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How to promote your venue through PR & Social Media

As part of the Seminar Programme at this years’ Hospitality exhibition we asked marketing and PR experts Maureen Mills and Sarah (Taylor) Duncan to give advice on how to effectively plan your public relations and promotions. Unsurprisingly, the seminar room was packed so not everybody who attended was able to sit in. We are grateful to Maureen and Sarah for providing the following advice for those who missed out...

engage a PR specialist. Here are some guidelines; A

• Create a short press kit (basic press release or a general fact sheet – plus menus and wine/drinks lists) that can be emailed or posted

• Ensure that your menu language, grammar and spelling is perfect

• Have good photography taken – interior, chef, some food

• Assemble a local press list, plus a general list of national, hospitality trade and other food/ drink and restaurant guide press. (Visit a good newsagent, and pick up food/lifestyle magazines, plus weekend newspapers with their glossy supplements, and familiarise yourself with the various writers’ and critics’ styles and columns)

• Read food and restaurant blog sites – try a simple Google search and you will unearth dozens of them. Monitor them for trends, reviews and general comment to see which might be relevant to your business.

• Start a database – including previous customers, and as many pertinent local businesses you can find in the area

• Write a short personal letter to each of the key media, attaching the menu and fact sheet, suggesting they visit

• Be prepared to offer a handful of complimentary meals to select journalists, where required

• Consider a small local advertising budget – but make sure any ad you take out is informative and tactical in its messages

• Get involved in the community, especially with regards to select charity events (offer meals as prizes, or for the chef to cook at someone’s home)

• Contact the two main catering trade publications and offer to be included on panels or for general comments on issues, recipe column and so on; and where possible, consider aligning with key small producers (eg meat/fish/cheese/wine) for joint promotions or editorial coverage

• Create a simple but informative website, with updated menus and wine lists, and an email opportunity for feedback and reservations

• Ensure that the town/local area/county tourism bodies consider your restaurant when visiting media come for travel features – especially Visit

SUBSCRIBE - 020 7833 3772 Sarah (Taylor) Duncan Maureen Mills

lot of common sense and pro-active media awareness can net PR gains for smaller restaurants and bars who aren’t able to

Britain and Visit London

• Finally; determine if your product is scrutiny- proof... is there any aspect of food, wine, service or ambience which could be criticised. If possible fix it and then proceed. Otherwise you will read about your short-comings in print!


1 Understand the new rules Social media is about engaging in grown up dialogue with your customers and potential clients, not simply churning out promotional messages. 2 Create a strategy FIRST Social media marketing should be embarked upon in a strategic way and with a clear plan in mind. Before diving in, ask yourself some basic questions; • With whom do I want to communicate? (customers, potential new clients, other influencers, press, employees, etc.)

• How do I want to come across? • What do I want to achieve from my activity? (sales, data capture, profile building, industry thought leadership, etc.)

3 Work out your online flow Website First take some time to review the functionality of your website. This is a primary sales tool. Consider online appointment making programmes, secondary sales opportunities, newsletter/blog feed subscription tools and general social media links. Blog Your blog is a place to show off your personality, industry expertise and thought leadership in a dynamic, modern way. Platforms such as Wordpress are very user-friendly and make it easy to set up a blog, which you can link from your website. Bear in

mind that people are likely to remember just 10% of what they read but 50% of what they see and hear, so consider using video podcasts as well. Facebook Consider setting up a company page and use new features such as the ‘Like’ function to increase your brand awareness. Include photos, videos, customer feedback and your blog feed – all linking nicely back to your website. LinkedIn Up until recently you could only set up personal profiles on this site, but now they have introduced company profiles with new ‘Products and Services’ and ‘Follow us’ functions. Also investigate the Groups function to expand your business network and identify potential new product partners, business alliances and affiliations. Twitter Take time to understand Twitter: how to use @links, Retweets (RTs), trending topics and #hashtags. Vary your tweets – share your own articles from your blog, share breaking news, Retweet others, give the odd personal update, ask for mystery shoppers, and offer killer promotions – again all linking back to your website. 4 Embrace customer feedback There are now more and more platforms for customers to air their views and share opinions, and arguably everyone is now a restaurant critic, a hotel inspector and a service expert. Rather than railing against sites such as Tripadvisor, learn to work with them and use them to your advantage. Monitor comments and respond to both positive and negative feedback via the medium in which they were presented. You can’t please all the people all the time, but if you strive to provide a good product, to the right market, at the right price, have faith that the truth will out and your happy customers will overshadow any poor reviews. 5 Be realistic The beauty of social media marketing is that most of it is free. It does, however, require a big time commitment to get it right. Before you start, consider how much time you can commit and keep within your capabilities. Better to have a small, select online presence done well than abandoned Twitter sites, barren Facebook pages, and blog posts last updated in 2007! If you can set aside an hour a day though, they might just prove to be the most productive hours of the week. •

Restaurant PR Maureen Mills, Network London PR Ltd Tel: +44 (0)20 8947 4474 Social Media Marketing Sarah (Taylor) Duncan, Sleeping Lion Tel: +44 (0)7904 437119 Further advice and information on internet marketing & websites can be sought from: Flatcap Marketing Tel: +44 (0)845 272 4774 Ignite Marketing Tel: +44 (0)20 7275 8682


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