Getting Press Coverage for your Pizzeria
Don’t you get frustrated when an article comes out about a rival pizzeria? Doesn’t it burn when another “Best Pizza” list ignores your existence? Do you feel completely helpless when it comes to all matters of press and public relations? Getting media attention is a daunting project, especially when you’re busy dealing with your shoddy ovens, dough issues and the broken refrigeration unit. It takes time and persistence, but once you get the ball rolling PR efforts can be a great asset.
The first thing you want to do is decide what story you want to pitch. Your local newspaper probably won’t publish a story about your pizzeria just because it exists; they want an angle. Maybe it’s your pizzeria’s 25th anniversary or you’ve created an incredible new menu item. Community events are great opportunities to attract media attention. When Slice Out Hunger ran the Pizza Across America campaign in February, we provided pizzerias with a story to pitch to local media outlets about participation in a nationwide campaign to support hunger relief efforts. Small independent pizzerias got press coverage because of it!
Next, you’ll want to pitch your story to the right person. Check out the bylines of articles about other local businesses, particularly restaurants. If you’re pitching to TV, look for the producer’s contact info online. You can check LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Journalists don’t hide their contact info because they want to be found. Their job is to write stories and fill airtime. The newspaper gets printed even on slow news days, and they must fill the pages with something — why not with your pizzeria?
Once you find who you want to pitch, send them a tight e-mail with the who, what, where, when and why of your story. If your story is time-dependent, like an anniversary or event, make sure the date is clear. You can’t go wrong with sending it a few weeks in advance; just make sure you follow up, otherwise you’ll get lost in the pile.
If a journalist schedules a visit to your pizzeria, be sure to give them the best possible experience. Plan a couple shots so they have options when they show up. Know the talking points of your story (the who, what, when, where, and why) so you won’t be caught off guard by questions. If you’re camera-shy, pick someone who isn’t! You control everything that happens in front of the camera, so take advantage.
Most importantly, be easy to work with. Make their job a breeze and they’ll come back to you when they need a story source in the future. Don’t turn into a primadonna just because you’re in front of a camera. Make sure the crew is comfortable and happy so they’ll want to come back.
If this all sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. That’s why you have the option of hiring a publicist. If you do, you’ll gain access to their contacts…so make sure you choose someone who has plenty of experience and has placed stories you covet. Keep an eye out for red flags like bad communication skills in e-mail and over the phone. If they’re bad at communicating with you, imagine how they are with media producers.
An article or TV segment about your pizzeria will benefit you for years. Online publications don’t go away, and they’ll help boost your website’s SEO if they link to you. The right quote can serve your website and menu, and the right clip will give potential customers a glimpse into the deliciousness that awaits when they cross your threshold.
SCOTT WIENER is the founder of Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City and SliceOutHunger.org Instagram: @scottspizzatours