Restaurant publicists are caught between a rock and a hard place. They’re often hired to create media magic—without access to potions or pixie dust. When buzz isn’t buzzing, the restaurateur blames the publicist.
Complaints from both sides are common, but they don’t always spell disaster. We’re offering a truce with advice from PR pros, including Melissa Libby of her namesake agency in Atlanta and Lori Randall of Randall PR in Seattle. Listen and learn from some of the most common issues.
Restaurant Dilemma: Call Yelp, Urban Spoon, Open Table, etc., and have that bad review taken down.
PR Pro Solution: There will always be haters in this world and you can’t please them, so the sooner you stop trying to, the better your world will be. Listen to what people are saying and focus on finding a middle ground that will deliver an overall better customer experience.
Restaurant Dilemma: Why should I be on Twitter? I don’t want to have to tell everyone when I pee.
PR Pro Solution: No one talks about peeing on Twitter. Where did this myth come from? Take part in the conversation by being engaging and interesting in a way that builds your brand.
Restaurant Dilemma: Call the writer and demand a retraction. We are not a one-star restaurant.
PR Pro Solution: But that’s what you got, and there’s nothing factually incorrect. Make the good better and fix the bad.
Restaurant Dilemma: We’re already busy on (insert holiday here), so don’t spend your time on that. Tell the producer we’re not interested.
PR Pro Solution: So you don’t want that TV cooking segment on the midday news? Or to become more familiar with 100,000 viewers?
Restaurant Dilemma: Why was I left out of that story? I make the best (insert dish here). No one gets me.
PR Pro Solution: Traditional media is no longer the only vehicle to reach your customers. Use social media to build your audience, connecting with other restaurant professionals and journalists on sites like Facebook and Twitter to get your name out to the public.
Restaurant Dilemma: Why am I bothering with social media? It’s ridiculous.
PR Pro Solution: Let’s spend less time telling fans about how great you and your menu are and give them reasons to share your content. Post photos of your latest dish, share special deals with your followers and help promote other people in your community—they’ll be more inclined to help you in turn.
Got a PR or marketing question?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have our PR pros take a stab at them in an upcoming issue.
Make sure you articulate specific goals to your publicist and the deliverables are fully understood. Most won't push back on a bad idea so make sure to get a clear point of view. And most of all, listen. You're paying for the advice.