“That’s a great piece of coverage, how many bookings will it get me?”
If you’re reading this blog post then chances are you’ve either been asked this question or been in the room when it’s asked of someone else – it’s the oldest question in restaurant PR (actually, second oldest – after “Does it have to be fully comp?”) and the answer is true now as it was when it was first asked: “well, in combination with the piece last month, marketing campaign, seasonal offer and new staff training, quite a few”. For people who want hard numbers, PR has always been unsatisfying, trading as we often do in the business of awareness, brand-building, buzz-creating and communicating the indefinable to the public in an effort to draw them to the next great thing we’re working with.
For those who know how to interpret the bigger picture and see the value of restaurant PR however, it’s the long answer which counts. Very few people in this ever-busier city ever went straight to a restaurant because they saw a review and even fewer told the staff there that that’s why they’re there in the first place. Visibility and awareness feed into the other touchpoints – a solid marketing campaign made up of multiple angles on multiple platforms (print, Adwords, great SEO on the website) puts the restaurant back in the potential customer’s eye, a great social media campaign goes viral and puts in their world again.
Then a word of mouth recommendation from a friend who went their recently tips the individual into booking for two on a Tuesday night – they turn up, love the place and return a dozen times over the ensuing years. It wasn’t because they read a review. It wasn’t because of the marketing. It wasn’t even because of the recommendation from their friend – it was because they’d gained enough awareness, gathered enough evidence for themselves, that this restaurant was somewhere they would enjoy.
Restaurant PR did not generate those covers, but without it that person might not have taken the weight of the remaining aspects – the social media ads, the targeted search terms – and never visited, losing the restaurant hundreds of pounds in revenue. No, restaurant PR does not translate directly into covers, even a piece on the front page of the Standard will not have a cash value, but as a part of a well-directed and integrated campaign, it can be the reason for each and every one of them.