Restaurant marketing is an often overlooked element crucial to a restaurant's continued success. Unfortunately, many restaurant operators fail to see the inherent benefits offered by these services or mistakenly believe they can go it alone. Here, three top PR and marketing gurus explain some of the biggest mistakes restaurants can make when marketing their brand.
Diana Hossfeld, Account Director JS²Communications
About JS² Communications: "JS² PR is a Los Angeles-based integrated communications and consulting firm that provides a full-range of strategic public relations and social media services in the Food and Beverage and Hospitality industries."
Advice for restaurants: "We always advise the restaurants we represent to have a clear sense of who they are as a brand with regards to marketing and social media campaigns and promotions. It's important to stay true to the core philosophy of the restaurant, because the discerning diner can immediately sense if something feels forced or inauthentic. While the voice on social media should be fun given the nature of the platform, it still needs to be consistent to the tenor of the restaurant, and marketing efforts and events should similarly be crafted with that in mind.
That doesn't mean avoiding the unexpected, because it can be effective, for instance, for a fine dining restaurant to have a more casual, family-style night, but it's crucial that it still be organic to the established culinary program and brand. Above all else, marketing and social media efforts need to come across as genuine. The biggest mistake a restaurant can make is losing one's identity by trying to be too many things to too many disparate audiences."
Sarah Jenkins, Owner White Oak Communications
About White Oak Communications: "Established in 2014, White Oak Communications is a boutique public relations and social media firm specializing in hospitality, luxury lifestyle, beauty, and travel. We are dedicated to shaping and sharing our clients’ messaging by constructing relevant campaigns across all traditional and social platforms. You have a story to tell and we want to help you tell it. By crafting a strong narrative, we are able to cultivate a targeted audience. By creating relevant social media content, we are able to increase your visibility. And by connecting with top media and influencers, we are able to elevate your brand."
Advice for restaurants: "The number one mistake I see restaurants make is undervaluing the importance of PR / Social Media help when times are tough. When a business is struggling, often times the temporary fix is to cut expenditures, but when you cut PR, you cut off your lifeline to the media. Our job is to drive business, and in times of duress we can often help salvage a business, by strong press pushes and social campaigns. We help streamline specials, announcements and other initiatives, without coming off as desperate. When restaurants get desperate, they have the propensity to throw every conceivable special they can at their customers, which is always a warning sign. When the tough gets going, we strongly encourage our clients to persevere and push through, often times to great success."
Matt McIvor, Co-Owner Localite LA
About Localite LA: "Localite LA is a hospitality and travel based public relations firm based in Los Angeles which was started three years ago by myself and fiance, Jenn Infanto. We moved to Los Angeles seven years ago and both had separate careers but began to get immersed within the local food scene rather quickly. After meeting several chefs, restaurant owners and peers within the public relations community, we soon realized our passion for this field. Localite LA is now a team of five employees and a dozen clients within the hospitality and travel industry.
Advice for restaurants: "The number one mistake I see restaurant owners making when it comes to social media is not taking it seriously. There is a wide demographic using all social media outlets so it takes plenty of effort to understand those markets and provide info that can target them and get their attention.
When it comes to traditional marketing, a restaurant owners biggest mistake is the absence of uniform branding within their restaurant. Diners are just as interested in the experience of a restaurant as they are the food that is being served. When diners are confused because of the decor, menu and overall branding, they are not likely to return."