As of January 2013, there were more than 600,000 restaurants in the United States. With so much competition, how does one stand out from the pack?
The first option is paid media or marketing.
Television spot during a Cardinals game – $500-$2,500
Radio spot during primetime commute – $1,000-$3,000
Prominent Highway Billboard (per month) – $1,500-$5,000
You get the idea.
Advertising is necessary, but expensive. And don’t think for a second the restaurant down the street isn’t looking into the same methods.
So how do you make your business different? How do you effectively reach your targets and make them remember you? That is where public relations, or earned media, comes into play.
When a public relations professional first approaches a pitch, they are focused on one thing: storytelling. There may be more than 600,000 restaurants in the United States, but each one has a brand story. The key is figuring out what that story is.
Here are five tips for identifying an effective brand story:
1) Stop trying to sell
You aren’t mining for the brand story behind your business simply to drive sales. Sure, that is the end goal, but with brand storytelling there is so much more that goes along with it. You want to engage customers. You want them to remember you. Next time they are thinking about going to an Italian restaurant for dinner, you want them to think of the restaurant they read about in the newspaper that has been run by the same family for three generations.
2) Know your client
This is a big one. Nothing is more frustrating for a client than hiring someone to work on PR that isn’t willing to put in the work to find out about your company. It is not enough for someone trying to write a pitch to simply know the basics. It takes digging and asking questions to find that story that is going to grab a journalist’s and the audience’s attention.
3) Know your audience
Just as important as knowing your client, you need to know your audience. Who does the client want to target? What publications are you pitching this to? There may be one story, but there is more than one way to tell it so that it hits the target.
4) Be relatable
What is the point of telling a story if it isn’t one that people are interested in? It is probably not advantageous to talk about the billionaire that added this restaurant to his portfolio. No. This is not a story that people are interested in. This is not a story that is going to make customers want to experience what you have to offer. Make it a personal, relatable story.
HINT: If the brand story that you create is something that customers can mention in casual conversation, you’ve nailed it.
5) Be newsworthy
This is more important in the drafting of a pitch than in the storytelling, but it is certainly still an element of effective storytelling. Create a story that makes sense in the world. Find out what your target audience is talking about, and mine for a story that aligns with that. This also makes it easier for a journalist to take what you are offering and turn it into something more than a mention on page 10.
Does brand storytelling sound a bit like journalism? Well, it should. Developing your story takes some digging, but once you find it, have some fun with it! Take advantage of the opportunity to give your customers an inside look at your business. Tell your story and I guarantee they will remember you.
We know your brand has a story to tell. Let us help you find it.