Launched in 2016 to adapt to the demands of the ever-evolving hospitality industry and changing communications landscapes, Bullfrog + Baum’s project-based program, LEAP, makes PR and marketing accessible, approachable, affordable and impactful for businesses of all sizes. Since its inception, LEAP has helped operators spread the word about their opening, collaboration or project in a meaningful way.
LEAP is a short-term, budget-friendly (from $5,000 to $6,600) program that encompasses three critical components: traditional media relations, direct-to-consumer communications, and digital influencer outreach, having crafted a method that has all elements working in tandem to successfully build brand awareness and generate buzz in just 45 days. The nimble LEAP team customizes strategies and tactics to match each client’s target demographics and then executes full force, acting like an in-house PR team for the project term.
Read on to see how the firm won a Bronze Award in the “Best Campaign Under $10,000” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2017 Media Relations Awards.
The Challenge: “A major challenge of LEAP is getting skeptics to believe in the power of PR and marketing. We had to create a campaign that was affordable and approachable, yet still effective in reaching the goals of our clients,” says Jennifer Baum, president of Bullfrog + Baum. “To keep the costs reasonable, we knew the campaign had to be relatively rigid in its format and criteria, but still flexible enough so that it could be customized to fit the needs of our varying clients.”
The Strategy: “In addition to media and consumer outreach, another aspect we focus on is utilizing digital influencers to support the social strategies our clients have in place. We aim to target digital influencers that are food-focused, New York City-based, and have significant and engaged followers, to really showcase how traditional PR/marketing and social media need to work hand in hand,” she offers. “We tier out our outreach so that there’s a steadily flow of social ‘buzz’ throughout the restaurant’s first crucial weeks of opening, allowing us to fully maximize all portals.”
The Implementation: “When the campaign was first developed, it only encompassed traditional media relations. Realizing that creating some noise in the social media landscape was just as important as traditional media, we added our digital influencer component. It was also important to engage directly with consumers, so we added direct-to-consumer marketing as an outreach tactic. Ultimately, as the PR landscape shifted, we too needed to evolve our strategy to be fully integrated,” Baum relates.
“Our outreach is always focused on local and hyperlocal media because those are vital to driving in local diners and helping our clients sustain business. But the momentum built as a result of LEAP extends beyond the campaign in the likes of continued coverage, reviews and sustained media interest, often beyond the local community. We’ve seen it time and time again: strong and strategic opening placements yield wider media coverage—and, while our LEAP program is specific in its execution, we believe in seizing opportunity when it presents itself—meaning that we will also present our LEAP clients for other fitting opportunities as we know this sets them up for long-term success.”
The Results: Since the launch of LEAP in spring 2016, the firm has strategically and effectively executed all-encompassing campaigns for some of the hottest openings, special projects and events, including: a collaboration dinner with Torst/Luksus (Brooklyn) and Bubbledog (UK); the inaugural New York City Hospitality Alliance Awards; the second and third locations of fast-casual eatery Mulberry & Vine; the launch of a Thai concept called Don Muang Airport inside Williamsburg’s famed music venue Baby’s All Right; the relocation of 33-year old neighborhood staple, Sistina; the first-time expansion of Wok Chi (Brandon, FL), Pondicheri (Houston, TX), and Bob’s Steak & Chop House (multiple locations) into the New York market, as well as a speakeasy cocktail lounge called The Last Word in Astoria, Queens; a fast-casual Neapolitan concept called Fioro in the Financial District; and a casual seafood-centric bistro called Seabird in the West Village, among several others.
As an added value, Bullfrog + Baum also works to secure additional press separate from specific campaign efforts (when appropriate). Because of this, the firm has had many LEAP clients convert to retainer-based contracts following the program’s success.
Much of the success is due to LEAP’s unique approach to building rapport with reporters and digital influencers. “Having a core team that oversees all LEAP clients and initiatives builds trust and familiarity with the media and influencers,” Baum says. “They know that our LEAP team will be able to communicate news of openings and special events effectively, strategically, and in a timely manner. Because of this, we have become a resource for new and notable openings, a streamlined source of what’s hot on the horizon.”