Restaurant Advertising vs Restaurant Public Relations

How important is restaurant public relations to your business? Should you invest more in restaurant advertising? Learn more here.

Restaurant Public Relations Builds Credibility, Restaurant Advertising Breeds Skepticism

Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” Restaurant public relations generates news coverage, and news coverage builds credibility. The objective of Restaurant Public Relations is to tell your story through third-party outlets, primarily the media. People believe what they read in newspapers and magazines, what they hear on the radio, and what they see on television. People are skeptical of what they see in a restaurant advertisement.

Many restaurant advertising campaigns are mathematical successes and marketing failures. Restaurant advertising may reach its intended mass audience with enough frequency and still not increase sales of the product or service. The emphasis of restaurant public relations is not on reach or frequency, but the credentials of the medium and the quality of the placement.

A published article or a broadcast story on radio and television is more credible than the most well-placed restaurant advertisement. Credibility is critical. Consumers will trust a feature in Car & Driver or Consumer Reports describing why the Ford Taurus is the best in its class more than they will a slick advertisement from Ford claiming that it stands above the competition. Volvo didn’t gain its reputation of safety through advertising. Instead, it gained consumer trust through publicity from stories like its invention of the three-point lap-and-shoulder safety belt.

In an attempt to fool readers, some companies even attempt to create restaurant advertising that is designed to look like features. These are known as advertorials. Publications; however, make sure readers are aware the advertorial is paid restaurant advertising thus eliminating credibility in the minds of readers.

Restaurant Public Relations Is Not Intrusive, Restaurant Advertising is

In one of Aesop’s fables, the sun and the wind disagreed about who was the stronger of the two. They saw a man walking down the road, so they decided to settle the dispute by seeing who could make him take off his coat. The wind took its turn first. The harder the wind blew, the more closely the man wrapped his coat around him. The sun then began to shine, and it wasn’t long before the man felt the sun’s warmth and removed his coat.

Like the wind in Aesop’s fable, restaurant advertising is often perceived as an imposition. The harder the sell, the harder the wind blows, and the harder the prospect resists the sales message. Restaurant public relations is like the sun. It leads to action and produces results subtly by presenting its message through an objective third party; the media.

Restaurant Public Relations Is Cost-Effective, Restaurant Advertising is Costly

Some business executives have the wrong impression that, because it appears on television or in a slick, glossy magazine, restaurant advertising is worth the expense. History has shown that, even though a commercial may have entertainment value, it doesn’t move consumers to purchase the product. People enjoyed the sock puppet, but apparently not enough to purchase their pet products online. David Leisure was funny as Joe Isuzu, but his comedic advertisements did not cause a rush to Isuzu dealerships.

Versus advertising, a news feature in Forbes or Fortune builds credibility, positions the company as an industry leader, and generates awareness without costing a penny.

Restaurant Public Relation’s Life Span Is Longer than Restaurant Advertising

To the typical consumer, an ad is like a butterfly. Its life span is short-lived. This isn’t the case with restaurant public relations. A well-placed story can reap benefits for an extended period. The fundamental restaurant public relations strategy is to place a story in one publication and move it up the ladder to another magazine or newspaper or transfer it to another medium such as radio or television. A story can also be sent down the ladder. For example, an article in the Wall Street Journal often later appears in smaller publications, further enhancing the story’s effectiveness.

When determining whether to spend your marketing budget on restaurant public relations or restaurant advertising, weigh the importance of credibility, cost-effectiveness and a positive corporate image.  Though your restaurant public relations campaign may not be as expansive, the figures show that in the eyes and minds of consumers, what they see and read in the media has more of an impact and is more viable than what they see and read in advertisements, making the phrase, “Restaurant advertising you pay for, restaurant public relations you pray for,” fact and not just an old adage. High-volume restaurants, chain restaurants and leading supplier companies looking for cost-effective marketing should first consider restaurant public relations as a tool.  Effective restaurant public relations can create record sales for your company and often for less than the cost of a single newspaper ad or billboard.

If restaurant advertising isn’t working for you, strongly consider appropriating 15% – 30% of your total promotional budget on an effective restaurant public relations campaign.  You’ll find both short-term and long-term gains from this approach that will have a positive cumulative impact far greater than traditional restaurant advertising approaches.