Top 5 PR Strategies For Restaurants in 2021
Restaurants have taken one of the biggest hits in 2020 due to Covid-19 and millions of people in the hospitality industry lost their jobs overnight. For restaurant owners, it’s been a constant pivot and adaption of their business model. Opening, then closing, then opening again. It’s been an uphill battle and the sad reality is many have lost. But overall, we have a lot of restaurants who are continuing to push forward and are looking at 2021 with positivity and hopes for a better year. Below is a Simple Guide to How PR Helps Restaurants as we enter 2021 that will help them not only stand out, but survive.
The main need of restaurants is “more butts in seats.” But how do we do that? Is it internal, meaning what the restaurant needs to do with expanding it’s menu choices, creating a better experience, offering more engaging events, changing it’s hours, etc? Or is it external, which is PR, marketing, social media, positioning to support what they are already doing internally? It’s both actually…below we delve into how we work with restaurants and strategize in a Covid-19 world.
Understanding Restaurant PR Agencies
The Best Restaurant Public Relations Agencies build awareness and shape a brand’s image through different forms of communication. Fun, right? As Veteran Restaurant Publicists, we connect with the ultimate gatekeepers, our media friends, to target audiences across the globe and craft newsworthy story angles. We love what we do because it’s about promoting other entrepreneurs like ourselves and we take pride in helping businesses organically grow. We also love it because The Benefits of PR For Restaurants are real! Part of its superpower is the fact that its earned communication, meaning “not paid” like advertising or sponsored content. It’s the most unbiased, honest depiction a brand can receive, making it the most credible type of coverage! Everybody wants it, but no one has control over it because it is through the eyes of the media. As publicists, we provide as much information as possible, connect the media with our clients and craft the message. But after we’ve delivered and the media personally experiences the service or tries the product, it’s their words. And that’s when the excitement & roller coaster ride begins!
How Can PR Help Restaurants?
Working with chefs & restaurants is exciting, fast-paced and ever-changing making the hospitality industry always in need of PR! And during a pandemic where they’re facing closures every single day, they need our help more than ever. Publicizing specials, menu changes, promotions, new chefs, events and everything in between is key to restaurants and keeps them in the limelight. From small independent restaurants to larger, hospitality groups, every business needs a different approach, but the same outcome…exposure, exposure, EXPOSURE. We work with restaurants across the board to create programming that not only resonates with the guests but that generates media interest.
Bettie Bomb is an Experienced Restaurant PR Agency based in Chicago, having worked alongside the country’s hottest chefs, independent restaurants, cutting-edge fast casual concepts and more, so this is definitely our jam. Our first Restaurant PR clients were restaurants and some of the top names in Chicago. Le Colonial, Shaw’s Crab House, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, Mon Ami Gabi and more. We cut our teeth on these restaurants and are happy to see them still thriving in Chicago’s restaurant scene today.
Support Your Community in Need
What a business does locally to support its community is huge. And especially during a time of crisis, these efforts of being a good samaritan and helping neighbors, other businesses and families in need are what spotlights your business. When this is all over and it will be someday, this is what people will remember. By giving your business a giving spirit, your local community will embrace you. By doing so, you’re making your brand approachable, charitable and one that cares and supports its own community.
Donating to local non-profit organizations, sponsoring charity events or initiatives, volunteering services, giving back to the community and more are all different forms of community involvement. Whatever you choose, align it with your restaurant and what values are important to you. Perhaps it’s supporting out of work hospitality employees or feeding local families in your community? PR Helps Restaurants by letting the media know about these community initiatives, which ultimately casts a positive spotlight on all of your good deeds. Media love to hear about community stories with a philanthropic or “giving back” angle, so these types of pitches are always newsworthy.
Create Safe, Easy & Affordable Options for Customers
Restaurants we’re so creative throughout the year and continue to be as new guidelines are put in place. This is crucial right now and a lot of customers, especially in the beginning, we’re scared to leave their houses. Hospitality workers along with grocery stores quickly became essential workers and started to come up with very creative ways of getting consumers what they need. People need to eat and a lot of them rely on restaurants for their meals 3-5 times a week. Restaurants that we’re able to quickly pivot to curbside pickup, contactless delivery and other offerings AND made it easy for customers to still enjoy their food and other offerings we’re the places that stood out. For example, Fry the Coop created an order and pick-up window with a tent and markers so customers knew where to order, stand while waiting and pick-up. They knew that if the first time customers tried to order it was difficult, they wouldn’t come back. Make it as safe, easy and affordable for customers and they will keep supporting you.
Have the Ability to Pivot & Adapt…ALWAYS
Just like school, where teachers and students can now bounce back and forth between e-learning and in-person. They’ve been forced to figure out and create a system in a short period of time. For restaurants or any business for that matter, it’s about creating or having a program in place that is seamless. Take the time to formulate a plan that protects you in case any of the “2020 happenings” happen again. For example, be ready to offer products/services that are in high demand at a moment’s notice. Many restaurants used their distributors to sell toilet paper, bread, meat and more when these shortages happened last year. Businesses set up pantries offering staple items such as local cheese, eggs, bread, tampons, candles, etc, started selling CSA’s from local farmers or whatever produce, dairy & local meat they had, set up delivery services and curbside pick-up that was safe & contactless, etc.
New, Timely & Topical
One thing that hasn’t changed during Covid-19…the media are always interested in ideas that are new, timely, topical and different. What is your restaurant offering that no other restaurant is? Or is it the holidays and they’ve created something super creative for Christmas, Hanukkah, etc? Is there national news that you can weigh on and talk about as it relates to you? These are all ways to be positioned and generate exposure, which ultimately drives traffic to your website and into your restaurant.
Here’s an example: We work with Chez Moi, a French bistro in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Owner and Chef Dominique Tougne worked at the critically-acclaimed Bistro 110, located off Michigan Avenue for 15 years and was known throughout Chicago. Tourists and locals alike loved this restaurant and were sad to see it close. As a way to generate business during a slower time at Chez Moi, we decided to offer a “Tribute to Bistro 110” menu during March. The menu featured signature dishes from the beloved restaurant and people absolutely loved it! Now adapt it to a Covid-19 world…create a gourmet box to go with these items included in a beautiful package paired with a bottle of wine.
Position Yourself As a Leader, Change Agent and/or Beacon of Hope
Position yourself as a leader by sharing your knowledge, thoughts, opinions and expertise. This gives yourself and your restaurant credibility, essentially making people want to listen. Media outlets are always looking for expert sources in anything and everything…doctors, lawyers, philanthropic advocates and beyond…so be one in the restaurant industry! These thought leaders are trusted sources who provide knowledge, tips, strategies and over time, create a following. Thought leaders inspire people and ultimately lead to exposure.
In addition to being a thought leader is being a beacon of hope during a crisis (i.e. Covid-19) or agent for change. A prime example is the Illinois Restaurant Association and how they have stepped up during the Covid-19 crisis, advocating for restaurants across the state with local government. Restaurants have applauded them for their efforts and fully appreciate them fighting for the livelihoods of everyone in the hospitality industry. Being a leader across the board will bring attention, respect and cast a positive spotlight on your restaurant. When this is all over, they will remember who stepped up to support their community and support you in return.
Introduction to Bettie Bomb
Founded in 2005, Bettie Bomb is a Restaurant PR Agency Based in Chicago, offering a suite of services from trusted industry partners under one creative umbrella. PR, Marketing, Social Media and beyond…we work as an extension of your team, creating personalized campaigns, building awareness and telling your story when it matters most.
We are a female-owned Boutique Restaurant Public Relations Agency specializing in all things lifestyle: food, fashion, hospitality, retail, health & wellness, medical, consumer and philanthropy. Partners Rebecca Kussmann & Laura Collins work closely with businesses & organizations to target key audiences and generate exposure all under the Bettie Bomb umbrella. Work one-on-one or have us build a team. We can be BIG and we can be small…that’s the beauty of it. Small, but mighty with the ability to grow. That’s us in a nutshell.