Who's coming to dinner: Restaurant PR
by Hanna Moore
At PRSSA National Conference this year, I was happy to learn more about public relations in the restaurant industry at Who’s Coming to Dinner: Restaurant PR from Linda Roth, founder and president of Linda Roth Associates, Inc. In addition, Roth is also a publicist and writes for Food Service Monthly’s “latest dish” column.
Linda Roth’s background
Roth began the session by speaking about her experience in the restaurant and hotel industry. Her first job was in a disco, where she wrote its newsletter and learned about promotion, community relationships and working with the media. Her experience at the disco led her to working for Champions restaurants and sports bars to translate its restaurant-bar concept into a program that could multiply across the country. Roth stressed the importance of including all relevant experience on your resume, even if it does not seem important — like organizing events for a fraternity or sorority.
“Every single part of it is reflective,” Roth said.
Is restaurant PR for you?
“If you can tell me every TV show that is on Friday nights, we’re probably not going to hire you,” Roth said. People who work in the restaurant PR industry like to go out on the weekends and would rather go out to bars, clubs and restaurants than stay in.
Campaigns Roth has worked on
Roth’s typical week
“If I had a typical day, it would be two days in the year that are the same,” Roth said. Working in an agency has not calmed down too much, but it is manageable because she has enough people to work with her to be her support team.
Del Frisco’s CityCenter DC opening launch:
This restaurant opening fell at the same time as many other high-end restaurants. Roth developed a press kit made up of press releases, fact sheets, bios and headshots, menus and photos/renderings of food to distribute to media contacts. She used social media, as well as traditional media, to promote the event. The social media posts were planned one month in advance and were then given to corporate to post. Roth said that it is important to be aware of what is going on in the area and in the world because you can’t keep content flowing without addressing what happens in the the world.
The first step in planning an opening party is to establish a budget because not all restaurants will want a big party. Then, research to find a core group of other restaurants in the area. Reach out to local officials and ask the mayor or another well-known personality to cut the ribbon. Send out invitations. Send out a media alert to highlight any personalities who will attend. The number one thing after the event is over is to collect the press clips.
“We have to be the first to get the press clip to the client,” Roth said. “If we’re not the ones that send them the clip, they think we had nothing to do with it.”
I found this session interesting and very informative. Prior to it, I had not learned very much about the restaurant PR industry, but I was instantly intrigued once I saw it on the schedule. Even though I don’t think I will pursue a career in this sector of public relations, I still enjoyed hearing from a professional about her work in the industry.
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