The hospitality industry is in the middle of dramatic shifts and many emerging hotel and restaurant chains will be left behind if they aren’t proactive in developing a strong Public Relations and Community Relations plan. Whether robust or streamlined, it is important for clients to assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and then create a communications plan to keep them on course. After an initial analysis is complete, here are five tips to maximizing PR outreach for your restaurant or hotel chain.
- Write Your Story: Decide what makes you different and special – the space you fill that competitors don’t. Look to your loyal patrons to help identify unique selling points and key phrases you may have overlooked. Create a short, succinct story and consistently use this whether talking to your internal employees, the community or members of the media. Protect your brand/story passionately.
- Identify Loyalists: Whether it’s a reporter that loves your product, patrons that enthusiastically visit each of your locations, or internal employees that have been with you for years – identify loyalists that will help spread your message and tell your story in the way you want it told. It is also critical to listen to their advice and perspective regularly to ensure you aren’t missing a key opportunity or preparing for upcoming challenges.
- Empower Advocates: Once identified, empower a small group of loyalists to create a grassroots public relations/social media campaign. Whether they get a sneak peak at a menu and then flood social media with authentic images and messages about your food or hotel, or they gain access to exclusive information, renovations and updates with they then share online and through word-of-mouth, or perhaps you utilize them as your product testers as you are refining a concept or new offering. Regardless, the more you empower then and provide unique opportunities to spread your message to their friends, families and co-workers, the less cash you’ll have to spend on traditional advertising and the more authentic your story will be.
- Excite Media and Influencers: Media resources are shrinking and hospitality focused journalists, especially for individual communities, are being spread across different beats. To catch journalists and hospitality bloggers attention in this noisy, crowded media space, your events, media stunts and activities need to be well thought out and unique. Always identify what the reporter/blogger’s audience wants and offer that, not what messages/ideas you want to push. Be sure to read/watch/listen to the media outlets you are trying to partner with so you are very familiar with what they like to cover.
- Include Calls to Action: It seems basic, but hotels and restaurant chain owners often generate a lot of buzz through an event, giveaway or PR campaign and then they don’t leverage that excitement. For any outreach, make sure a strong call to action is included. Once you’ve gotten someone’s attention or have been able to tell your story, then what? Do you want them to attend an event, go to your website, call this number? Let your guests and reporters know exactly what they are supposed to do and then track those results.
- Measure Results: As mentioned above, key to the ongoing success of any communications, marketing or PR is to measure and benchmark success and activity. PR can be tough to track, but through organization, chain owners can keep tabs on the amount of time spent and results garnered though website traffic, event attendance, media coverage in key outlets and positive social media chatter generated. It then becomes easy to identify what should be kept or cut for next year’s/quarter’s plan.
Need a fresh pair of eyes to help include relevant Public Relations Goals in your larger 2015 business plan? Contact Eric Sieb (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Heather Austin (email@example.com) to get started.