After two years of hustling, pivoting and networking, Bolster Media founders Nicole Albano and Crystal Wang say they rebuilt their hospitality PR firm from the ashes of the pandemic into something better than it was before. For example, the agency expanded their client roster from chefs and restaurants to include CPG products, cookbooks, AgTech, food delivery platforms and more. Today, the team serves this extended client roster with the new skill sets they developed over the past couple of years, including affiliate marketing support, influencer programs and the many opportunities TikTok has to offer for their culinary and lifestyle clients. Their original practice areas are thriving, too; five of their chef clients were nominated for James Beard Awards in 2022, and they worked on PR for four client cookbooks over the past year (two of which received so much acclaim that the chef-authors each secured a second book contract with their publishers). Beyond the work they do for clients, Bolster Media spearheaded an intimate national network for freelancers and small PR shops, specifically within the hospitality and F&B spaces. The “PR Helpline” is about 100 members strong, and offers a place for pros to discuss trends in the industry and share story leads, articles of interest, contacts for specific writers and more on a daily basis.
Nicole Albano, Partner
Crystal Wang, Partner
Notable long-term clients:
Chef Dale Talde, Chef Sheldon Simeon, Pitmaster Myron Mixon, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Chef Grayson Schmitz, Chef Julian Medina, Half Eaten Hospitality Group, Chef Kenny Gilbert
New client wins:
Bowery Farming, Toptable Group
How is the agency advancing DEI in the industry?
“From the moment of inception back in 2014, Bolster Media has been one of the few F&B PR firms that has been championing chefs of color. One of the very first accounts we scored was the Minority Chef Summit - a culinary festival devoted to celebrating chefs of color and an event we tried to help get off the ground. Before the BLM movement, chefs of color were predominantly ignored (other than Marcus Samuelsson and a select few), and this was during that time. From attempting to secure sponsorships, to generating media interest in the event/talent, we were met with brick wall after brick wall. As an agency with many white chefs in the game as well, it was eye opening to see how the chefs of color were always overlooked. At that point, we made it our mission to champion chefs of color, and have always made it a point to diversify our roster. Fast forward to 2020 and those same writers came knocking on our door with the general question, ‘do you rep any chefs of color?’ Why indeed we do! (While also reminding them of their lack of interest in the past). Over the years, we’ve made it a point to immerse ourselves in the various organizations and fields of writers that have the same mission. As such, we have proven to be a powerful force when it comes to championing diversity in the kitchen and giving props where it is truly deserved, regardless of skin color. Additionally, Bolster is proudly women-owned – it has always been a priority to shine spotlights on our fellow women entrepreneurs.”