Public Relations – Your Best Relationship Ever
You might know the term from “Ab Fab”, you may have heard of the discipline through Max Clifford interviews but what exactly is public relations and is it any good to you?
Firstly, in answer to the second part of the question, yes, public relations (PR) will most likely serve you well. PR has established itself as an invaluable and cost-effective tool in the marketing mix. You can even study for a degree in the subject.
As to what it is, PR is a fascinating and exciting industry that crosses several of the marketing disciplines but at its core, its guiding principle is a simple one – to build and establish a relationship with the public – i.e. your customer.
Your customers are the people that already come to you and the people you would like to come to you. Together, they make up your target audience. It’s this audience for which you design your menu. It’s these people at which you aim your advertising and for which you organise special events. By winning them over, you can convert their trust and confidence in your restaurant, pub, cafe or other eatery into new and repeat sales.
So how do you go about using PR to make it work for you? The best bit about PR is that it offers lots and lots of ways to build your relationship. You may be starting from scratch with a newly launched venue that would benefit from having your target audience come in, have a look around and do some taste testing. If that’s the case, throw open your doors for a couple of launch events. You might want to invite local businesses to an after-work reception so that they can learn what you’re about. For a few glasses of wine and some canapés, you can start to build a customer base as you give each guest a flyer offering them a discount on a first booking.
You can hand out your flyer, a PR tool, at a family themed event if it’s families you’d like to attract. Hold it on a weekend afternoon and hire in a bouncy castle. If you’re an existing business, you can employ the same tactics to launch your new menu, showcase your interiors make-over or introduce your new chef. To achieve free space in your local newspaper instead of paying for adverts, why not give it a charity angle by holding a raffle or retiring collection for a local cause?
And talking of local newspapers, check to see if the ones in your area write food reviews and if they do, why not invite the person whose task it is to do the write-ups on a visit to your establishment. It will cost just their meal – most likely much less than an advert.
To get your name known by more people, it may be appropriate to employ another PR tactic – sponsorship. Why not sponsor in full or part an event (e.g. a food fayre, a cycle race or children’s teddy bears picnic in a nearby park or in your garden), a team or an individual (have your business’ name emblazoned on the shirts of an U13s local football team or a potential local Olympian) or a “last night of the proms” style concert.
Think about producing your own magazine or newsletter. You can print it or do an e-mail version, having first captured your customers’ contact details through use of a loyalty card scheme or via entry to a Valentine’s Day/Mothers’ Day/Fathers’ Day/Christmas/Easter Weekend competition.
Then there’s the opportunity to work with schools (invite them to make pizza, cook and learn about healthy eating – always something local newspapers will report on – or volunteer to do a cookery demo, which the school can charge parents to attend to raise money for its funds) and other organisations such as service clubs (Rotary, Round Table etc) to increase folks’ awareness of you.
In addition, build awareness through competitions in local newspapers and lifestyle magazines, let your local radio station and TV news programme know if you have a created a new dish to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee or your local professional football club’s league-topping season.
Of course, nowadays, the Internet and social media sites such as Facebook and twitter are vital to public relations, particularly if your target market is a younger one. Get tweeting and make a Facebook page so that you’re part of the online community.
All in all, public relationships can help you make the best relationships you’ve ever had so get cracking for some “absolutely fabulous” returns.