The PR guide to successfully promote your restaurant

Are you a looking to successfully promote your restaurant using PR. While you could hire an agency to do all the task, sometimes you might not be able to hire one due to budget constraints. However this guide should help you to successfully manage most of the stakeholders and create a win for your restaurant. This guide is mostly written for the Marketing manager, but if are not in PR and you want to help your colleague, share this with them. There are 6 major steps to achieve PR success and promote your restaurant.

Step 1: Achieve a common understanding internally

 Understand and agree the reasons for F+B promotions,

  • Give creative input to ensure that they achieve PR objectives for the hotel
  • If the hotel is doing mango promotions, how are they different from last year, how are they different from what the hotel next door is doing?
  • Think creativity and innovation
  • Discuss trends – what are media writing about, what is happening in other parts of the country? Can those things work in your hotel or restaurant?
  • If you are doing a seafood promotion, tell the story – where is the seafood sourced from, what is special, interesting, unique about it?
  • Why should people try it?
  • What will stand out about your promotions and make a journalist write about what your hotel is doing?

Media hosting

  • Ensure that your GM is involved in media entertainment
  • A GM should know the top 10 media just like they knows the top 10 sales accounts
  • A hello from the GM at a media breakfast or lunch goes a long way
  • Showcase your best product – don’t talk to a journalist about your signature restaurant and then take them to the lobby lounge to eat

 Understand what’s newsworthy

 What will stand out and catch a journalist’s attention when you are trying to promote your restaurant ?

  • Firsts for the city or the country
  • Winning significant awards – then making sure that they are communicated
  • Big names involved – designers, chefs, brands
  • Celebrities or personalities
  • Food promotions that tie in to landmark events or global trends
  • Creative packages
  • Signature dishes that offer a strong sense of place, perhaps reinvented in a unique way
  • Dishes that feature rare, unique, unusual ingredients
  • Menus that creatively link to special events like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, White Truffle Season, Summer, Mid-Autumn Festival, Christmas etc.

 And always be sure to understand the lead time of publications….

Step 2: Make sure your press kit reflects your F+B strengths

Your hotel press kit should have a strong focus on the F&B outlets and should contain:

  • An overview of each of the F&B outlets
  • Bio of the Exec Chef and head chefs in each restaurant
  • Details of signature dishes and what makes them unique
  • Details of signature cocktails and what makes them unique
  • Unique offerings – e.g. 50 types of gin, organic
  • Recent promotions
  • Special design features
  • An image gallery comprising both interior design + food shots, clearly labelled (invest in quality photography)

Step 3: Identify target media and editorial opportunities

  • Ensure you know at least the top 20 F+B + Lifestyle media in your market
  • Likewise for the top 10 key food bloggers, food critics or food opinion leaders
  • Monitor editorial calendars and special features schedules such as festival supplements – find out who is writing them, what the lead time is, and give them good relevant information and good visuals from your outlet(s)
  • Don’t forget the regular listings sections of newspapers, magazines etc. Send the editors good concise listings information to make sure you are included in correct and relevant listings
  • Keep a list of relevant awards that you may be eligible for and submit details for consideration – think about awards you want to win and target the publications/journalists to make sure you are front of mind when they make their selections

Know which media are relevant to you, and who they are.

 To promote your restaurant you could include – but not limited to:

  • Consumer publications – print and electronic
  • Food & Beverage Publications
  • Local/regional/national newspapers
  • Lifestyle publications
  • Expatriate publications
  • In-flight magazines/professional associations etc
  • Wire services, foreign correspondents/writers
  • Freelance travel and F&B writers
  • Guidebooks – both local and relevant international (often written by a local contributor – find out who and keep them updated)
  • Bloggers/Social Media/Dining Websites etc.

 Step 4: Conduct on-going media relations outreach and activities

  • It is critically important that we engage media not just with our restaurants, bars and product, but also our people. When you host media, let your GM/Exec chef/F+B Director know so that they can come and say hello. They don’t need to sit with you throughout a breakfast, lunch, afternoon, tea or dinner, but if they can come and spend 5 minutes with your key media when you have them in-house, it will make a huge impact on the journalist
  • Ensure that relevant top tier local/regional media visit your restaurants and bars for tasting, photo shooting, chef interviews, new menu previews, new/improved product offering etc
  • Have a plan in place to entertain all your identified top tier influencers visit at least twice a year, ideally every 3 months
  • Create unique F&B story angles and experiences for your hotel – really wow media and showcase the hotel’s skill, creativity and people
  • Arrange market visits with Exec chefs, cooking classes,
  • If possible arrange for regular annual media gatherings to be hosted by the GM. This could be a Christmas or Diwali media party which showcases the creativity of the F&B offering and which is a high quality and extremely memorable event

 Step 5: Ideas for Creative Promotions and Events

  • Where possible, come up with ideas for promotions that tie in to national/international events, for example a special cocktail or menu themed around a major sporting event, such as the Olympics or the World Cup, or with national celebrations, Chinese New Year themes, Diwali, Songkran etc.
  • Work with the F&B team to conceptualize special dining experiences – In the Kitchen/ or a Private dining room/ Club lounge/ Gardens/ Pool area instead of only in F&B outlets to showcase your property’s creativity
  • Organize annual media event to showcase F+B creativity – this can be a Christmas or seasonal event, a summer party or anything suitable in your market. It should really focus on your F+B teams creativity and showcase not just your product and creativity but, again, different areas of the hotel – host media in the kitchens or Presidential suite, a marquee on the lawn, or by your pool – or any unusual element that is suitable and appropriate for your hotel
  • Partner with media or wedding companies to host major celebrity wedding. In India there is huge coverage around and awareness of celebrity weddings. That can help you promote your restaurant as well.
  • If special events are being held at the hotel, explore what opportunities there are for pre- and post-event coverage

 Step 6: KPI Measurement

What does success look like?

  • Within the year you will have entertained all of the top 20 food writers and food bloggers in your market
  • You will have helped the F&B team devise at least one inventive F&B promotion, signature dish, special occasion etc. that has generated some significant media exposure
  • Your culinary stars (whether chef, sommelier, pastry chef etc.) will have been profiled in your key target press
  • Ideally, your hotel will have won some kind of recognition, such as a reader’s choice award, for one of your restaurants or dishes
  • You will have achieved a measurable increase in press clips for your hotel’s F&B offering throughout the year
  • You will have quality clippings on your F+B offering in your key target media

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