An effective restaurant PR strategy can be a lot of help in raising awareness of your business in a way that connects with your customers. It takes in aspects of social media, outreach, and building your restaurant’s brand.
While it can be expensive to hire a specialized team to look after your restaurant’s public relations campaign, there are also plenty of things you can do on your own. In this article, we will discuss nine public relations tips that your restaurant can implement today.
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Create an Engaging Story
Your restaurant’s story can have a massive influence on whether your PR efforts are successful. An engaging story helps people connect with your brand on a deeper level.
Creating a story for your restaurant doesn’t have to complicated. It’s simply a way to make your business seem like more than just a place that sells food. Here are three examples:
- Shake Shack isn’t just a fast-casual burger restaurant. It is a modern-day version of a roadside burger stand that originated from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park.
- TGI Fridays isn’t just a family restaurant. It’s a place where you can feel like it’s Friday, no matter what day of the week it is.
- Dishoom isn’t just an Indian restaurant. It’s a homage to Irani Cafes, places where people from all walks of life dined together.
The above stories can all be summed up in just a few sentences, but they add significant value to the respective brands.
Before you start your PR efforts, think about what makes your business different and how you can convey this in an interesting way. You can then use this idea throughout your PR and marketing strategy.
Master Social Media
Social media is perhaps the most accessible PR platform available for restaurants, as anyone can get started by creating a profile. You can then build relations with the public directly, giving you great control over your messaging.
The downside is that, if you are just starting, you’ll likely have quite a small following which can then limit the effectiveness of your PR. At this point, you have to utilize strategies to build your audience, such as reaching out to influencers or taking steps to encourage diners to post about your business on social media.
For tried and tested strategies to help build your social media following, check out our article on restaurant social media marketing.
Nurture Media Relationships
Nurturing relationships with the media is a traditional form of PR, and it is still useful — these outlets often have large audiences, and may also have more authority in the eyes of potential customers.
There are three key elements that you will need to consider when trying to get your restaurant featured in the press:
- The story: You need to have a story that is something people want to read about. A menu refresh or a special offer alone is unlikely to cut it, unless you can find a way to make it more interesting.
- The press release: A well-designed press release contains everything that those in the media need to publish your story. Include a summary of the story, relevant and high-quality images, and contact information so journalists can request more details if required.
- The publications: Send out your press release to places with an audience that is likely to be interested. Think local news, food and drinks bloggers, popular YouTube channels, and local radio or TV stations.
One of AppInstitute’s customers, The Chippy Antrim, does media outreach exceptionally well.
The restaurant has also received attention for more conventional stories such as winning best chip shop awards.
Build Customer Loyalty
Nurturing relationships with your existing customers is equally — if not even more — important than nurturing relationships with the media.
Personal recommendations are a powerful factor that people consider when deciding where to eat out, so it makes sense to encourage your existing customers to recommend your restaurant.
The most important thing you can do to build relationships is to produce a high-quality, consistent dining experience. If people have a great time at your restaurant, they will share their experience naturally.
Here are some other tactics that can help turn your customers into brand advocates.
- Go the extra mile and learn your customer’s names, or give out freebies to regulars.
- Create visually appealing dishes that encourage people to post them on social media.
- Interact with customers and thank people if they do end up posting a picture of your restaurant on social media. You could even ask their permission to share the image on your own platform.
- Create unique experiences that could be as small as bringing out a cake on birthdays, or as significant as putting on special events for regulars.
- Give customers a glimpse behind the scenes by doing something such as sharing a dish you are experimenting with and asking for their opinion.
The perfect way to build this level of customer engagement is by creating an app; something you can make in only a few hours using our platform. Check it out here.
Collaborate with Other Businesses
Building relationships with other businesses is another way to increase brand exposure — partnering with a complementary company allows you the opportunity to gain exposure to each other’s audience.
The key here is to partner with a business that has an audience you want to access. Here are some examples:
- This brewery partnered with a local Ice Hockey team to create a new beer.
- These two restaurants teamed up to offer dishes from each other’s menu at both locations.
You should also note that these stories are published on popular websites. This suggests that collaborations are an excellent way to get press attention, as per tip number three in this list.
Attending local events is a great way to get out and meet the public. It could help build your relationship with your existing customer base, introduce your business to new people, or both.
There are many ways you can attend events. One way is by offering to serve food, which will expose your menu to many of the people who attend. This may even be profitable if you make sales at the event
Alternatively, you could sponsor an event. This way, everyone who attends will see your brand. You could sponsor the entire function, a specific part of it (like a tent or a competition), or do something smaller scale such as donating a prize to a raffle.
The key to using events for PR is choosing ones that share an audience with the people you want to come to your restaurant — a family restaurant could sponsor a school fair, or a gastropub could attend a beer festival.
Be sure to take full advantage of your attendance by creating social media posts, or by sending out a press release where appropriate.
Also, consider how you will turn your event attendance into more customers.
Restaurants can do this by offering discounts to anyone who can prove they were at the event, handing out coupons, or by giving out freebies to people who post about it on social media.
Become Involved in the Community
Getting involved in the community helps increase brand exposure, while also associating your brand with the cause or organization you partner with.
This can have a positive impact on your business, as a survey by Nielsen found that customers are more likely to spend money on products from brands committed to having a positive social and environmental impact.
Some ways you can become involved in the community include:
- Sponsoring youth sports teams.
- Donating to or otherwise helping charitable causes.
- Campaigning for or supporting local issues.
- Opening your restaurant to community groups that need space for meetings.
- Creating programs for kids. For example, you could run a summer vacation cooking class during the day when your business isn’t in use.
Be sure to share anything you do on social media and via press releases where appropriate.
Build Your Authority
Becoming an authority on a topic can add value to your brand in the eyes of consumers. As an extreme example, look at how celebrity chefs build successful restaurants based on their personal brands.
Even if you don’t dream of becoming nationally famous, there are plenty of things you can do on a smaller level to help.
Here are some of them:
- Blog regularly about your restaurant and food. The aim is to show you are an expert in your field.
- If you’d rather not blog, then consider creating YouTube videos. Sharing recipes or cooking tips could be an excellent place to start.
- Give talks and presentations. As a chef and a business owner, you have a lot of experience that people may want to learn from.
- Contribute to news stories. Journalists often need expert input to increase the credibility of their articles. Make it known that you are willing to contribute to any stories about restaurants, food, or local business. If you haven’t built connections yet, use a service like Help a Reporter Out to be notified of potential contribution opportunities.
These activities may not instantly result in customers. But, assuming you do them well, they will increase your authority and reputation within the industry and thus your customer base.
Guest Post on Blogs and Publications
Guest posting is writing an article for websites other than your own. It is a great way to build your authority as per the section above, but it also has other benefits.
First, guest posting puts your restaurant in front of a different audience. If you only post articles on your own website, only the people who are visiting it will see the articles. On the other hand, when you post on other sites, you’ll be exposed to a whole new audience. If they like what you have to say, they may even begin to follow your blog.
The article below is an excellent example of how a business owner can use their experience to get their name in front of a huge audience.
Guest posting is also a great way to increase the ranking of your website on Google. When you guest post, you will often include a link back to your website within the article. Backlinks increase the authority of your website in the eyes of Google, which can help you show up higher on search engine rankings. Ultimately, this can result in more customers.
Guest posting is just one part of your overall search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. If you’d like to learn more, you can check out this complete guide to SEO for restaurants here.
A good PR strategy will help you build publicity around your restaurant by spreading the word online, offline, and in traditional media outlets. This increase in exposure can result in more customers, which will ultimately drive your business to success.
To read more advice on promoting your restaurant, read our article Restaurant Marketing Ideas: Top 31 Ideas to Grow in 2020.