Introduction to PR
Public Relations is the act of managing communication between a business and the public. In terms of hospitality marketing, the primary way we do this is by generating publicity about the opening of a business or something exciting happening within the business.
The most important time to do a PR campaign is just before you open your doors for the first time. The reason for this is because there are publications out there who have an active following of foodie and hospitality lovers, and these are the people you want to let know FIRST about your new venture to maximise on the exciting news of your business opening. The purpose of telling these publications about your opening is to generate editorial, feature articles, QnA’s, mentions and user-generated content which their foodie-loving audiences will read and react to. You know what happens then? You end up with lines out the door!
So now that you know what PR is, how do you start a campaign?
Gather your ideas
First and foremost, it’s essential to highlight your business’ point of difference in your press release. Editors and journalists receive hundreds, if not thousands of emails every day, so your message needs to stand out from the rest. To find your point of difference, start by considering who, what, when, where and why. These can include answering questions like:
Who is behind the business? What is your story?
What is your business all about?
Why did you begin your business
When did you start the business?
Where is the business located?
What makes your business and products stand out from the rest?
What’s the most newsworthy element of your business? Are you doing something that no one else is doing?
What are your most stand out dishes or highlights?
Write up your press release
Once you have these ideas sorted, it’s time to put them together in a press release. Start with:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [DATE]
Editors and journalists may not read your press release on the day you release it. So this reminds them when the news was formally released, and therefore how it is. Publications tend to leverage news that is brand new and current, which is why PR is the most relevant marketing service to act on before your business has even opened.
TITLE ( + SUBTITLE)
Your title needs to be catchy, informative and succinct. Focus your title on what makes your business stand out from the crowd. Are you strictly plant-based, or do you have a theme running through your menu? Do you have a well regarded chef working at the pass? If the answer is yes to any of these, highlight the most interesting answer in the title. If you’ve come up with a short, snappy title but feel that it doesn’t quite reveal everything your press release will outline, feel free to add in a longer subtitle underneath.
Paragraph 1 should be used to define who, what, when, where and why. It should outline the idea that the rest of your press release will explore further.
Once you’ve defined your business’ point of difference, make a note of two talking points around what makes you different. Try and pick one that is specific to your business, and one which is a broader topic. Examples below:
Camel’s Milk + Insects for breakfast
Supporting sustainability in hospitality businesses
Reinventing a loved food to create a food trend
ADDRESS + OPENING HOURS
Self-explanatory. Fill these details out for your own business. How will people find your business, how will they find you online etc? These are the key details about your business.
Include a statement about what you want editors, journalists and contributors to do with your press release. What do you want them to do as a result of the press release? A statement similar to the below will do:
“Now seeking editorial, interview and influencer opportunities. For further information, please contact Milk Bottle Projects at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Creating your press kit
Although a press release is a powerful tool on its own, a press kit is much more powerful. We live our lives on our phones and computers, so why create a press release with written content, but no visual content?
IMAGES + MULTIMEDIA
These days digital editors and journalists want to be able to adapt the information in your press release easily and post about your news as quickly and efficiently as possible. The best way to help them with this process is to give them imagery and multimedia (GIFs, video, interactive content that they can share) that is of a high quality and ready to publish straight away. Make sure you choose images that highlight your offering, and support your story about what sets you apart from other similar hospitality ventures.
PDF + ASSETS
Editors, journalists and contributors prefer for information to be very easily accessible and adaptable, so that they can publish on their respective publication. By putting including a .pdf version of the press release and the imagery you’re happy for them to use, you’re literally giving them everything they need to copy and paste! The easier you make the process for these tastemakers, the more likely they’ll be to publish your story!
SOCIAL MEDIA ICONS
With the emphasis on digital these days, it’s important that your social media platforms can easily be found. Once they have read an article about you, they will probably want to see more of your delicious offerings, so it’s important you include the social icons that are relevant to your business and hyperlink them to your accounts.
Creating your database and media list
Here’s a little secret for you: anyone can create a PR database of key industry persons, movers and shakers, editors and journalists, bloggers and influencers. Anyone! All you have to do is firstly work out who you’d like to target. Are you wanting digital-only publications? Do you think your story is relevant to a newspaper readership? Do you know of some food-specific websites that frequently write about new hospitality openings? How about local media?
Once you’ve decided:
Create an excel spreadsheet, or just a table in Word or similar program
Label your spreadsheet “My Hospitality Media Database”
Create columns titled the following: Publication, Full name, Job Title, Email Address, Phone Number, Notes
Create a new tab for each of the types of publications you’d like to target: Online, Physical, Radio, TV
Now, fill out this table with the relevant contacts. To find these publications, editors and journalists:
Go to Google or your preferred search engine, and type in a publication name
Click on that publication and look for the ‘About’ or ‘Contact Us’ page
Find the details of the publication or relevant contact and copy and paste it into your database.
Other ways to get contact details of writers, journalists, editors and influencers:
Check their social media channels or send them a message if needed
Search for the business’ phone number, call the front desk and ask for the most relevant journalist or editor for hospitality openings
For physical publication, grab a copy and go to the Index page or the last few pages to find contact details
For TV and radio opportunities, look up the station and the show and see who the producer is
We can guarantee that by following these recommendations, you’ll end up with at least the start of a comprehensive database to service your press release to.
INFLUENCERS + BLOGGERS
Influencers and bloggers are the latest category of “publication” to be included in PR campaigns. They can be classified as anyone with a significant number of dedicated followers on Instagram, or those who blog about their experiences in their dedicated field. These people are now a fundamental part of any PR campaign because they are tastemakers and influential people. When servicing these people however, it’s important to keep some things in mind:
They expect a comped/ free meal for themselves and their guest in return for media/social media coverage
You should be specific about what you want from them, before you arrange their visit. For example: 1 x organic IG post, 1 x IG story, 1 x review on Zomato or blog post
It’s always a good idea to greet them for their visit, seat them and talk them through who you are, what you do and the key points you want them to know
As you follow up with journalists, book in visits with influencers and see editorial published, make sure to record these into your spreadsheet so that you can keep track of your progress and analyse your results at the end of your campaign!