5 PR Tips to Keep Your Restaurant Top-of-Mind Amid the Pandemic
The restaurant industry has undoubtedly been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the consistent underlying fear of forced closures, restaurants nationwide have had to shift their business models and incorporate new health and safety measures.
As year-over-year sales remain down for many, restaurants now must focus on aligning their marketing and PR efforts to not only gain new customers, but to remain top-of-mind with existing fans. The following tips are the perfect starting point for restaurants to encourage new and returning diners to choose them when looking to order carry-out or visit a dining room.
1. Be transparent, truthful and timely.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen restaurants go under fire for lacking transparency with their customers. The best way to ensure your restaurant’s reputation is not altered during this time is to continue to be transparent and truthful and to do so in a timely manner.
Consistently sharing updates on your website, social media and with the media (if relevant) keeps guests in the know on the status of your restaurant’s hours, services and health and safety practices. In addition, each update can help keep your brand in front of consumers.
2. Position restaurant leadership as industry thought leaders.
There’s one thing for certain during the pandemic – there’s no playbook. As restaurants across the country work to pivot their businesses, it presents an ideal opportunity to provide meaningful and insightful expertise through thought leadership opportunities. Thought leadership can help restaurants build more trust around your brand and services and make you stand out as a subject matter expert.
While being seen as a thought leader doesn’t always happen overnight, the more valuable and authentic content that you share will better help position your restaurant’s leaders as experts in the industry. To get started, pitch interview opportunities with your restaurant’s leaders to local media and industry trade outlets. However, make sure your leaders are also strong communicators and can clearly articulate their ideas and opinions. A poor interview can make the media less likely to reach out for future interviews.
3. Engage with food bloggers and influencers.
There is no doubt that many consumers have been taking to social media over the past six months as they’ve spent more time at home. Now more than ever, social media is one of the most affordable and accessible ways to connect and engage with diners. Collaborating with local bloggers and influencers is a great way to showcase menu items and specials as well as communicate your restaurant’s health and safety message. Invite them to dine at your restaurant or order carry-out and host a giveaway to not only introduce your restaurant to potential new customers, but to also gain a significant number of new followers on your restaurant’s social media platforms.
4. Pitch virtual cooking demonstrations.
2020 has become the year of virtual “firsts” for many people. Virtual happy hours, birthday parties, award ceremonies - even cooking demonstrations. Media outlets across the country have shifted their interview formats to adhere to health and safety guidelines. Just like in-person cooking demos, these media features are a great way to highlight menu items and promotions and share your restaurant’s story with consumers.
5. Keep in touch with and reward your loyal customers.
Now is the time to remember and recognize guests who have supported your business along the way. Whether it be through an exclusive tasting event, virtual cooking class or meal discount, offer something specifically for e-newsletter subscribers, app users and other loyal customers.
While the experiences may look different, there are still many ways to get your restaurant’s name and story out there and continue to engage with customers. For additional public relations and marketing tips or to learn more about how to make your restaurant stand out during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit InspirePRGroup.com/blog or email us at [email protected].
Susie Dunlea is an account coordinator at Inspire PR Group, a national public relations firm that is proud to work with restaurant groups and trade associations to help communicate effectively and tell their stories.