There is more to success in the competitive restaurant business than just great food and service. Cultivating a positive brand image, building customer affinity and differentiating from the competition are essential components of any forward-thinking business strategy. That’s where public relations comes in. PR is all about boosting brand awareness, building positive consumer relationships and maintaining/enhancing your restaurant’s reputation. As such, PR is a powerful tool that can drive commercial success in tandem with your marketing strategy while also helping you navigate through the post-pandemic – new normal – for restaurants.
Here are five essential tips for restaurants looking to level up with PR:
1. Create an Identity and Broadcast It
A key way to stand out in the crowded restaurant scene is to build a unique identity for your business. From a catchy name to a one-of-a-kind menu or an Instagram-worthy interior design to a dedication to sustainability and more – all these ways and more can help your restaurant stand apart from competitors and attract clientele.
PR can boost awareness of these differentiators and create a positive image for your restaurant that will cut through the noise of the competition and reach new audiences. This can be achieved through a variety of tactics, such as media coverage, influencer partnerships and social media campaigns.
2. Engage and Build a Following
Retaining your existing customer base is just as important as bringing in new clientele. This delicate balance can be achieved by building relationships with customers. Responding to customer feedback on social media, offering personalized experiences and creating original events are all PR strategies for building an engaged customer base. By investing in strong relationships with your customers, you’ll create loyal brand advocates who will proactively promote your restaurant to others in their social circles.
3. Proactively Share Big News
You’re opening another location. You’ve recently hired an industry-respected individual to a top position. You’ve launched a special initiative to help those in your community that are in need. This is all huge news – but it won’t have the impact unless you proactively share your restaurant’s milestones with the right people.
PR helps create buzz for your restaurant through media outreach,creating news and partnerships with influencers. By increasing your restaurant’s visibility, you’ll boost your reputation, attract new customers and keep existing ones engaged by keeping your brand top of mind.
4. Become a Resource
Chances are, your clientele is consuming news of some sort – thus pursuing earned media opportunities can be as effective in reaching your customer base as paying for an advertising placement. Through media relations, PR can cultivate relationships with media members for your restaurant. By becoming a resource for media to interview for stories and or tap into for expertise, you can enhance the professional reputation of your C-Suite and boost the trustworthiness of your restaurant. Media training from PR pros will prepare you to conquer any interview.
5. Prepare for a Rainy Day
No matter how well-run your restaurant is, things can go wrong. Whether it’s a food safety issue, a disgruntled employee or a negative review, PR can help you manage these crises and protect your reputation. Proactively implementing a crisis communication plan and training your team to handle these situations is necessary and can help minimize the negative impacts.
Leveraging these five tips and investing in PR is key to the long-term success of your restaurant, as it helps to create a positive image and build relationships with customers, media, and the community.