Cheap Public Relations for Independent Restaurants
By Jenny Brooks
I came across these three cheap public relations tactics for independent restaurants and wanted to share them. I wrote them for an issue of the SMART Systems Insider. These are activities you can do whether you’re rolling in the proverbial dough or scraping the bottom of the barrel.
1. Offer Meeting Space. Do you have a space that is great for meetings or parties? Offer it up — for FREE. Send an email and actively call PTA/PTO presidents, Little Leagues, non-profit organizations, professional associations (real estate, advertising, and accounting), etc. Become a community resource. There are people all over who are in need of free meeting space. If you find one to three groups who could use your space to hold their monthly meetings, you have just increased awareness and found a potential audience of more than 30 customers. Provide water and coffee for free and offer a customized simple menu of nibbler items for the meeting, for which you can charge.
2. Make Your Signature Item Known. What do you make best in your restaurant, or what is your signature item? Prepare it and deliver it to TV and radio stations along with a description sheet they can read on air, including your restaurant name and location. Develop a short-term promotion and for every person who says they heard about you on the radio or on TV, give them a free appetizer or dessert. This takes a lot of prep, but it’s something that can drum up some good exposure for you. And if you meet with the right producers in TV and radio, you might just start building relationships that will get you on air regularly.
3. Tell People What You’re Doing! Send calendar listings to your local chambers of commerce, daily and weekly publications, and your radio and TV stations. If you have live music, you have to tell people about it and there are newspapers who have space to report it. Get the band on TV to play and promote their appearance in your restaurant. Host book signings of local authors and distribute the calendar information. Anything you do in your restaurant other than serve food has a place in some sort of calendar. You just have to get it out there. And then turn those calendar listings into fliers for your restaurant and hang them up everywhere. That way, people who eat lunch there, but never dinner, will be inspired to come back for dinner. If you don’t have anything planned in your restaurant, start planning!
Don’t forget about using your social media tools, such as Twitter, in all of these tactics. Gee whiz. Another post I need to write. How to implement each of these things using social media tools.
Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic tactics for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products. She is also the editor of SMART Systems Insider, a monthly newsletter from Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters. Questions about PR and how she can help your restaurant? Email her.