Of all the major sectors of travel and tourism, restaurant PR requires some of the most specialized knowledge and language. This, and the fact that nearly half of all new restaurants fail in their first few years and the viability of a restaurant is heavily dependent on the critical reviews it receives, present unique highrisk challenges for the PR practitioner.
In the hotel sector, restaurants are often a necessary amenity— but they seldom are big revenue producers. Rarely will you find a hotel restaurant supported by a dedicated restaurant PR practitioner. Instead, an outside PR consultant or agency will most likely be employed. The latter type of PR support is very common for individual, free-standing restaurants—especially for the purposes of creating an initial “buzz” or word-of-mouth popularity during a restaurant’s first few months of operation.
Once the publicist has established the initial “buzz” for a new restaurant, the greatest challenge is maintaining publicity momentum over the long term. This is where the publicist must maximize his or her creative thinking. The main strategy is to design an ongoing series of special events aimed at most restaurants’ primary sustaining audience—the immediate community in which they operate.
Most of these events should involve local civic dignitaries who are key “opinion molders” or “centers of influence”—a basic communications campaign target in swaying public opinion in the surrounding community. Of course there are some restaurants, especially in high-profile cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where publicists use the time-honored tactic of informing media columnists who was eating at the restaurant, and with whom.
This can mean they will never return to the restaurant, and may even tell their celebrity friends to avoid dining there unless they relish the paparazzi waiting to snap a candid photo. Nevertheless, if the goal is to create buzz, this is another way some publicists choose to beat the competition and extend the popularity of the dining spot