How To Pick The Right PR Firm For Your Business

With so many hundreds of PR firms and consultants out there, it can be really difficult to decide which one is the best fit for your business.

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Because PR is one of the more effective means to get attention, website traffic and customers for your small business, selecting the right PR firm is critical.

Rather than race into a relationship with a PR firm, it makes sense to follow a sane, rational approach based on a variety of key information

As I said in an article on Entrepreneur.com, it comes down to a combination of your budget, your expectations, and the firm’s track record in delivering results.

Here are some more ideas to consider as you search for the right PR firm to help your business grow and prosper:

  • Budget: establish a PR budget and then determine which firms fit into your plans. PR compared to advertising is less expensive but you still have to invest in a PR firm to get you the results you seek. Know what you can afford and don’t be tempted to stray far from that number.
  • Chemistry: smaller PR firms usually rely upon one or two executives in the firm so get a good “gut feel” about the PR firm by interviewing the key players, asking them a variety of specific questions and seeing how the respond. They should be forthcoming and willing to learn about your dreams for the business. They should also be honest about your prospects for PR and not make grandiose promises that cannot possibly be met.
  • Devil’s in the Details: look at the contract details for each firm. You don’t want to get stuck into a binding long-term contract; you want the option of getting out of an arrangement as early as 90 days into the campaign if you know it’s not working out.
  • Prior Experience Need Only Apply: it helps to work with a firm that has dealt with your industry before. For example, if you run sports business make sure the firm has knowledge of this field. Still, some PR firms have experience in related industries and/or working with small businesses, both of which can make for a good fit.
  • Social Media: make sure they know how to use social media to promote themselves and their customers. Ask if they use Twitter or LinkedIn to connect with the media as an alternative way to promote you other than through email. Social media is now part of the PR tool set so every PR firm should have a strategy for using it.
  • References: don’t be afraid to ask for them. References are the best way you can find out if the PR firm has a track record of satisfying clients.
  • Availability: make sure your primary contact at the firm is responsive to your questions. You should not have to wait very long for responses to your emails and phone calls. Keep in mind that they may be busy and not be able to talk or email immediately, but same day responses are the norm.
  • Listening Skills: does the PR firm actually listen to what you have to say about your business and respond to your list of expectations. It’s a two-way street so the PR firm should incorporate your “insider” knowledge into its overall strategy for making you famous. This should not be a lecture about PR and how the PR firm is the best suited to work on your account.
  • Success Measurements: PR for small business needs to deliver results in 90 days or less. That’s why you should agree with the PR firm on what defines the PR campaign’s success: articles in local newspapers, TV news interviews, profiles on blogs, social media mentions, etc.

Got some good ideas that helped you find and hire the right PR firm? Feel free to share!

About Ryan Gardner: Ryan is an PR intern for Dave Manzer PR and Marketing, which is an Austin tech, healthcare and lifestyle PR agency based in Austin for startups and fast-growth businesses. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. If you have any PR questions about your startup or small business, feel free to tweet Dave Manzer at @davemanzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

15 Ways To Get Your Restaurant Or Food Business On TV

Over the past two years running PR over Coffee, I have learned a few things about what reporters, bloggers and TV anchors look for in a story. One subject that never seems to get old is food!

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The challenge, however, is always how to find the right time and story message (or “news hook”) to get a media professional interested in your food business.

In this blog post, I have come up with 15 pretty reliable ways to get your food business on the local morning and noon TV news shows.

Don’t get me wrong. Not one of the 15 ideas below can guarantee you’ll get news coverage. But, if you do the work, if you keep communicating your timely message to your local TV news, then eventually your PR efforts will pay off.

Bon appétit!

1. Get to know the producer or anchor for the early morning and noon news shows.

Watch the early morning and noon news shows to get a look at the types of restaurants they cover. Reach out to the producers or anchors via email or Twitter and try to plan a time to meet.

2. Hold a special dinner at your restaurant benefitting a local charity.

Figure out which local charity best suits the image and message of your restaurant. Hold a special dinner for them.

3. Collaborate with a specialty foods retailer to put on a one-of-a-kind dinner tasting.

Beer inspired menu collaboration with local brewery; Extra Virgin Olive Oil inspired menu; local ice cream shop creates a really unique flavor for your dessert menu. The possibilities are endless.

4. Emphasize your healthy menu or food products for Cholesterol Awareness or Heart Health Month

Healthy food can go a long way. During these months, add special healthy options to the menu. Offer them at a discounted rate or include them in a Happy Hour special.

5. Invite a well-known food author to your restaurant or store for a special reading, book signing, or product tasting.

Pairing your restaurant with an author event will bring a crowd. The experience will be personal for fans of the author, while tying your restaurant in with something they love.

6. Launch a new seasonal menu featuring local farm-to-market produce.

Authentic, garden-fresh food goes a long way with both fans and critics.

7. Offer a special Mother’s Day brunch with free tableside neck massages, mimosas, and chocolates for dessert.

Serve up the motherly love with your unique Mother’s Day options. The moms will love it, and it may just land you on TV.

8. Get on a reality TV show – cooking competitions, Restaurant Impossible, Bachelorette, Survivor…any one works.

You want an easy way to get your restaurant’s name out there? Be on TV. There is no easier way to advertise.

9. Write a cookbook based on recipes from your restaurant, grandmother, products you sell – you name it!

Giving everyone the option to eat your amazing recipes whenever they want will gain you a lot of fans. People will share the recipes, and maybe you will be invited to cook one on a local TV news show.

10. Invite Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives or any famous food critic to your restaurant. 

Inviting one of these influential and massive names in the food industry could be the best idea you could have. If a famous food critic/chef says he loves the food, it gets people’s attention.

11. Break a Guinness Book of Record for largest…anything you can imagine with food!

There’s nothing more interesting than being somewhere where someone broke a word record, and TV shows love to cover those stories because they are fun and highly visual.

12. War veterans who own a restaurant can talk about their journey from the battlefield to owning a food business.

People love a heartwarming, feel good story. If you are a combat veteran of Afghanistan or Iraq, tell your story – people want to hear it.

13. Start a food festival with other food entrepreneurs.

Set up a weekend where your restaurant and local restaurants set up booths and give samples of your food.

14. Hire the hottest chef to redesign the whole menu.

If you hire a famous chef to redo your menu, it’s possible a local news channel will want you to talk about it on air.

15. Invite the Mayor or Congressman to your grand opening and tell the news about it.

Have the Mayor or an influential Congressman cut the ribbon to enter your restaurant. Work with the politician’s chief of staff to invite the local news to the event – after all, most politicians can’t resist the limelight!

How To Add PR Sizzle To Your Restaurant

The restaurant industry is a sizzling one of course. However, adding a good public relations and marketing plan to your restaurant can significantly increase the heat, bringing in more business.

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That fact is a PR plan for your restaurant or food business doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. A simple PR approach is to create a good calendar of upcoming events for your restaurant.

Maybe next month you are premiering a new Prix Fixe menu to better serve your regular customers? Maybe the following month you are hosting a special dinner to fund a favorite charity? Whatever the case may be, you should add your new promotions and initiatives to your online calendar of upcoming events.

Be sure to compose a News Alert email consisting of the “who,” “what,” “where,” “what,” “when,” and “how” of your event. Send it to the food writers in your community and the anchors or producers of your local network morning news show – they usually program food-related segments once per week.

Have good news hook in the subject line of the emails you send out: “Sweet Nothing Offers Class on Healthy Dark Chocolate Desserts to Celebrate American Heart Health Month.”

[HINT: Tying your promotions to larger, national events or causes makes it easier for the news media to justify covering your food business.]

When should you start promoting your next event? Start as early as three weeks out by identifying the local food writers in your community. Create a spreadsheet of their contact information complete with news outlet name, website, email, phone number and notes.

Next create and send your News Alert at least two weeks prior to the event. That allows you enough time to pitch all of the media outlets at least once by email. It’s a good idea to follow-up the email with a phone call to reinforce the pitch, ensuring the food media know you’re serious and won’t go away without at least a response.

The bottom-line is if you are in the food industry, you should be pursuing PR. Why? Because PR goes a long way to add sizzle to your food business in the eye of the public.

Besides, it’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s profitable.

Got any PR secret ingredients you want to share? Feel free to leave your thoughts below or share them on our Facebook page!

How to Integrate PR with Social Media

Nowadays, being savvy with social media is crucial for most businesses. From announcing your latest promotions to finding timely opportunities to engage with customers and prospects, social media has passed from a “flash-in-the-pan” status to a substantial line-item in the marketing budget.

The real question is can you pursue a PR campaign and, at the same time, incorporate social media activities to further maximize the buzz around your business?

The simple answer is YES! But it’s not always apparent which social media tools are appropriate to the task. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you seek to expand your influence in the public:

First and foremost, make your news sticky by posting it to Facebook and inciting some discussion. Ask your followers, “What do you think of this? How will this news apply to your life?”

When you post your press releases, make them sharable with links back to your website to drive traffic, leads and higher search engine rankings. On Facebook, prompt your following to share them by Liking the post and adding a comment. On Twitter, don’t be afraid to use the appropriate hashtag (#) and at mention (@) others – this will further help your information spread across the Twitterverse.

For LinkedIn users, post your press releases on your company or personal profile. If you participate in a couple of industry Groups such as AMA Austin or Austin Tech Happy Hour, then a press release or other news shared – with a corresponding link back to your website – may pique the interest of a prospect, industry influencer or even a news reporter.

That fact is, social media and PR mix incredibly well, and you just have to know how. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Market yourself – that’s why you’re in the business, isn’t it? Your followers want to hear from you, and they want YOU to hear their ideas. Be a democracy – take advice and information from everyone; you never know who has a good idea and an interesting suggestion.

What have you done to mix in social media with your PR campaigns? Has it been successful in promoting your brand and getting media mentions? We’d love to hear from you…

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