Restaurants are good at fostering love. They provide the site for many a marriage proposal, the spot for the most common Valentine's Day activity, even the favorite place to take mom on Mother's Day.
But finding their own perfect match — especially when it comes to agency relationships — can often leave operators feeling like Willie Nelson, "lookin' for love in all the wrong places."
It doesn't have to be that way. Most public relations providers to the restaurant industry are more like Frankie Valli -- we "can't take our eyes off of you." That doesn't mean we're love-struck puppies. We just love telling our clients' stories to the public, building buzz for great restaurant brands and bringing customers in the door.
But like dating, fostering that "lovin' feelin'" starts with choosing the right partner.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Gian Gonzaga, the chief researcher for eHarmony, the popular online dating site. He gave some advice to love seekers: "The more honest you can be with yourself, the more likely you'll find someone who complements you. If you are unsure of who you are, or fake who you are to attract someone, the harder it will be to find a perfect match."
Sadly, PRHarmony hasn't been invented (yet), but the underlying philosophy of searching for a perfect fit is the same. A restaurant operator will find PR love with an agency that embraces its company values, has a clear understanding of the vision and has a shared interest in success.
Not everyone achieves this kind of match instinctively. We've all seen someone go after the pretty young thing or the big man on campus only to discover they have nothing in common. It can happen in agency relationships too, but companies can avoid the trap by thinking carefully about their goals well before starting a search.
These goals can vary from a one-time project like publicizing the opening of a new location to a long-term goal of capturing share of voice from competitors. A company president may want to raise his or her profile through speaking or byline placements, or a company may want to build social media engagement. Public relations agencies can help in all aspects, but each firm has a specialty. By identifying their goals early in the process, operators can attract the right type of agencies in their search.
However, before embarking on an agency search, consider these other critical factors:
Of course finding a match is one thing, keeping the match another. But as in any long-term relationship, open lines of communication can lead to some great results. We'll touch on that in a few weeks. Until then, stop "looking for love in all the wrong places" and instead believe, as Celine Dion did, in the "Power of Love."