than when we achieved coverage for their cucumber sandwiches. Which, frankly, was not often, as this particular afternoon tea was barely different from the capital’s other 5,834 offerings.
On top of the crowded marketplace, afternoon tea promoters face another problem: does the ritual belong in restaurant/food sections, or in travel? I’d say the former, instinctively, yet with hotels so frequently involved there’s a strong argument to be made for the latter. Ultimately, it’s a case of checking on publications’ previous — or just targeting London-focused websites which cover lifestyle in general. Those are the likeliest places for coverage anyhow.
Because here’s the trickiest part: finding something distinct to say. Not only are standard afternoon teas samey, but there now seem to be so many twists — a Charles Dickens-themed version; a Halloween-inspired one — around that even funky new offerings are becoming saturated. Unless you’re the Langham hotel, where the meal was invented, it’s mighty difficult to stand out.
As a journalist, I’m looking for some sort of truly distinct story, such as this week’s news that the austere French restaurant L’Escargot is launching an afternoon tea. Perhaps an anti-afternoon tea approach, where the meal is deconstructed or wholly reinvented. Or a truly wacky, unlikely theme: “London’s most woke afternoon tea”, perhaps, or an afternoon tea with different options for every star sign.
If your client is only offering something middle-of-the-road in terms of angle, then try and think outside of the proverbial box. Are there perceptions or protocol which can be challenged? Need it be limited to afternoons? Could it be paired with movie screenings? Would a survey reveal that younger attendees would come should 21st-century versions replace finger sandwiches and Victoria sponges with toasties and cupcakes?
What Richard Thinks…
“For some opportunistic, Cummings-linked topicality, Frances at Lotus wins this week’s weekly gong“