6 PR Strategies You Can Implement Now for Your Restaurant

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Carrot cake.
Pressing the right buttons

Every restaurant brand has a story to tell but without a strong public relations strategy, that story may never reach your audience. PR helps the brand authentically connect with your audience, increase your visibility and elevate your credibility, keeping your brand out of the advertising abyss.

If you haven’t given any serious thought to your PR efforts, or you aren’t seeing any positive results from your current efforts, here are six PR strategies your restaurant can implement right now.

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Man holding five star rating.
Understand the evolution of Influencer Marketing

In the age of social media, influencer marketing can be your PR secret weaponespecially for a restaurant. This tactic allows you to reach a large yet targeted audience through an authentic personality that your consumers already trust. By partnering with an influencer, you can engage users with creative content through various social media platforms. It’s worth spending the time to identify the right influencer—one whose demographic and style align with those of your brand—and build a relationship with them. Keep in mind that there is some crossover between PR and advertising with influencer marketing, as many influencers require compensation or at the very least, compensated meals.

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Marketers strategize with charts and computers.
Create a reliable crisis management plan and process

Every restaurant, from massive chains to mom-and-pop shops, will encounter some kind of crisis sooner or later. A crisis can be something as seemingly small as a negative social media comment that goes viral, or as major as a food poisoning outbreak. What’s important is how you react, how you respond and how you get the world to move on as quickly as possible. Preparing a strategy before the crisis hits is vital. When disaster strikes, no matter what shape or form, you need to have a proven process in place that will keep you focused and help you bounce back quicker. Importantly, make sure your crisis strategy includes step-by-step actions for how social media is handled. Many times, brands keep posting pre-planned content through a crisis, which sets off consumers even more. Remember to unschedule all content when a crisis hits, and make sure you have one designated team to handle all social media through the crisis.

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Two workers prepare a marketing strategy.
Create valuable content, not ads
PR is not advertising in the traditional sense. Your PR strategy should focus on creating content that brings value to your audience, instead of shoving your product or service in the face of your customer. Create inspiring content that converts your target audience into loyal followers and regulars to your restaurant(s). Invest in a strong creative team to create the articles, stories and videos that your audience wants and needs. Many times in the restaurant space, this can be things like at-home recipes to try, food and wine (or beer) pairing tips, chef Q&As or profiles, and more. Then, deliver that content through the right channels and publications that your audience regularly consume. This strategy will naturally help with your search engine optimization efforts, too.
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Man holding up large piece of paper.
Repurpose PR wins and engage with your audience
The real power of PR is rarely in the moment as a story runs. It’s really in how well you repurpose and reshare that piece of third-party content with your target audience. This could be through your blog, social media, email marketing, and more. Learning how to expertly disseminate your content through several channels will increase your views and reach a broader audience, all with a single story. You can also continue to revisit your favorite PR wins as often as you’d like by reposting them. If you are a part of restaurant chain or franchise, don’t be afraid to re-share positive news stories from your brand in other markets or locations. This is still relevant news to your customer and will help achieve more interaction and engagement on your social media outlets.
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Press interview.
Give traditional press exclusivity
Opening a new location, launching a new menu item, or expanding your current location? No matter the news, if you know one key outlet that absolutely MUST cover a story for you, go to them first and offer them the exclusive. In doing this, you commit to not sending the idea to anyone else until that outlet either publishes the story, says "no" or doesn't respond within the period of time you've given them. Be sure to give the publication plenty of advance notice to cover a breaking story, and be clear on your timeline up front. For example, if you want the story to break with a weekly business publication, don't expect to send them the story the day before you want it to run. Give them a week or so notice—embargo the content if needed—so that they can plan the appropriate time and space for your story. Once the story runs, you are free to pitch to all of your other target media or distribute on the newswire.
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Leverage video content through social platforms

With proposed changes to Facebook’s timeline algorithm currently underway, video content reigns supreme on social media, but you don’t have to invest in costly, high-production videos in order to make a splash. Take advantage of organic, live video tools on Facebook and Instagram. Live videos allow you to engage directly with your audience increasing your transparency and authenticity. This is an excellent tool for chefs or restaurateurs to connect with their customers on a personal level. Share what your cooking that day in the kitchen, or take fans on a trip with you to the local farm or fish market. This will build an amazingly loyal fan base that you can’t replicate through other mediums.

In the end, remember that PR takes time, patience, and persistence. It’s a heart-wrenching, stressful process that is not for the weak but if you are smart, have a plan, and pursue it tirelessly, you will succeed.

Melissa DiGianfilippo is the co-owner and president of public relations at Serendipit Consulting, where she leads the firm’s clients’ public relations and communications efforts including traditional media relations, crisis communications, internal communications, community outreach and more. Serendipit Consulting is a full-service creative agency that takes a boutique approach that generate big agency results to marketing, public relations, branding and event.


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