In the next installment of our Meet the Media series, we’re digging into the world of food PR – and making our stomachs growl as we do! This week, get to know Madeline Dow Pennington, the director of Marketing & Public Relations for renowned Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas. An enthusiastic communications professional, Madeline has done a remarkable job at ensuring success for Tom’s Seattle-based company and many restaurants in the region, despite the challenges of the pandemic. Learn more about Madeline below!
How did you find yourself in your current job?
After ten incredible years within the Washington wine industry, I had a craving to work in a different industry in order to grow and learn something new. Coincidently, Tom Douglas was moving around his marketing team just prior to opening up The Carlile Room, and I was asked to come on board as Director of Marketing & PR for the company. Since I’ve been in this role, our company has changed a lot (especially since the pandemic). In August, I took on the role of producer for the Hot Stove Society Radio Show (formerly called Seattle Kitchen) with Chefs Tom Douglas & Thierry Rautureau. We continue to pivot, adjust and navigate these very different times as a small restaurant group with a lot of heart and a lot of teamwork.
Which stories are you most proud of?
I think I am most proud of Leslie Kelly’s recent article for Forbes.com about Tom Douglas and our on-going pivots during this pandemic. She did a great job highlighting all of the changes that our team has had to make (since closing all locations back in March), but more importantly, how optimistic Tom’s outlook is about the change (when most business leaders fear it): “’There’s nothing like the feeling of being busy, getting your ass kicked, knowing you’re feeding people and making them happy,’ Douglas said.”
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my job is how our team lives and breathes the mission statement: deliciousness served with graciousness. Rarely do you see a group of employees embrace (or even recite word-for-word) their company’s mission statement on a daily basis. We use it as a barometer for almost everything we do. We make sure every item, even the smallest condiment, is delicious – and we go out of our way to make sure each interaction with a guest is gracious and kind. It is not only my favorite thing about my job, but my favorite thing about each and every person that I get to work with.
What is your interview style?
I started producing Tom & Thierry’s Hot Stove Society Radio Show (formerly Seattle Kitchen Radio Show) back in August and have learned a lot about interview styles in the last few months. One of the hardest things about radio is considering the lack of visuals. I consistently have to remind myself (and who ever I might be interviewing) to be overly descriptive, especially when it comes to food and cooking techniques. Sure, most people can visualize a piece of fresh salmon – but when Tom describes how determine when it’s perfectly cooked, you can’t simply say, “…just like this.” What is the texture? What is the color? What are the smells that fill your kitchen – or does something taste better when you have a certain playlist in the background? Those are all elements that I try to weave in with my interview style.
What do you look for in a story?
Recently, we have featured a segment on the radio show called “Pass It Down.” Tom has always been a huge advocate for preserving family heirloom recipes; and perhaps, they’re not the traditional typed-out recipe, but a story or taste or holiday tradition. The one thing that I seek out in these stories is that tradition of eating together, around a table, sharing stories, as a family. It is something that I was fortunate to have when growing up – and it’s something that I prioritize now with my own family – making sure everyone sits together, screens off (as much as possible) and reminiscing about the day. Stories that highlight that are important to showcase on the radio, because, like Tom, it’s something that I hope to preserve.
What is your day like at your job?
Which day?! Truthfully, every day is different, especially during the pandemic. In a typical week, we have a pop-up event at our Ballard location, a special themed dinner box (also picked up in Ballard), a few Hot Stove Society virtual classes, updated COVID health policies, holiday preorder menus, signage requests, menu and website updates, press inquiries – plus constant posting and monitorization on social media platforms. It’s a lot – but it’s diverse, engaging and a lot of fun.
Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I look up to one of my favorite writers, Ruth Reichl, who is also a journalist and chef. The combination of her courage, writing style, genuineness and love for food is what makes her stand out in my mind.
What is your favorite news outlet?
I’d have to call a tie between the New York Times, NPR and Girlboss (and if you haven’t checked out Girlboss, make sure you do – it’s an amazing community for sharp, ambitious women).
Fill in the blank:
- If I am not working, I am…wrangling two young kids: Reese (age 7) and Jack (age 4).
- If I could interview anyone, it would be…Bill Murray.
- My favorite thing about Seattle is…that you can say ‘hello’ to strangers walking down the street and most of the time, they’ll say ‘hello’ back.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I sincerely love the show “Grey’s Anatomy” – all 17 seasons of it (and still going strong!)
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