Promoting your restaurant in local media, blogs, or industry publications isn’t an easy task.
You’ve got a lot of obstacles in your way on the path to the spotlight: competitors, stories that are similar to yours and have been told before, other stories that grab attention, and the constant stream of content from news and social media.
How do you break through?
Five professionals answered that question at the recent FAB conference for women in the hospitality industry in Charleston, S.C. at a panel called “PR Do’s, Don’ts, Must Knows & Never Forgets.” The panelists included Jocelyn Delk Adams, Founder of Grandbaby Cakes; Dana Cowin, Journalist and Host of the podcast Speaking Broadly; Hayley Feldman, Co-Owner of Chez Tex; Sarah Rosenberg, Founder/CEO of Wicked Good Media; and Meredith Vachon, Co-Founder of Bread & Butter Public Relations.
Here are the five top tips from their session:
1. Do be aware of what PR people are looking for in a story
Rosenberg said that the things that make you and your restaurant stand out may not be obvious right away. PR professionals want to pitch stories that stand out, that are unique, and that haven’t been told before. It might take some time and conversation to figure out what really makes you different.
“The art of storytelling is about really digging in deep and finding the arc of the story. You want something that’s just deeper than the surface,” she said.
2. Do be objective when pitching yourself to publications
Vachon suggested that restaurant owners or marketers put themselves or their restaurant aside when seeking press coverage. Step out of your own space and think about what others would be interested in when they’re getting to know your restaurant.
“I think you have to work extra hard to be objective about your own subject. You have to speak in the third person,” she said. “Put together all the things together that set your restaurant apart … in a third person kind of objective way. Not as the owner, but as someone looking at it,” she said.
3. Do be authentic and relatable
Delk Adams said that her Grandbaby Cakes brand — which includes the website and blog grandbaby-cakes.com, the Grandbaby Cakes cookbook, and more — got noticed because it started with something that was authentic and genuine: recipes and stories of baking and being in the kitchen with her grandmother. Being relatable has been the best way to grow her brand.
“It’s something that was really relatable with some of my followers … People loved the heart of that,” she said. “I wanted to find the people who said oh my gosh i remember this. I was in the kitchen with my grandmother. I relate to this so much.”
4. Don’t be afraid to cold call
Feldman’s restaurant, Chez Tex, is a 36 seat Cali-French cuisine restaurant located in a former Los Angeles art gallery. It’s not your typical venue. “I wanted people to feel like they were coming into our house,” Feldman said.
When Feldman started to promote her restaurant, she got the most success with publicity by targeting influencers who were most likely to be interested in Chez Tex’s eclectic mix with cold-calls and emails.
“I made a list of influencers and invited them … I looked for people I wanted to interact with, that resonated with me,” she said. “You have to be hungry and constantly looking for inspiration.”
5. Do act as your own public relations agency
Whether or not you’re able to connect with public relations professionals, publications, and influencers, you should be taking advantage of digital marketing tools, said Cowin. Social media, blogs, video platforms, and websites allow everyone with a digital presence to be their own content creator and distributor.
“You don’t have to have a PR person. That’s the wonderful thing. You can create your own content,” she said.
But before you publish your first blog post or click the video recording button, you need to decide what you want your voice and message to be, as well as what you hope to accomplish.
“It’s important to know the mission of your restaurant and your goal,” Cowin said. Without them, “it’s hard to be sure to know what’s landing.”
Public relations and marketing tips and tools change every day – read Tripleseat’s blog posts on marketing for the latest information on how you can promote your restaurant or venue. And check out articles, infographics, and more on our Marketing Tips for Event Professionals and Social Media Marketing for Event Professionals boards on Pinterest.