As our office is in downtown Washington, we pay close attention to restaurant PR in DC. The past few years have been good to the adventurous DC diner, with many great, eclectic restaurants opening in city neighborhoods such as 14th Street, H Street NE, and Columbia Heights.
As more DC restaurants set up shop and the market gets saturated, it becomes harder to make your restaurant stand out from the competition. That’s where smart restaurant PR can help the business owner. After all, how many times can you get the media excited about a new restaurant opening, a new chef, interior renovation, new menu, or other common happening?
• Know the trends. We’re still at a loss to understand the entire DC cupcake trend, but that being said, it doesn’t hurt to capitalize on new eating trends. As the Washington Post recently pointed out, food from local gardens are all-the-rage in fine dining. While the restaurant industry certainly has buzz around such trends, it’s worth the investment in an aggressive publicist who will track restaurant media trends and stories, and help their client take advantage of those that fit well with the business.
• Multimedia. So many restaurant websites are, well, static. Beyond the menu, location, hours of operation, the sites usually fall flat. How about adding a regular video series of the chef shopping? The staff having fun? Bartenders showing you how to make drinks? What about a blog that discusses the city, the chef’s inspiration, how the menu came together? Social media and affordable production tools allow these PR tactics to become a reality.
• Find partners in publicity. Many restaurants struggle with start-up resources, and no doubt would rather devote their funds to creating great menus. Still, that doesn’t mean that restaurant PR shouldn’t be part of the budget. Although it’s a myth that restaurants are overwhelmingly prone to failure, there’s nothing wrong with finding strategic partners to help generate publicity. Area cooking schools, food banks, urban growth advocates, and even a bar next door are among a wide range of organizations that have common interests with restaurants. By working together, more PR ideas can be realized and implemented.
• Tease the diner. Post a potential new restaurant recipe on Facebook, ask for feedback, see what people say. You’ll certainly have an audience of fans and likes if you’ve followed the “multimedia” tactic above. This is the greatest market to incubate a new dish and tweak the ingredients until it becomes a hit. How about going even smaller, as in a creative recipe that’s crammed into a 140-character Tweet? Mixologists could definitely shake drinks into a Twitter feed.
If you want to stand out, restaurant PR can give your business distinction amongst the masses, and get your eatery past the typical “we’re open for business” press release.