Dan Q. Dao is the deputy digital editor at Saveur, where he is able to combine his passion for the food and beverage industry with his talent for producing engaging and mouth-watering content. He joins from Time Out New York and is ready to delve into global cuisine and travel in his new role with the food and beverage magazine. Food and wine can be part of the motivation for deciding on a destination when traveling, and many people turn to Saveur for its deep knowledge of hot trends, but also the standbys that set a region apart. Although Dao is a new addition to the staff, the magazine has been around since 1994, providing a home for food culture in print and digital. Saveur is a trusted place for culinary tips, and we know you want some tips for building a relationship at the magazine. We’ve got tips from Dao on what and how to pitch tasty treats and stories.
Tell me a little bit about yourself: How did you get your start and whom have you worked with? What is your specialty?
I’m a Houston native, lifetime restaurant worker and NYU journalism graduate. In college, I co-founded the New York chapter of SpoonUniversity.com, and covered food and drink at Time Out New York. Post-graduation, I spent a year in hospitality and nightlife PR, then returned to Time Out as assistant food and drink editor and eventually was promoted to digital community and commercial editor. I also write for Liquor.com. My specialty is food, drink and travel, but one of my biggest passions is bar and cocktail culture.
What kind of information do you like to receive?
I like to receive information of national and global interest in the food, drink and travel spaces. This means the usual restaurant and bar openings, seasonal and holiday roundups and recipes but also human interest stories and wider trends. Since publicists are working on the ground with the brands and people we cover, it’s especially helpful when they can spot a broader trend and flag it, even if that means their client has to share the limelight with other personalities or venues.
How do you prefer to receive pitches?
To my work email only. Followups and calls will be made if there’s interest, but I should be able to tell what your pitch is within seconds of opening your initial email.
What catches your attention?
I love meeting publicists who share the same enthusiasm for the hospitality industry as I do, because it usually translates to them being knowledgeable and reliable. It’s also very apparent when someone is pitching something they don’t understand or care about. And even when someone has a less-exciting client, it’s always refreshing they can be honest and say “Hey, I know this isn’t the most thrilling topic, but I really think there is a story here – Can you take a look?,” rather than try to pass it off as something exciting just for the sake of it.
Do you have any pet peeves or advice for PR professionals to keep in mind?
Not reading the instructions. It seems elementary, but it’s stunning how many blurry, vertical iPhone photos I receive after sending an outbound PR blast asking for high-resolution, horizontal photos. If you don’t have one, just say so and we can try to find a workaround. On the same note, be available. Don’t just send your pitches and then disappear once we show interest — you should be seeing pitches from beginning to end if you want the placement.
How do you use social media and other sources when gathering leads/story ideas?
I’m across all social media platforms daily searching for story ideas. This means tracking new venue openings, finding upcoming talent and stalking all of our competitors. I’ll also occasionally post things I’m working on if I need help, and ask people to email me if they have anything that might be a fit. I’d suggest following editors on social media to see what types of things they are interested in and are working on.
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Image courtesy of Thana Brick and has been cropped to fit.