The food and beverage industry and public relations go together like peanut butter and jelly. Whether you’re trying to get a new wine brand off the ground or rejuvenating the image of an established gourmet restaurant, targeted communications in food and beverage PR campaigns can create excitement about your product, help you break into new markets, avert negative attention, solidify your brand’s story, and accomplish a whole host of other goals.
The importance of food brand PR and the diversity of its forms has never been greater than in 2021. With the projected growth of the industry, the various social media channels PR can flow through today, and the amount of digital information consumed per day by the average person, opportunity is absolutely everywhere. Nonetheless, you may not have encountered these ideas before; you may be out there wondering What is food PR? Why should I make it part of my business? Allow us to break down these broad questions into some tasty slider-sized answers for you.
What is Food and Beverage PR?
Food and beverage PR is nothing more complicated than the use of strategic communication in food and beverage industry. That strategic communication might manifest as a press release, a series of social media posts, a recommendation from a social media influencer, a traditional ad, or a broadcast media news story featuring your business.
The goal of a PR campaign is to get a message — in this context, probably “buy X food” or “drink X beverage” — to the audience that will best receive and act on that message. Food and drink PR can approach this one goal from many angles. Maybe your brand would best be served by a campaign that appeals to prestige, for example if you operate a high-end restaurant. Maybe your brand is less upscale but has enough history with consumers that you can go after people’s nostalgia (for reference, see just about any CocaCola ad aired within, like, eight months of Christmas). The only limit on effective PR is your own imagination; it is a multifarious way to connect with patrons and business partners alike.
Consumers today, whether consciously or not, would likely regard the absence of PR material from a company as a bad sign, if they were even aware of the company’s existence to begin with. With almost all businesses making efforts to show themselves as likeable, trustworthy, elite, or worthy of business for some other reason, your silence could be deafening.
Also, the food and beverage industry often falls victim to the kind of misfortunes that make a crisis communication plan imperative for any successful business. If your brand suffers a blow to its reputation, a quick, skillful bit of food & drink PR could mitigate much of the damage that might otherwise result. Remember the Wendy’s finger-in-the-chili hoax? A customer tried to extort money from the fast-food chain by claiming to have found a severed human finger in her chili. The allegation was false; nevertheless, Wendy’s lost an estimated 21 million dollars in the fallout from the incident. Imagine how much worse it might have been if they didn’t have PR help!
Building a Food Brand with PR
Using PR communications in food and beverage campaigns to build your brand can, and probably should, involve multiple prongs, multiple forms of expression. Unless your goals for your food brand PR campaign are very narrow, diversifying your message across platforms will probably net you better results than a unidirectional approach. Moreover, in terms of better SEO rankings, new customers, and increased revenue, a unidirectional approach will likely take longer than an approach with multiple prongs does to get you the same bump. There are of course any number of ways to get a message out to the public, and no two businesses or instances of food public relations are identical, but in general we would say the following areas are good places to put your energy:
This refers to recommendations, praise, etc., by third parties whom the audience will not see as having a vested interest in the success of the business they’re talking about.
Can you simplify your brand’s story so that it can be conveyed in a tweet? People tend to respond well to pithy and idiomatic communications.
Newspaper and TV news might be struggling to find their place in the digital world, but the public still looks to them for the stories that matter.
If you can attach your brand to a trending event, you’re going to reap rewards in terms of visibility.
Let’s look at how you can attack these in a food & drink PR campaign.
If you can get someone other than you talking about your business in a good way, it goes further than highlighting the business’s strengths yourself. This is the basic idea of earned media, which in comparison to traditional ads raises fewer alarms with jaded consumers unimpressed by companies’ displays of self-interest. As an example, personal recommendations mean a lot to people when choosing a business to patronize, and online reviews are almost as good. Take some time to think about how you can cultivate third-party involvement in your food PR efforts, and you’ll be happy you did.
Any micro-influencers (people with between 10,000 and 50,000 followers on social media) you can think of who might be game for a partnership? These kinds of arrangements are a thriving marketing move in 2021, one worth adding to your strategic communication in the food and beverage sector.
Also, you can dial up the flair on your own social media accounts! We’re really singling out Wendy’s in this article, but have you checked Wendy’s Twitter account lately? It’s a lot of fun, and a case study in developing your brand voice through the platforms we all frequent every day.
Pitching stories to reporters in broadcast news agencies is a tried-and-true method for PR of all kinds, including food brand PR. Think about what topics and issues the reporter’s audience would want to hear about, and connect that idea to an achievement, event, or promotion that concerns your business. Shaping your pitch this way gives you a better chance of earning a spot in their coverage.
The right hashtag on the right social media post at the right time can be solid gold. If there’s a story in the digital media spotlight with some relevance to what your company’s doing, put out a piece of PR that will funnel search traffic from the primary story to you, and you’ll capitalize on a wave of short-term enthusiasm, raising your brand’s visibility significantly, if only for a few days. Communication in food and beverage campaigns is just as much about timing as about tone.
Consult with the Food & Beverage PR Experts
Excited by what you’ve just read? Ready to embark on a food PR adventure of your own, with a partner who has the experience you’re looking for? Our door is always open, so reach out here!