Restaurant PR isn’t all cocktails and five star dining.
As public relations people, it’s our job to keep our clients in the media. But food editors, writers, and bloggers are constantly approached by PR people to cover the latest and greatest restaurants, recipes, and products.
So, how do you break through the onslaught of bad email pitches, long-winded phone messages, and off-topic tweets to get through to these local industry influencers and get your clients those much-coveted regional and local kudos?
And once you’ve broken through the clutter how do get your fair share of press?
Here are some ideas.
Include viral content
As more and more publications turn to social media to drive traffic to their websites, PR people should be thinking of viral additions to their written pitches—include a YouTube video, a Flickr photo gallery, or a pin board on Pinterest.
Offer the writers you’re pitching some additional resources they can use on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. Think about making their job easier and giving them more to work with. Chances are your emails will get more than a second glance.
If you’re trying to get your local food writer to cover something, the tried and true PR tactic of tying it to a national trend is a sure fire approach. Is your chef using every part of the pig? Find a few big city chefs doing the same and mention them when you pitch the idea.
Did The Wall Street Journal
just cover bourbon barrel beer and your local beer client is brewing up a batch? Sounds like a national trend. Wine in a keg making a comeback? Find three national places that are serving vino this way and mention them.
If you can tie your client’s food and beverage fete back to three other products or people on a national level then you’ve got a story that might pique the interest of your local food editor.
If you’re repping the company that provides the kegs for the wine, you will need to find a local restaurant that’s using your product and pitch it that way.
There are some ideas that are so good they deserve media attention. For example, is your chef building a garden for the local at-risk charter school and mentoring the students on farm to table cooking? That’s a good local news story.
Don’t stop with a quick email pitch. Think about pitching it to media through not just a press release, but with a video. If it’s a visual story, make it a visual pitch. If the local culinary students are coming down to work in the kitchen one day, consider adding more visuals to your pitch to highlight what, where, and how the students will take part in the local restaurant world.
Avoid fill-in-the-blank ideas
“Just in time for [INSERT HOLIDAY], Super Sugar has fabulous drinks recipes!”
Local food editors almost never use recipes attached to products. Even if you’re working a national account and you’re trying to reach out to topp-tier designated market areas through the local food and drink section, it’s unlikely they will respond to something that seems as generic as fill in the blank.
Local reporters try to use recipes from local chefs, not companies that make national products. If you can find a local chef that’s using your national product and tie it to the pitch, you might have a decent chance at scoring coverage.
Anchor your story with research from a credible source
Think about using research from food associations such as McCormick’s annual forecast of the hot flavors for the next year. That’s something food editors can use. Take that information and tie it back to something your chef is doing locally and you’ve got a winner. Again, if it’s trending nationally you are going to have a much better chance of positioning it locally.
If you’re the PR person for the organization that issued the study, find someone in the area you can use as the media hook with your client as the source.
Food writers have their pet peeves—and misspellings are at the top of the list. If you’re going to name a fancy ingredient, drink, or region, you had better know how to spell it and use all the accent marks that go with it. Spend some time double checking your spelling of foreign words and phrases to ensure your idea doesn’t meet the delete button.
Abbi Whitaker is the president of The Abbi Agency. Follow her on Twitter @abbijayne. A version of this story first appeared on the Abbi Agency Blog.