Public Relations or PR is an integral part of restaurant marketing that must never be ignored. PR for restaurants is essential since it helps create awareness about your restaurant on a mass scale, and also builds goodwill among the people. A lot of restaurant and food outlets use public relations as a tool to create the right buzz among media publications, which in turn write a piece or an article about the restaurant’s uniqueness, concept and food. This restaurant publicity further adds to their popularity, creates their presence and adds to their profits. But, hiring a PR agency can be an expensive affair if you are already working on a tight budget. The most frequently asked question by most restaurateurs in this scenario is “How to do PR for restaurants?” Restaurant PR is not just about publicizing the food but the restaurant itself through different elements and factors. These can range from food served, a speciality item, some event even restaurant interior design. You can take Nihonbashi’s 15-year-old celebration as an example. To make sure that the celebration and the restaurant get the PR they deserve and that Sri Lanka is publicized along with it, the founder and owner of Nihonbashi, Dharshan Munidasa created world’s most expensive Sashimi dish by using ‘rubies of the ocean’ tuna and ‘rubies of the mountains’. The dish which was priced at 5 million rupees gained the traction of international press and worked wonders for not just the restaurant PR but for publicity of Sri Lanka as well.
How To Do PR For Restaurants
In order to publicize your restaurant for little or no cost at all, you need to first understand how PR for restaurants works and what all media outlets you can use. Then comes understanding how to get these third party outlets to talk about your restaurant. Thus in order to answer the question of how to do PR for restaurants, we divide the article into two parts:-
- Understanding the media options available
- Understanding how to use the available media options for successful restaurant PR
Understanding The Media Options Available For Restaurant Publicity
Restaurant PR or restaurant publicity unlike word-of-mouth marketing is dependent upon media outlets and not upon the customer. Even if you have impeccable service, great staff and delicious food, you cannot guarantee that it will be able to get your restaurant the publicity it needs. Thus restaurant publicity is dependent upon media. Different media options to publicize your restaurant are:-
- Paid Media
- Self-Owned Media
- Earned Media
In this segment, we discuss the different media options available.
1. Paid Media
The medium or a platform that allows you to advertise your restaurant stating your USP is called Paid Media. For example, Advertisements, Paid SEM/SEO, paid influences; paid content in different influential news dailies and magazines is called the paid media.
2. Owned Media
Owned media is the platforms and channels owned by the restaurant. These include the restaurant’s website, social media handles such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, and the restaurant blog. You can create a lot of engagement and awareness among your target audience by working on these channels. Read how to do Social Media Marketing for your restaurant here.
3. Earned Media
This type of media is particularly related to the articles, blog post, Instagram photos, an online review or word of mouth. Basically, if a third party is talking about your restaurant, then it is known as earned media.
How To Use Media And Other Third Party Options For Your Restaurant Publicity
PR for restaurants or PR for any business essentially requires the media as well as the public to talk about a particular brand. You can get your restaurant covered in the media by following these tactics.
1. Keep a Tap on the Influencers
Follow the big influencers who can help you to attract the right audience to your restaurant. Some of them might charge a fee for the post, while there may be some who do not charge at all. But largely, those who have a high number of followers charge a good fare. But here, we advise you to follow the ones who have comparatively less number of followers but not less than 10,000, with a niche audience. They can be reached through Facebook, or through a direct invitation message for a sponsored lunch or a dinner. This will give you good visibility with respect to the ones who have a large number of followers with the mass audience which might not be relevant to your business. Ideally, one should be careful about the selection of influencers with proper research and understanding. Target food bloggers and influencers, who have a niche following.
2. Pitch Yourself
When on a tight budget, hiring a PR agency would be a costly affair or even hiring a freelancer can cost you somewhere around Rs 15k-20k. Therefore, we advise you to create your own list of journalists and media influencers that you want to engage with and pitch the idea of covering your restaurant directly to them. However, the story ideas and ‘PR pitches’ usually see the archive folder unless there is a pre-existing relationship or the idea is too strong which hits the journalist’s mind.
The key here is to pitch the right idea to the right person. It will be better if you meet them personally and initiate a healthy business relationship by inviting them over to a family dinner where they can get to know you and your restaurant.
3. “You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours” Strategy
In this, you need to find the right business which is not your competitor but caters to your target audience. For example, if you are new takeaway joint in the newly developed market where there are different types of stores like bakeries, grocery shops, etc, you can partner with the bakery shop and offer a complimentary dessert and in return, the bakery can distribute discount coupons on your behalf. You can also tie up together, and run combo offers. This will help in leveraging each others’ assets, which can help in expanding the customer base.
Public relations is nothing but relationship building exercise and you should try these tips to maintain a bond with the media to get your restaurant featured.