After all, you offer great ambiance, an excellent menu and a first class chef. But for some reason, your press releases get ignored by the media.
If that's the case, here are nine tactics you can use to substantially increase publicity - and the success - of your restaurant. Actually, many of these tactics apply to not just restaurants, but to other types of businesses as well.
1) Eliminate junk mail to editors. If you follow the practice of "send a lot of press releases and get a lot of coverage," you're playing a losing game. Better to limit your releases to only "news they can use" thereby increasing your chances of getting press coverage.
2) Get the chef out of the kitchen. Have your chef don the toque and put on cooking demonstrations in the community. Utilize such venues as shopping malls, retail stores and meeting centers. It's a good way to gain patrons as well as PR exposure.
3) TV or not TV? Are you missing out on one of the best mediums available to restaurants? Local television programs and cable shows often look for restaurants to feature on news and consumer shows. Contact your local stations and let them know that your restaurant is both unique and interesting.
4) Promote your signature dish. What? You don't have a signature dish? Well, get one fast. Choose your most popular entree, publicize it on your menu and through PR, become famous for it. How do you think some restaurants keep winning "Best of..." awards for a particular dish?
5) Adopt a charity. Here's a chance to do some good for a worthy cause, while at the same time, attracting new patrons and gaining publicity for your restaurant. Once a year, donate a percentage of one night's proceeds as a fund-raiser. Normally the charity organization's PR department will take care of the publicity.
6) Don't just do a restaurant opening, make it an event. A while ago we conducted an opening in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, for one of our restaurant clients. We didn't just announce the opening; instead we produced "the world's longest ribbon-cutting" by stretching a specially-made 100-yard ribbon across a marina. We had the mayor cut the ribbon from aboard a Coast Guard Cutter.
7) If you don't already have a W ebsite - get one. Keep up with your competition - most of them already have a Web site. It need not be as expensive as you might think - starting as low as $500. Use the site to display your menu, show a favorite menu from your chef and feature special events such as wine tastings or cigar dinners.
8) Co-op meetings and parties with civic groups. Offer special menus and prices for lunches, dinners or happy hours for business, civic and community groups. Host business networking events for Chambers of Commerce. And, of course, put out press releases before and photo captions after the event.
9) Create a cookbook of your chef's favorite recipes. Make it available for sale at the restaurant and have the chef autograph it. Then publicize the availability of the book.
Joe Greenwald is president of Greenwald Communications Associates, a public relations firm based in Limerick, Pa. His email address is: email@example.com