by Katharine Branham - Archive of Katharine’s Articles
Over the years, I have watched restaurant owners drop their life savings into their dream establishments and never think to hire a publicist. For example, just last year, a beautiful restaurant opened nearby with art and materials flown in from Italy. The price of hundreds of thousands in decoration and a well planned menu were not out of the question to launch this diamond. I was never notified this place had opened. The only way I knew is from driving by and stopping to peer in through the windows as construction progressed. The best way to have gotten word out would have been to contact every food critic and trade rag in town -- but this was never done, and the restaurant closed just 6 months after opening. A publicist might have been able to save the venture or at least offer a lifejacket.
A good publicist is usually a basic necessity for any restaurant. There are many different ways to promote a business and if handing out ‘buy one get one free’ coupons works for you, then you may not need a publicist. But I’m referring to ‘sit down dining experiences’ that most proprietors hope will become an overnight hometown sensation. That being said, most every successful fine dining establishment in major cities like Chicago and New York has a publicist.
If you choose to invest in a publicist, keep in mind that you will first need to do some research and find the best talent for your needs. Just like buying a car or finding the perfect restaurant location, you’ll need to shop around for the right publicist to launch you into the winner’s circle of fine dining. If fine dining isn’t your category but having the local hotspot is, you will still need a publicist.
I suggest asking for references and finding out how they plan to promote your business. Then hand-over the responsibility and focus on your restaurant. There is plenty for a restaurant owner to do without having the worry of promotion work to contend with.