How to Contact Critics and Bloggers
Here is ‘The Clear Guide Light’, a weekly column highlighting the most important actions you can take now to get your communications strategy in place.
Last week I discussed the difference between critics and influencers and now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the work of writers you know will be suitable for reviewing your restaurant, you’re ready to launch your outreach campaign.
When contacting critics or bloggers for reviews, there are some simple yet important rules you should follow, all of which is explained in my full course online, however, these are some important points to bear in mind:
- Timing. As a general rule, a food critic will only review a restaurant if it’s recently launched. An incredible number of restaurants open every week and as papers and magazines need to be timely, national food critics will focus on new restaurants. There are some exceptions – should you completely rebrand and reopen your restaurant you have a refreshed chance to be featured. There are also features like ‘Classics Revisited’ but they are few and far between so I wouldn’t focus on them if you are pressed for time. Bloggers and influencers, however, will be far more open to reviewing your restaurant even if you’re not new.
- Personal & Relevant. To increase the probability that your emails will be well received and your invitations accepted, you must personalize them. Address each writer by name and include individualized details based on what you learned while reading their work. Show them that your restaurant is relevant to their content and will be of interest to their readers. Explain why you’ve decided to reach specifically and don’t make it sound like they are part of a huge outreach campaign.
- Don’t rush. Take the time to write these emails yourself and let your personality shine through. All of this attention to detail will help you stand out from the crowd of mass stock emails that each reviewer likely receives every day.
- Creativity. You can also be more creative in the way you approach press. For one of my previous launches, we created caricature drawings of famous critics’ portraits and sent it to them alongside an invitation to dine and review the restaurant. Although this was a more expensive campaign, it worked incredibly well with 75% of the invited contacts actually visiting and writing about the restaurant. This kind of ‘stunt’ absolutely won’t be suitable for every restaurant but you get the gist: sometimes you can have fun and be creative in your approach.
- Perseverance. Once you’ve contacted everyone, if you don’t get a bite, try not to take it personally. Now may not be the right time at that particular moment, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be later. Keep track of those who say no, why, and those who don’t respond, noting to follow-up and contact them again at a later date and pursue additional outreach efforts.
- Relationships. Make sure to nurture your relationships so that your contacts begin to feel connected to you and your restaurant. Try and build a mutually beneficial rapport that will last beyond a single review of your restaurant.
Follow these simple steps and you will see more reviews of your restaurant. This increased exposure as well as the formation of good relationships with influential writers will over time translate to more bums on seats. If you want to find out more about hospitality PR, how to secure reviews and take a peek at some example pitching templates, sign up to the full course, linked below.
Andrea Klar-Nathan is MD of Clear Communications. With over 15 years of hospitality communications experience; she co-owned her first agency by 2011 which she then sold 7 years later. Her experience includes everything that’s connected to hospitality: Michelin starred restaurants, pop-ups, venues, events, even wine storage solutions. You name it, she’s done it.
For more information on The Clear Guide, please visit https://weareclearcomms.thinkific.com/courses/theclearguide.
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