Restaurant and food service is a fiercely competitive industry, so getting noticed can make the difference between success and failure. Your restaurant has a story to tell, but without a solid, strategic PR strategy and the right ingredients for tasty content, it’s unlikely to be heard. Public relations helps brands connect with their desired audience, increase awareness and elevate expertise and credibility.
Great PR is less expensive and often far more effective than traditional media advertising, but the first hurdle is being able to effectively engage with the media. Without them, your story has little chance of reaching a broader audience. From food bloggers and influencers to reporters, writers and media professionals, here are some simple tips on how to make the media fall in love with you and your restaurant. Follow them, and you can become a trusted go-to source for all things food-related.
Help Media Professionals Do Their Job: Media folks are always looking for new stories. Keep them up to date on trends in the industry or in your community and you’ll quickly become a preferred expert source. Make your direct pitches personal, easy to understand (think headlines and bullet points). Be sure it’s easy for them to get in touch with your designated spokesperson, and to get more information from your sources.
Know the Preferred Method of Communication: Is it best to try to reach them through email, text messages, or phone calls? Cater to their preferences, and be sure to follow and regularly engage with them through their social media accounts.
Target the Right People and Tailor Your Content: This is where a good PR company provides amazing value. PR professionals know which journalists cover specific topics. They have existing relationships with local, regional and sometimes national media, so it’s often much easier for them to get media placements.
Are they Bloggers, Social Media Influencers, Broadcast or Print Journalists?: Tailoring your content goes well beyond simply pitching the right angle to the right person. Depending on the platform of the media person, you need the appropriate assets to accompany your pitch. Sending a video to a magazine makes little sense.
Exclusivity Matters: Pick one key outlet to offer an exclusive "get" for your news or event. Allow at least a week’s notice so they can plan.
Look for Local Angles: If you’re catering an important event or bringing a hot new food or drink trend to town, let local reporters know.
Make your Visual Content Deliciously Enticing: Inspire drools. Have great photos and video assets for use by the media – preferably in a media kit. Include background bios of key people, fact sheet, menu samples, service descriptions, links to past coverage, marketing collateral, etc. Supply hi-res pics of people, dishes, and specialty drinks in both CMYK (print) and RGB (web) formats, and provide hi-res logo files in jpeg or png formats.
Create Valuable Content that Puts the Customer’s Interests First: This means content that speaks to the media professional’s audience members. You want to engage and enchant them, so they’ll book or visit your establishment. Tell them what you do for them, how you serve them, about locally sourced ingredients, etc. You can even create an exclusive offer just for the particular journalist or channel.
Have a Solid Crisis Management Plan and Process in Place: Eventually, every restaurant will have some form of crisis. From viral comments and criticism to food contamination resulting in a food poisoning outbreak, a quick, well-planned and appropriate response can make a real difference in public response and perception. Create this plan before you need it, and engage with reporters you know and trust. Not sure how to do it? Contact a good PR company.
Go for a Nontraditional Approach: Host a dinner for local media professionals to debut a new tasting menu or for a pre-grand opening event. Offer your location to local PR groups and associations for meetups or meetings at a discount.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help, especially in the area of crisis management. Engaging a professional PR company can quickly pay for itself and then some.