PR Campaign Model for All Restaurants

 In 4. Jenny Brooks, Public Relations

By Jenny Brooks

Have you read anything about Papa John’s lately? How about Papa John’s Camaro? If you answered no, I don’t believe you!

Papa John’s summer PR campaign and tour of the US was really well executed and is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

This story today inspired this post. I was hoping he’d find his old Camaro!

Papa John’s hasn’t reported on whether its campaign directly impacted the company’s value or sales, but it sure is getting them attention at a time when no other major pizza chain is getting any (or recovering from negative attention). And I’m willing to bet they’ll see a return on the investment of Papa John’s time and the agency’s time that executed it all.

So what can you take away from a national campaign executed by a 3,400 chain carry-out pizzeria?

1. Every chain has to start somewhere. Papa John’s started with one guy selling his Camaro to build his empire. What did you give up to start your restaurant? Do you remember that sacrifice every day? Was it worth it? If you could do it again, would you? Maybe you have to sacrifice more to get further. You may not be driven to build an empire, but to run a successful business that is profitable, you have to be smart and use your sacrifices appropriately. What can you invest in now to build long-term success?

2. Tell your story. Before this “Papa’s in the House” campaign, I knew very little about the founder of the company. I knew I loved those breadsticks, but I didn’t know how they came to be. I read that Papa John was often mistaken for an actor, not the real entrepreneur behind the company. People didn’t believe he was the real founder. Now he’s telling his story and connecting with his customers. Do your customers know your story? Do they believe in what you’re doing and how they support it? Tell them. Put it on the menu, on the walls, at the register, mail it to them. You’ll find your customers and your employees will be more loyal and more supportive when they know the person behind the business.

3. Make your effort consistent with your brand and your campaign. This PR campaign done by Papa John’s was consistent with the founder’s story and his personality. They saw a problem with their brand – lack of recognition of the founder and his story. They came up with a campaign to educate and inspire the public, and it alligned nicely with the man behind the brand, who is the brand. He delivered pizzas. He worked in the stores. He connected with customers, media and his employees. He was there and he was committed. Define what you’re going to do and then do it.

4. Think ingeniously when it comes to milestones. Connecting the Papa John’s milestone anniversary back to the Camaro he sold to make it all possible is truly ingenious. Instead of just giving 25% off pizza orders on the 25th anniversary, the company invested in a thoughtful and fun public relations campaign. Papa John toured the country in a replica Camaro. It’s exciting, fun, relevant to his story and unique. What can you build a PR campaign around? What will make your PR campaign stand out? What’s unique about your story? What could people learn about you and your business that would inspire them to be loyal to you?

I point to the chains often because they develop great campaigns and promotions. But you know what? They pay big public relations agencies some big money to come up with these campaigns. The average independent restaurant owner doesn’t have a budget to hire for ingenuity. Instead, look for things that inspire you and think how you can incorporate it into your business. Then hire someone to connect the dots and pull it off.

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.

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