On a recent trip to San Francisco, my son and I headed out to dinner from our hotel by foot in search of a Greek restaurant that he had found online.  After we had walked up and up and up the San Francisco streets for at least half and hour and then reluctantly and breathlessly realizing that GPS had led us astray we headed back toward our hotel looking for a decent place to eat.  With our stomach’s growling and our feet hurting we ducked into a diner outside of Union Square and grabbed a couple of stools at the counter and thought how bad could it be?

As we were waiting for our food my son quipped “This is a place depressed people come to get a cup of coffee and a piece of pie everyday, at the same time – it’s straight out of a movie.” Not a five-star Yelp review by any means but I looked around and couldn’t disagree and I’m sure it’s not what the diner owner intended. Later that night as we were recounting the scene to my husband and my son suggested they needed some good PR (he gets the son of the year award). So how can public relations help attract the right audience/customer to a business?

Public relations is a crucial piece of the pie to attracting the right customer but there are three basic steps that have to happen first. And believe it or not, you may have to spoon feed these steps to your client. In keeping with the food analogies let’s get started …

We serve food: First, you’ll need to help your client identify who they want to be. It’s sounds silly to have to review this point but we once had a restaurant client that had no clear vision of what they wanted to be and whom they wanted to target.  “A restaurant” was too broad of a category to develop an effective PR campaign.

I’m hungry:  Help your client identify their ideal target audience. Not a broad reaching  “everyone who is hungry” but a smaller group based on age, gender, location, income, lifestyle, ethnicity, etc.  This will help you to be more informed to develop and narrow your key communication messages.

I read about it on Yelp so it must be true: Find out where your ideal customer is getting their news.  Is it the daily newspaper, the local magazine, the nightly news, Twitter? Who do they trust? No use pitching the weekly rag if no one is reading it. Again this will help you to create appropriate content, narrow messages and craft your pitches.

Now for dessert: Once you have identified the above, it’s time for the good stuff and it’s where PR can help to raise awareness within your target audience. Keeping your target audience in-mind, pitch to the publications that they read, and outlets that that they watch. Engage in the social media outlets that they follow – get them to connect and listen to what they have to say and through posts and press releases improve website presence to insure increased search engine optimization (SEO). Finally, make sure to keep tabs on the industry, changing trends and new media outlets and work with your client to regularly review the target audience as it may change over time.