Since people are skeptical of ads, but believe what they read in the papers, public relations is more effective marketing than paid advertisements. A news story or magazine article generates far more credibility than an ad. Furthermore, for the cost of a newspaper ad, you could host an event or put on a publicity stunt to create more credible press that would reach a larger audience. Good mediums for exposure include the following:
- Industry and trade publications
- Business journals
- Local newspapers
- Regional magazines
- Internet blogs and journals
- Local radio stations
- Local television stations
Remember that press can be good or bad. If your product is not consistently of good quality, press will only hurt you. Before you begin any public relations campaign, you should make sure your food and drinks are a good value and your restaurant management and operations are in order. » Learn More
Making Your Restaurant Newsworthy
The best time for a small business to make the news is during the restaurant’s grand opening. After that, according to Sauce Communications co-founder, Jo Barnes, “Apart from changing the menu and the chef there is not going to be a vast amount of stuff that will be newsworthy.”1 However, if you are creative, you can continue to create newsworthy stories long after the glamour of your grand opening has faded. Here are some ways to get in the news once the original launch has passed:
By hosting an event, you will probably get a mention in the “events” section of the newspaper, at the very least. Good ideas for events include fundraisers, concerts, tastings, competitions (like bake-offs), community or school events, parties and classes. » Learn More
Donate to charity.
Give a portion of your sales to a local charity or host a fundraiser. It is important that the community see your restaurant as a positive presence. You should work with the nearby community and consider donating something to local schools, campaigns and charitable events. Even if the donation does not get you any press, the community will notice, and some of them will thank you for it by coming to your restaurant.
Make creative changes.
Anything you can do to make yourself unique is potentially newsworthy. For example, you could get a lot of press by switching to eco-friendly restaurant operations and marketing a green restaurant, or by introducing a radical new dish, like jalapeño ice cream, to your menu. Other changes to consider include adopting a unique style of presentation, redesigning the dining room with a crazy new theme or hiring a notable new chef.
Put on a publicity stunt.
Some of the most famous publicity stunts have created a lot of national press. For example, Taco Bell offered everyone in America a free taco if the falling Mir space station hit their floating target. While you probably cannot pull a stunt of this magnitude, you can use guerrilla marketing techniques to get some press and incite local interest. » Learn More
Offer to write a story or give a recipe to a local paper or magazine. Focus on getting in the “food” section. Create press releases or stories about your restaurant. For example, a Spanish restaurant and wine bar could promote itself through a story about the Spanish tradition of tapas. Perhaps your chef has an interesting background, or maybe your atmosphere offers a one-of-a-kind experience. There is bound to be something unique about your restaurant, and getting your story out there is one of the best ways to propagate a marketing buzz that will attract both old and new customers.
Impress a food critic.
You should make a point to learn about the nation’s most famous food critics as well as any local or regional food critics. Give them a good reason to come to your restaurant by offering a unique or especially perfect dish. If they do come to you, give them special treatment, but do not overdo it. Make sure that you serve them a quality meal. A bad review from a food critic will definitely hurt your business. » Learn More
Getting press is probably the most effective way to market your restaurant. Do not make the mistake of spending all of your money on paid restaurant advertising, when a good PR campaign will bring a much bigger return on your investment.