Why Public Relations is So Important for The Food Service Industry

Why do I need public relations? It’s a question people ask me all the time, and the answer is really very simple. When you think about jobs in a restaurant or food shop you have to think beyond front and back of the house.

You also need to MAKE SURE you add public relations into the mix. Why? Because PR is more important than ever. Social media and review websites are part of the reason. Word of mouth just isn’t enough to raise a restaurant’s profile anymore. You need active social media, positive reviews on the web and PR to build your business. They are all intertwined. Yet many restaurants still don’t want to invest in a public relations firm and still believe they don’t need to be on Facebook or Twitter. Wrong!

I like to say public relations starts from the minute a customer does an Internet search for a food business. If they have good PR, positive things will come up. This is essential. If you do a search and nothing comes up, a guest may be inclined to skip your establishment. If only bad reviews come up? Well that certainly won’t help.

So what does PR do and why is it worth the expense? Public relations can raise a restaurant’s profile. Traditional ads often don’t work for restaurants, people are more passionate about food than ever. Everyone wants to read more about the food offered, see recipes and watch TV hosts trying the food.  On top of that, in foodie-centric cities like New York City, you are competing against thousands of other restaurants, from casual spots to world-class restaurants. You need to make a good impression, and quickly, if you’re going to succeed. PR can help you do that.

Another key aspect to PR is that it helps a business actively track, engage in and manage their social media imprint. This is ESSENTIAL, because making improper inroads onto Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook can cause long-term damage to your brand.

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How can you find a PR firm that is right for your restaurant? First, you need to figure out your budget range, obviously. Second, you should determine whether you want to go to a big PR firm or a smaller boutique firm.

Once you figure that out, research different firms and find out if anyone specializes in your type of food business or has similar clients. It really helps to use someone who is passionate about what you do, and believes in your product. If they are passionate about your specialty they will also probably already be knowledgeable in that area. This means they can get up to speed quickly on your account and start getting your name out to the media!

Why do you need PR? Because you can’t afford not to have it.

Cindi Avila is the owner of Green Goddess Public Relations in NYC. She specializes in food, family, health and education clients. Her clients include the Institute of Culinary Education and Blossom Du Jour restaurants.