There was once a time when a good reputation alone—spread by word-of-mouth—was enough to ensure a pizzeria’s success, but those days are long gone. There’s too much competition and too many restaurants clamoring for consumers’ attention. Unfortunately, most pizzeria operators, particularly independents, don’t have the time or the skill sets to manage a successful public relations campaign. For many, the solution is to hire a public relations professional.
Depending on their budgets, some operators may hire an agency, but most will want to contract with a local public relations professional who has strong media connections and a proven track record. If you think the time is right to add this new voice to your operation, here are some questions to ponder:
What is your PR objective? What is most important to your bottom line? Obviously, you want to increase your pizzeria’s profits, but what else is important to you? Higher visibility? A repositioning strategy? Greater brand recognition? A higher profile for your chef? A carefully crafted PR campaign will raise both media and consumer awareness of your pizzeria, but you’ll need to determine exactly what you want to accomplish before you hire a PR professional.
Do you have the time to work with your PR professional? Be prepared to work closely with this person. If you don’t have the time yourself, assign a member of your team to be the contact and provide the PR person with guidance, information and feedback. Your PR operative needs up-to-date information about new specialty pizzas, upcoming promotions or events, and anything else you want to publicize. Don’t leave this person in the dark!
Does your PR pro know the restaurant industry? Do your research to make sure your PR pro knows how to position your establishment as a premier restaurant in your area. He needs to be able to speak your language when dealing with local food critics, reporters and bloggers. If he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, they’ll catch on quickly, and your reputation will suffer.
What are your strongest selling points? Develop a list of the key points you want to communicate to your audience, then prioritize them and work with your PR pro to make sure you get optimal results in your campaign. For example, if you’ve got a killer menu with pizzas or dishes that have won local, regional or national awards or competitions, that’s a great hook. If your chef is a charismatic and engaging person, put him in the spotlight. If you have a fantastic craft beer menu, let your PR professional help you get the word out!
Which publications should you target? Obviously, a local real estate publication isn’t for you. Target publications with a strong entertainment focus or food section and make a list of reporters and editors who may be interested in your concept. For example, a great review by a local food critic can provide an incredible boost in sales. To get your restaurant reviewed, you need to invite the food critic in. Have your PR representative make some calls or send emails to invite key writers and reporters to try your restaurant. To pique their interest, tell them about some of your signature menu items. They probably won’t tell you when they’re going to show up, but if your pitch is strong, they will come!