Sinead Ryan, Director of Presence PR, dishes up advice on how small businesses can make the most out of the media.
With the influx of artisan cafes, boutique local producers and trendy pop up eateries, the restaurant industry has become a magnet for media attention in recent years. But many local businesses across Ireland are still unsure about how to secure some of that exposure for themselves. “It’s a hugely interesting, quickly evolving, exciting time for Irish hospitality,” notes Sinead Ryan, Director at Presence PR. “That’s an opportunity, but also a challenge. How to stay fresh and exciting, when there’s new places, cuisines, trends almost every day it seems?”
In terms of the first steps in creating an effective marketing plan, Sinead suggests that businesses research how their current customers discovered them and decided where they want the business to go before investing in any marketing plan. Timing, also, is a crucial element. She explains, “Is there a refurbishment planned, a menu revamp, a change of chef? Make those changes, be your best, and then shout about it. It’ll be far more effective.”
One common mistake that most smaller restaurants and retailers make is imitating larger establishments with meal deal offers, often losing their own unique brand in the process. “Don’t just jump on the bandwagon,” Sinead advises. “Not every marketing activity has to be price driven, such as a discount or meal offer.” Instead, Sinead suggests utilising your local brand and the talents that already exist within your business. For example, creating a unique pre-ticketed themed menu that’s based around your restaurant’s brand and using local suppliers.
Yet, even with an excellent spin, the question of how to market events such as this still arises. Social media, when used optimally, can be a valuable tool in this respect. “Without exception, social media works best when feels it feels personal, authentic and responsive,” says Sinead. “Engage with your audience. Better to do a few picture-led interesting posts a day that highlight your qualities, than a once a week stream of retweets. Keeping it in-house ensures a consistent tone of voice.” When it comes to social media, great financial cost is unnecessary, however it can be time consuming. Sinead advises posting daily specials across all of your channels (this means Twitter and Instagram, along with Facebook) and using the visually appealing nature of food to draw attention.
Sinead further advises, if you build your reputation online, traditional local media will come to you for content. “Traditional and mainstream media is a little trickier. So many businesses are competing for the same space. And there’s not a lot of it!” For restaurants hoping to get national exposure in mainstream media, Sinead recommends engaging with a professional PR company. “Where PR can really help is by presenting you and your business in a way that increases the possibility of coverage,” she states. By having a concisely written press release, menus and contact information on hand and professional photography readily available, Sinead surmises that a good PR can help you craft an effective message for your restaurant, while also advising on timing and approach, and connect with the media outlets that smaller businesses may find it difficult to reach out to. In Sinead’s vast experience, it’s the businesses that constantly evolve and improve, utilising their local resources and showing the customer that they’re doing what they love that create the most effective media campaigns.
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