How to secure reviews for your restaurant – Part 1

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.

So far, we’ve looked at how to write engaging press releases and successfully secure press coverage, and we’ll now move on to how you can get your restaurant reviewed. Reviews - in the right media - are an integral part of any restaurant PR campaign.

As this is such an extensive and important area, I’ve divided this chapter into two parts and there is even more information in the full course online. This week, we’ll look at what you need to do to prepare your restaurant for reviews and next week I’ll explain the difference between a food critic and a blogger / influencer and discuss the most effective ways of contacting and inviting them.

But before I get started I want to clarify why reviews are so important. 

Getting a mention or being featured can help generate great buzz and gain new supporters for your restaurant. But the most impactful coverage you can achieve is a review. As the owner of a restaurant or any food-related business, really, you should do whatever you can to get word of your venture out to as many people as possible. If your food business receives a positive review on a credible blog or publication, this tells readers that the food, service, and atmosphere are exciting enough that the writer, someone whose opinion they have come to trust, recommends it. In fact, 70-80% of internet users ignore paid advertisements. An even higher number of millennials, 84%, don’t trust traditional advertising and are almost three times more likely to be influenced by blogs and social media sites.

Let's go through the steps of how to get reviewed by a food blogger, food writer, or food critic at your restaurant. Like most things in life, whatever brings the biggest reward needs more work and effort. Securing a review by a well-known critic or popular blogger isn’t easy, but if you’re persistent and you prepare your business well, it will happen.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “any publicity is good publicity”? You can completely ignore this when it comes to restaurant reviews. The fact is that a negative write-up will really hurt your reputation – readers make up their minds immediately and you might not get a second chance to change it. So, before you put your restaurant forward to be reviewed, you’ll want to do the following in order to maximize customer satisfaction: 


Polish up your operational processes and ensure your quality control is up to scratch.
Really put some work into your menu design, ambiance, and branding.
Have a well written “about” section and intuitive “contact us” pages on your website and social profiles.
Make sure your location is easily visible and up-to-date on your website and social media pages.
Provide customers with detailed information when there are any unexpected closures, delayed openings, or - if you own a food truck or pop-up - last minute location changes.

Give yourself time to get everything under control, iron out any kinks, and resolve any issues before you invite any industry influencers to visit your food business. Most reviewers will write about their overall experience, not just one aspect of it. 

Once you have done all of the above and you are happy with everything, you can begin to work on actually contacting writers.

Join me next week where we’ll go through how you can actually pitch and secure reviews. 


Happy communicating,