We had the good fortune of connecting with Niyaz Pirani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Niyaz, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor behind the success of Knife & Spork Public Relations, my restaurant social media and PR firm, is my desire to learn new skills and strategies continuously and tirelessly. I started my career in 2005 as a news assistant in the Home & Garden Department at the Orange County Register; later I would become a reporter and features writer there. I worked there for 5 years; 5 years doing political advocacy for working families; and now I’ve run my own business for over 5 years, which I never thought would be something that would happen, ever. Now, I’m a targeted social media marketing expert, online community builder, photographer, videographer, networker and much more. This came from working more late nights and early mornings than I ever did in college scouring Google, watching YouTube and Instagram, listening to podcasts, experimenting, sometimes failing, but always making sure to fail upward until I created the successful results I was looking for. I pride myself that I’ve worked with many of my clients now for years because they see the value in me. As an independent business person whose job is to sell myself and then produce those results within the context of the ever-changing social media landscape, that means the world to me.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Knife & Spork Public Relations is a targeted content marketing and media relations firm that focuses on building audiences with engaging and informative posts on social media. I also work with local media to connect my restaurants to magazines, newspapers, television and radio. It was not easy to get to this point, 1) because you have to build up your network over time and 2) moreso because social media is always changing so rapidly and it’s an insane job to keep up with trends for so many accounts at one time. But I love it. I overcame those challenges by just working day to day and focusing on being a little better than I was the day before. That doesn’t always stick, we all have our bad days, but that mindset helped me get to a place where I work with some of the best chefs in Orange County, in restaurants where I never dreamed that my visual and written interpretation of their cuisines and art would be used to create their public portfolios.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There’s so much to do in Orange County depending on the type of mood you’re in. For me, I like nature, music and great restaurants so I’d definitely take a trip to the beach and have some outdoor picnics at the parks local to my house. There are some nice walking trails in South Orange County that are fun to explore. No trip to Orange County for a music fan should be complete without a stop at the best record store in the area, Port of Sound Records. Their stock focuses on new releases mostly with older titles thrown in. Most of my friends also are into music, so it wouldn’t be a hard sell. To eat, there are so many options; I’d take them for a mix of my client restaurants and other local favorites. I’m really into the brunch at Lido Bottle Works in Newport Beach. Chef Amy Lebrun makes a softball-sized buttermilk biscuit served with good butter and house made preserves that I’m obsessed with. Everything she makes is like edible art (the burrata is a great example), plus it’s on the harbor, so, vibes. I also love the waygu burger and butter cake at Craft House in Dana Point. It’s juicy delicious and the toppings change often. Also, their outdoor patio feels like Austin, Texas. Falasophy at Irvine Spectrum makes the most flavorful chicken shawarma pitas … try it with with fries and extra garlic sauce in it; breakfast burritos at S’wich Bistro in Irvine; Philly’s Best for hoagies and cheesesteaks; BBQ at Meat Up in Placentia and Heritage in San Juan Capistrano; dessert at Cream Pan in Tustin; TK Burger; Sol Agave in South O.C. for shrimp taquitos; Thai at Thai Nakorn in Stanton; Bottle Logic and Brewery X in Anaheim for beers (plus Pizza X inside of it). Finally, if they love sushi and we plan it right, I’d also try and score reservations at OMakase by Gino in Santa Ana, but last month’s were gone entirely in 3 minutes, so it’s not easy!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person is my wife Nadia. Without her love and support I wouldn’t have been able to start Knife & Spork Public Relations or get to where I’m at today. She believed in the idea (it was actually her idea), and she transferred her job and moved to Northern California with me to so I could start this business up there before we eventually returned to Orange County where I continued building here. She’s had to sacrifice her time with me so I could build the skills and client list, and helps me tremendously in my life, overall. Shout out to my Dad too, because he always told me to put my energy into building something of my own my entire life.
Photos by Niyaz Pirani // Knife & Spork Public Relations