How do I get my restaurant to be reviewed by a magazine, newspaper or website?
– Liliana Ramos, Owner, Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant, Brooklyn, NY
Some restaurateurs sit by the door waiting for a reviewer to “discover” them. It doesn’t usually work. To get your restaurant on the media map you need to be proactive in letting the reviewers know you exist and are proud of what you offer.
Start with a simple press release and send it to print and online food writers, editors and bloggers. You may want to hire a PR consultant to write and distribute it for you. It can be a worthwhile investment. If your restaurant is marking an important milestone—a grand opening, a grand reopening, celebrating a menu change, a special promotion, new breakfast service, or a new chef, for example, you can invite these reviewers to some sort of special event. While they won’t review the event itself, they will have now been to your location and sampled your food, drinks and service, so will be primed for a return visit as a reviewer.
Natalya Murakhver, a PR consultant based in New York City advises, “If you'd like to be reviewed by a small, local paper, send a note to the restaurant reviewer inviting him or her to visit your restaurant to sample some of the signature dishes. A smaller publication may approach reviews less formally than a paper with a large circulation and may be more willing to review a local business."
You should also be proactive about managing your online profiles so that reviewers and food writers can easily get the information they need to write about you and arrange visits. You’ll probably find that your restaurant is already listed on websites like Yelp, Citysearch, Chowhound and the search engines (it is, I’ve checked). Take control of that space by registering as the business owner to post accurate menus, descriptions, guest reviews and testimonials, web links and photos. Reviewers monitor those pages and will look to see what others have said. If there is a buzz among guests, you are more likely to get a visit.
“Lastly,” Murakhver says, “let's not forget bloggers. Determine which blogs you'd like to get a visit from and register on that site and comment on posts. In other words, become a member of that site's community.”