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public relations for restaurant owners

Public Relations Tips For Restaurant Owners

Whether you run a fine dining establishment or a fast food restaurant, your business must present itself positively to your customers. Excellent food, good prices and decent customer service alone may not be enough to help you compete in a tight market with so many other food service choices available these days. Your restaurant can excel in public relations as a way to advance your business.


Public relations is different from advertising, but both do the same thing: promote your business. There is some overlap, but pubic relations seeks to present information about the company to the general public to cast the business in a positive light.

Promotional Efforts

Your restaurant’s public relations campaign can take a number of approaches. One way to reach customers and to have them come back is to create a loyalty program. For instance, you can develop a card that is stamped after each meal has been purchased. After the sixth meal you might offer one meal free or provide free desserts.

You can avoid the loyalty card by simply giving customers a discount on their next visit. Or you might ask your customers to sign an email registration sheet to receive follow up offers online. You’ll assemble a valuable mailing list that way too.


Public relations also means offering something to the community with nothing expected in return. Or at least with no clearly defined expectancy of certain returns.

Your restaurant might partner with a nonprofit by providing food to support a special event. You might also sponsor a local little league or softball league team, with your company’s name displayed on the front or back of the players’ jerseys. Consider offering a college scholarship in your company’s name or sponsoring summer camp for children with disabilities.

Restaurants can also reach out to new members of the community by teaming up with other businesses to send out welcome packs. Provide coupons to reach new residents and get included in special mailings from the cable company or a phone provider.

Make a Story

Your restaurant’s public relations efforts can be extended by working with your media contacts to get your news out. The story you present should be unique, not self-serving and it should be interesting.

For instance, if you provide food for a nonprofit’s special event, that event could be held at your restaurant. Work with media to announce the event and invite reporters and photographers to stop by and share the news. Contact television and radio personalities, and don’t forget the influence that some bloggers can have on broadcasting an event while mentioning your restaurant’s involvement.

Social Media

Besides your restaurant’s website, you can engage socially with people online.  Facebook and Twitter are two social networking websites that are best used by small businesses.

Establish a Facebook page and provide information about your business. Instead of overtly promoting your restaurant, you might want to share tips with your customers. For instance, your chef might share the recipe for a beloved dessert. Or, your wine waiter might share pairing tips. Encourage your visitors to share your page and your updates.

On Twitter, your restaurant can list daily specials. Like Facebook, you can include photographs of some of your finest entrees. Get included in lists where foodies gather and promote each other.

Public Relations Ethics

When undertaking any public relations campaign, your restaurant must be diligent to follow prescribed ethics. This means providing only accurate information, pointing out and correcting false information, offering attribution when necessary, refraining from compensating media, and posting your ethics policy to your company’s website. If you hire a public relations firm to manage your affairs, make note of that relationship too.


How To Plan Your Restaurant’s Email Newsletter

Restaurant marketers: Are you ready to join the email newsletter marketing trend? Plan and schedule emails ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to create valuable content for your email subscribers.

Frequency: The “Just Right” Dilemma

Remember Goldilocks and the three bears? The same thing can happen to email marketers. Too much contact and your customers feel burned and unsubscribe. Too little and customers forget who you are in between emails. But what is the “just right” target?

If you’re a popular family-style restaurant, weekly newsletters would probably be just right. If you’re a fancy five-star restaurant, bi-weekly or monthly might be better. Kid-focused establishments might even be able to email twice a week. Take a look around at your customers. How often do you have repeat visitors? Use this as a gauge for how often to send emails.

Departments: Structure Your Email Messages

Using departments simplifies email creation. Rotate weekly specials in one department, include a photo gallery in one, and insert a message from your chef or owner in another. These basic departments get you started, but you’ll need something more unique to capture customer interest on a continuing basis. Profile your regulars, whether they’re local celebrities or just ordinary folks. Everyone has a story to tell! Include information about upcoming community celebrations. Talk about the latest happenings at your local high school or college.
You could always choose the easy route and include a recipe based on your restaurant’s cuisine, but try to be more creative.

Cross-Marketing: Getting the Click

Keep departments short and offer the option to click to your website to read more. This strategy takes more planning and you must work closely with your webmaster so everything is in the right place at the right time. Some newsletter services (Constant Contact, for instance) allow you to upload PDF documents to your account, simplifying this process.Always have your “Like” and “Share” buttons at the top of email messages so customers can use social networking to share their opinions of you with friends.

The Final Touch: Coupons

Most people subscribe to restaurant emails so they can save money. Give customers what they want but do it in a strategic way. Some ideas:

  • Free first round of drinks for parties of six or more
  • Exclusive chef’s special only for email coupon holders
  • Free meals for grandkids, but only half off for kids
  • One percent off for every year diners have known each other (would work great for couples, families, and old friends)
  • Deals centered around weird holidays, such as 41 percent off for all customers wearing organic fabrics on the 41st annual Earth Day

  • Free appetizer for all customers who use their cell phones to “Like” you on Facebook while at the restaurant
  • Specials just for groups of coworkers

Wrap It Up: Get Those Newsletters Scheduled

With a little planning, you can get newsletters scheduled in advance so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. At least get your departments in order, even if coupons change regularly. Email marketing is a powerful tool for restaurants—include it in your overall strategy.

marketing your restaurant in the 21st century

How To Market Your Restaurant in the 21st Century

Every successful restaurant story begins and ends with a good marketing strategy. This integral facet of the business is often overlooked and overshadowed by other concerns. The food industry is the second largest advertising sector in the American economy. With ever-increasing competition, an efficient marketing strategy is the cornerstone of private culinary success.

Don’t Ignore Traditional Methods

There are many tried and true marketing techniques that have been around for decades. The savvy marketing strategist should never ignore them. They can be effectively personalized and modified for every situation. However, the biggest current in modern-day advertising is the Internet. The wise business owner takes full advantage of both approaches, creating a diversified and wide-reaching marketing plan.

Traditional Marketing

Local newspaper columns and culinary publications are always a good way to draw attention to a restaurant. Most of the columnists are food critics with a substantial reader base. The readers are the target audience, and often travel in like-minded social circles.
Targeting local businesses is a great way to spread the word about a business and attract new clientele. There is no better place for social interaction and local gossip than the workplace. Coworkers share this information with each other, and with their clients. An effective way to break into this sector is catering. It is a great idea to offer custom and diverse catering packages at competitive prices.

Promotional Partnering

restaurant promotions
Another good strategy is promotional partnering. Make connections with successful and well-respected local business owners who are willing to suggest or promote the business to their customers. Of course this must reciprocated, so choosing a reputable partner is key.
Universities in the vicinity are always a hotbed for social interaction and networking. College students spend a lot of time and money eating out every year and sharing news of their favorite haunts with their friends. Legitimate promotional strategies for this demographic include running regular drink specials and hosting special events, such as a live music night. Effective marketing can be as simple as placing flyers around campus and actively posting on social network websites.

Online Marketing

market your restaurant online
Recent marketing surveys reveal that nearly nine out of ten customers research restaurants via the Internet. The information boom has changed the way that consumers find and interpret topics important to them. It has also affected the way that people communicate and relay this information. Every modern business owner should become familiar with burgeoning online marketing trends and utilize them as efficiently as possible.

Social Media

market restaurant through social media
Social networking websites have recently risen to the forefront in contemporary American society. Nearly 30% of total U.S. Internet time is now consumed by social networking (Experian). Statistics have also shown that half of all Internet users are influenced by social media in some way before making a purchase (Nielsen). It is a quick and easy way to share information about a business, gain an online following, and quickly spread news and promotional offers. Marketing and social media accomplish exactly the same goals. They bring people together and spread information in the most efficient way possible.


Every business should maintain a current Facebook page. Marketing success on this website depends on the owner staying active and keeping the business profile up to date. It is a great way to provide basic information and instantaneously offer promotions. Every “fan” effectively advertises the restaurant for no cost. The comments section provides an ongoing blog of positive reviews.


Twitter is another great online service for businesses. It is a platform for current news, events, and specials. Each time an account owner “tweets,” everyone who follows the restaurant will receive an update. It effectively serves as a billboard on the targeted clientele’s computer or smartphone screen.

Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is another new and increasingly effective instrument in the modern day advertiser’s toolbox. In today’s constantly on-the-go society, 50% of consumers search for restaurants in their automobile, on a smartphone or tablet device. Therefore every restaurant should build a mobile-friendly website. Its features should be optimized for convenient mobile surfing. It is also a good idea to include a map and directions to the business, compatible with major navigation applications for iPhone and Android devices. Speaking of applications, every restaurant owner should visit Urbanspoon and complete the website’s profile of their business.

Email Marketing

E-mail marketing is also a viable strategy for today’s online audience. Over 80% of consumers say that e-mail marketing has had some affect on their past purchasing decisions (Forrester Research). Build up a good client list. A good way to do this is through optional after-meal surveys. Ask if the customer is interested in receiving weekly updates on the business. Most satisfied customers welcome this information, and often forward the correspondence to their friends. The best thing about this strategy is the cost-to-benefit ratio, with average returns approaching $50 for every $1 spent.

There’s No Silver Bullet

It is difficult to choose the best marketing strategy for a small business in today’s ever-changing market. The good news is that there are many very efficient and cost-effective options readily available to the dedicated entrepreneur. Networking and print media are still very important tools, but creativity and diversification are the keys to modern marketing success.