The Cheesecake Factory, an enormously popular casual dining restaurant, was scheduled to open at Menlo Park Mall, capping off a renovation of the mall and a period of retailer turnover that brought in several new concepts and more upscale stores. We viewed this as a great opportunity to generate some excellent publicity in a variety of different media venues within the local trade area that would benefit both the mall and the new restaurant.
Since we needed the cooperation of the restaurant for the program to be effective, we took a chance and e-mailed the senior vice president for marketing whose address we found on the company Web site. He was very open to our suggestions and we immediately put our plan into motion. The first step was to set up a media sneak preview day about a week before the restaurant’s opening where local reporters were invited to come see the menu, sample the cheesecake and conduct interviews while watching the intensive training the restaurant provides its employees. Working with the senior VP and local staff we arranged for “goodie bags” to be given to all media that attended the sneak preview. Inside each was a menu, fact sheets on the company and a nine-inch cheesecake. We handled the media advisory and distributed it to all local outlets, pitching different sections of each daily and weekly paper as well as the electronic outlets to maximize coverage.
The overwhelming success of the sneak preview event set the stage for additional media opportunities in the days leading up to, during and after the restaurant’s grand opening, including booking the chef live on local cable news morning shows to do cooking demonstrations. The key factor in the positive results that were generated stemmed from our ability to reach a high-level executive within the company who recognized and appreciated our contact base and track record with the local media. In fact, the lasting impressions that were created with the media continued producing positive publicity for the restaurant and the mall for well over a year after The Cheesecake Factory opened.