Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love in a cold economic climate presents both challenges... and public relations opportunities

Morgan PR has been generating publicity for a terrific French restaurant in Newbury, West Berkshire this week and in the way we have helped Le Petit Square there may be lessons for other businesses who are finding winning the affection of customers during the recession.

The key is that the media - this story has already been taken up by newspapers and radio - are constantly looking for new ways to interpret the recession at the moment and if you can find a way to promote your business within this context then it is possible you can create powerful public relations.

So while it may not be the most scientific assessment of the recession, but Le Petit Square is reporting that while loved up diners visiting on St. Valentine’s Day were still gazing dreamily at one another... they were simply spending less money.

Suzanne Hemchaoui, who founded the popular restaurant four years ago, explained: “Valentines is always a huge night for us – for any restaurant – and we could have booked out 10 times over, but there is no doubt the recession is biting. People were spending less on their menu choice, and choosing to drink Champagne by the glass rather than the bottle.

“The French food, the wine – people see it as romantic anyway and St. Valentine’s Day can often bring out a grand gesture or two, with engagement rings being flourished or we are asked to drop a sparkling ring into the Champagne glass – but this year? Non!

“Chatting to some of our regulars, there are couples who are delaying their wedding because of the credit crunch and on St. Valentine’s people left much earlier than they normally do and some were talking about ‘getting back to the babysitter’, which also suggests cost cutting.

“Across the board we are seeing fewer people and they are spending less. The corporate trade that would see businesses coming in for lunch has certainly reduced. That said, we are lucky and we do have a loyal clientele.

“Our hearts were lifted recently after Gordon Ramsay appeared on his TV programme stood in front of a branch of Strada somewhere, and urged people not to visit anonymous chain restaurants, but to opt for the local independent restaurateurs – like us! That actually brought in lots of business and we saw a surge of people coming in and they were talking about it.

“An independent restaurant like ours, with all the benefits of original menus and the flexibility to respond to our customers, does find it difficult to cope with a chain restaurant in much the way a corner shop struggles to compete with Tesco. We have to offer more and we are certainly not being glum about it – we are currently planning an ‘Allo Allo Night’ for May 1st, which will be a blast and we’re hoping to stage some French film nights too.”

What do you think?

The hard news angle is there - people spent less money on St. Valentine's Day at a romantic French restaurant. In reporting this, the restaurant is named, its plans are revealed and a competitor is knocked - by Gordon Ramsay!

A recipe for revenue generating PR - in a recession from Morgan PR!

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