I found the January issue of Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine in my mailbox today, sent by Patricia Luebke, the freelance writer who interviewed me for the story she wrote on restaurant publicity.
The article includes a sidebar on how to please the media, with an interesting tip from Craig Gilbert—freelance writer, food lover and author—on the best time to contact the media if you’re opening a restaurant.
He says he wants to be contacted up to a week before the opening.
“Why? I will probably forego the dog and pony show of the grand opening. That is time for all the family, friends, rump smoochers and all-too-serious, attention-starved, ‘legitimate’ food writers to gorge themselves on the splendor and spotlight. Leave that for the writers who are there to scoop the world and read their own byline and not honestly taste the meal. I’ll be there very soon after, when all the hoopla and glitter has been swept away and the food has had time to relax. Then it is more real and very often, more tasty.”
That’s great advice. Grand openings are no time to showcase your food in hopes of getting a great restaurant review. Besides, restaurant reviewers usually visit unannounced, often incognito, never letting the restaurant owner know they are there.
Publicity Tips for Restaurants, Chefs & Foodies, a recording of a teleseminar I conducted last year, advises restaurant owners to start forming strong relationships with the media before they want something. And that doesn’t mean offering free meals. It means being willing to pitch interesting story ideas, alerting them to food trends, offering background and commentary, and talking about how you’ve found solutions to things like knotty service problems.
Position yourself as a great source, feed the media exactly what they need, and they’ll be back for seconds.