PR is about so much more than sending press releases to a newspaper. Many small restaurant and café owners tend to view PR as something fluffy and intangible. Others want it desperately, but they don’t know where to begin.

PR, public relations, means having qualitative relationships with important stakeholders. If you manage these relationships in an effective way, they’ll generate a cohesive and positive image around your company. There are many ways of achieving this – it all depends on your resources, time and interest. Having a clear PR strategy will definitely help you to drive your business forward and “own” the image around your brand. And just to be clear: all PR is NOT good PR.

Understand what PR is today

Traditional PR is pretty much based on the notion that the journalist is a passive receiver waiting for your precious information update. The truth today is that it’s very difficult to get anywhere if you don’t have good connections and stories that are truly newsworthy.

Assess your PR strengths and weaknesses

Think about why you’re considering to start working with PR. What are your expectations, resources and time? If your writing skills are terrible – do you have the resources to briefly hire a PR specialist? If not, could you start small-scale and create a basic visual presence on Facebook and Instagram, or maybe Pinterest or Periscope? Maybe you’re much better at building relationships? Consider having a goal of meeting 3-5 journalists each year, build long-term relationships and take it from there.

Images are (almost) everything

Always have relevant visual material in high resolution available. This way, you’ll be able to “control” the images that are spread in connection to your business, avoiding old or unwanted ones to be circulating. It might seem like a big investment, but you’ll really benefit from having a few professional images with different themes taken by a photographer. Is money an issue? Could you hire a student at a great school of photography?

Adjust the pitch

When creating your pitch to someone, use a short text containing an effective summary with your key messages. Where’s the relevance for the journalist? For the readers? Make sure to tailor-make it to the person and media channel you’re reaching out to – what special focus does the person have, what does he or she usually write about? Do your homework, and never ever send a generic pitch.

Make use of current events

Stay curious and up to date around food trends and trending conversation topics and try to connect your messages and business to it. Is matcha latte a trending phenomenon on Pinterest? Make sure to serve it at your coffee shop and publish tasty (and Shrek green) images on your Instagram account.

Embrace the bloggers

If a blogger or Instagrammer is contacting you, it’s a great sign – your business is obviously interesting enough, and they’re giving you the opportunity to get visibility in their own channels. Now, swallow your pride and offer a free meal or two. If you’re able to establish a good relation with this person, you could have an ambassador that will reach people directly in your target group, hopefully in a personal and inspiring way. Priceless!