Ballin’ on a budget part 3: The PR perspective

Jane Ryan

08 June 2018

Following on from Ballin’ on a Budget parts i and ii, Alex Chatwin from LX PR shares tips and hacks on how to get your fledgling bar noticed when your marketing budget is smaller than your tips jar. This wasn’t part of the original TOTC talk but an interesting perspective to add to the discussion

What you can do without an agency

‘Getting PR coverage is harder if you’re doing it by yourself but there are definitely things you can do without an agency to try and get your bar into the press.

‘One thing you can do if you’ve already launched and that initial news of being a new bar is gone is build a local support network. Local tourist offices, airlines and local hotels all have an equal interest in promoting your area. Contact your local tourist office and find out when or if they are hosting journalists in your city. If you can offer to host the press, perhaps complimentary, then there’s a chance they’ll bring them to your venue over another.

‘When approaching journalists it’s worth remembering they’re very busy and don’t always have time to seek out a story. If you see a magazine you’d like to be featured in, it’s always worth dropping that title an email and inviting them in.

...just because it’s easy to tell industry peers what you’re doing it’s reaching the consumer audience that’s harder to do.

‘Bars sometimes forget they can leverage brand partners as well. Having done PR for drinks brands, we are always looking interesting cocktail serves that use that brand – if you have a cool cocktail, making sure that brand team knows. Leverage their PR and contacts.

‘A great example of this was with Silent Pool gin who recently did a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time. Harvey Nics had created a special cocktail that used the gin and celebrated the show so we were pushing that to press, and ended up getting a lot of press coverage on the drink for Harvey Nics.

‘If you don’t have a large budget make sure you’re running your social media account well – it should be a shop front for consumers. With the drinks industry, because it’s so easy to network and communicate with one another, don’t forget that just because it’s easy to tell industry peers what you’re doing it’s reaching the consumer audience that’s harder to do, and that’s where PR comes in.’

Where an agency helps

‘With PR agencies, part of the reason they exist is because PR is time consuming.

‘Approaching titles themselves and getting through as a voice when they’ve never met you is difficult. PRs, day to day, are constantly having these conversations and building relationships. If you’re launching a new bar the PRs know which publications and journalists to reach out to, to ensure there is a lot of noise about the opening.

‘Once you are open, journalists know certain PRs look after various bars and brands and will reach out when they want to get examples of a style of drink or bars, so you become part of that ongoing conversation and the press keep you at the front of their mind.

‘When you work with a PR agency, a lot of getting press is to do with timings. People are most interested in you when you’re new and an agency is good for making sure the right messaging is in place which can communicate what you’re doing.

‘To stay relevant, and once you are open and established, PRs should be coming up with creative ideas, initiatives and events to get you consumer traffic and titles.

‘Agencies have a pool of clients as well which can easily be partnered up, such as bars and brands, optimising a shared voice for both of them.’


While you're here…


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If you don't already know, Imbibe Live is the innovative and interactive annual exhibition for anyone who sources, buys or serves drinks in the licensed on-trade. From sommeliers to buyers and from managers to publicans and bartenders, this essential date in the drinks calendar will see the industry’s finest come together.
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