Guest Blogger: Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
You can offer the best catering services, from top quality, creative menus to flawlessly smooth event days, but if no one new can find you, your business will never grow.
Handling your own publicity can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are relatively easy steps you can take to evaluate your publicity needs and promote your services. You simply need to know where to start.
What Is Already in Place?
First, audit your business’ existing public presence including your website, blog, awards and press mentions, if applicable. If a customer encounters you today, what would he or she find? Is it consistent with your branding and effective at converting traffic to leads, or do you need to make updates
Your website is not only your first impression for most prospects; it is a valuable resource to colleagues and media contacts who want to know who you are. It should include a bio, a portfolio of your work, press mentions, awards you may have earned, and testimonials from past clients. Once you have a solid web presence in place, you can turn your focus to attracting traffic through publicity.
Review or Set Goals
Next, make sure you have clear goals for your publicity efforts. Whom, specifically, are you trying to reach? What do you want to happen when they contact you? Are you trying to increase bookings, improve the quality of your prospective clients, or expand into a new territory? Your goals will guide you to the types of media outlets that will reach your intended market, so it is important to know what you want.
Create a Media Wish List
Next, make a list of the websites, blogs, podcasts and other media that you wish to attract. If the list is long, narrow it down further to outlets that would appeal to your idea client. Store the list in a spreadsheet with the contact information for each editor so you can move swiftly if you get wind of a publicity opportunity.
Craft and Send Pitches
As exciting things happen in your catering business, share them with the media using well-crafted press releases and pitches. You can also offer to weigh in on hot industry topics as a field expert, and even as a guest speaker. The more credibility you build, the easier it is to attract attention to your business.
Measure Your Progress
Even when you handle your own publicity, there is a real cost to you in terms of both time and money. If your efforts are working, you should be generating new leads regularly and booking enough business. That is time and money well-spent. Conversely, if you’re not realizing the kind of traffic you hoped for, something needs to be adjusted.
So how do you know if your publicity efforts are paying off? Collect data and regularly review your Return on Investment (ROI). Record your press and social media mentions, as well as your website traffic. You might also record the number of new vendor partnerships you’ve formed, speaking invitations received, or pitches you’ve had accepted by editors. The amount of exposure you earn should show a correlation to new opportunities. Over time, you will gather enough data to compare your performance from year to year and adjust various factors to get your closer to your goals.
While this only scratches the surface of undertaking your own publicity, the above tips will certainly get you started. Don’t miss out on any opportunities. Get started today.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.