It’s 2020, and reading the news isn’t synonymous with picking up the paper anymore. Your customers get their news through social media, blogs, coworkers, the radio, and endless other sources.
Despite all of the (ironic) bad press about the media and fake news, news stories are still highly trusted, much more than self-promotion or marketing materials from a business.
Make Some Noise─And Some News
Getting PR coverage isn’t the same as buying advertisements. The news is about stories. Before you write a press release or start contacting anyone, you need a story. But how do you get one?
Enter local, national, and international competitions, both silly and serious. Or host your own.
Diana Cline, the owner of Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg, MB, has entered several high profile competitions. "I knew that if I won, I could use the award and positioning in my marketing,” she told us. Those competitions have paid off—Diana has won several awards and sponsorships over the years, and has been featured in local and national media, including Reader’s Digest, Chatelain, and newspapers across Canada.
Do some good
Work with local charities to do fundraisers or host special events. There are lots of local initiatives in your community, so set about finding one that fits with your company’s mission and values.
Back in 2008, Ian’s Pizza in Madison, WI partnered with their local fire department for surprise fire alarm inspections in their community. “We visited homes with the fire department to check fire alarms,” the owner Lexy Fraustschy explained to us. “If the alarm worked, people would get a free pizza. We got coverage from local television stations, and the word of mouth traveled to a couple of radio stations.”
Work with other small businesses in your area to co-promote your business. Piece Brewery in Chicago, IL regularly partners with local restaurants and chefs to create and promote new menu items, at both locations. Often, these trendy menu items end up in the local news. We discussed ways you can partner with other local businesses in Restaurant Marketing: Grow Your Customer Base with Co-Promotions.
There are endless possibilities and strategies to create newsworthy events. Work with your team to brainstorm ideas, and keep up with the latest trends.
Target the Right Contacts
Target the right people with your press releases and news tips, but don’t bombard them. Take the time well in advance of possible news stories to build a relationship with them.
Remember, your customers don’t only get their news from the newspapers anymore. Form relationships with the people your customers look to for news and information. Your goal is to be top of mind for a news story, or for a Top 10 list on a local blog.
Influencers and Bloggers
Influencer marketing requires a detailed strategy, and a lot of research. But once you’ve done that and identified local and pizza-specific influencers, invite them to your events, or even simply to come in for a meal. Build a good relationship with influencers in your area, whether or not you choose to partner with and advertise through them. When you have a news story, make sure they are on your list of people to inform. You can learn more about working with influencers in this article.
Radio is far from dead. In the United States, more than 243 million adults listen to the radio every month. And morning and evening radio personalities quickly become local celebrities with lots of devout listeners. Get to know them, and send along some free samples to your local stations.
Local Journalists and Newspapers
In your city, who covers the restaurant industry? Which journalists and food critics would be most interested in hearing about your pizzeria? Remember, until you’ve caught the attention of your contacts, you won’t catch the attention of their readers.
Always be Ready to Answer Questions
Not all the news about your pizzeria will be news you created yourself. Always be prepared for questions and requests. Keep high quality photos of your restaurant, menu items, and events on hand. Ensure your staff know who to direct questions to, and what the protocol is.
In a Crisis
What happens when you receive unwanted media attention? Plan ahead, and have a strategy in place. Think about how you plan to handle social media responses, media requests, and public relations.
Get the Message Out
Don’t let your time in the limelight fade out like yesterday’s news. Share any positive coverage of your restaurant with your social media followers, in emails to your subscribers, and by displaying it proudly in your restaurant. Did you get a shining review from a newspaper’s food editor? Share links to the article on your Facebook and Twitter feeds, get artsy and share pictures of the physical paper on Instagram, get a copy of the paper and display it proudly at the cash or entrance of your restaurant.
Press and media coverage can do a lot for your restaurant that regular marketing strategies can’t, including adding authenticity and trustworthiness. Look around your restaurant and community and be creative in generating some hype around your business.
Posted on Thu, Apr 04, 2019 @ 08:04 AM.
Updated on June 9, 2020 @ 7:19 PM PST.
As the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions Inc., Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for On Point: The Restaurant Technology Blog. Have an idea for an article? Send her a message!