Your position can make the difference between stardom and relative obscurity. If you want to be #1, get your restaurant into the limelight by giving the media a reason to write about you:
- Pick a charitable cause and get involved. My restaurant supported and volunteered to officiate in the Special Olympics for many years. It not only helped fill a need in our community, it gave our employees something to feel really good about. What a great benefit for everyone involved!
- Educate your customers. September was National Food Safety Month. In these days of heightened security concerns, how many of your customers know that your kitchen staff is certified in food safety? How about sharing some basic techniques so your customers can ensure that their own kitchen is safe? You have access to all kinds of inside information that you can use to educate your community.
- Does your menu feature locally grown organic foods? Do your walls feature pieces by local artists? Do you employ dining or menu trends that would be of interest to readers? How about offering cooking or wine appreciation classes? These make great general interest stories, and are perfect topics for the food section or community events section of your local paper.
Use a well-written press release to get your name in the news. We've written some press release pointers and a sample press release you can use to model your own. This press release is a combination of information available on-line through the National Restaurant Association , and a press release template from Microsoft.
A letter to the editor can be effective as well. This would be especially appropriate when informing the readership about food safety, charitable events or community service. The more relevant information you provide, and the more you work within the system and deadlines of the newspaper or television station, the more likely you are to get free press. In fact, don't be surprised if sections of a good press release are printed verbatim! Don't you like it when somebody makes your job easier? Newspaper reporters and editors are no different.
Finally, utilize the publicity when you finally get it. Ask for reprints or permission to reprint the piece. Send copies to customers, frame one and put it on the wall of your restaurant. Add it to your media kit. Then, start over again. Your goal should be to do something newsworthy at least twice a year in order to keep your name and your brand top-of-mind.