We had an interesting client problem arise last month that the Speak Social team was able to turn into a media win. We also learned quite a bit during the process of solving this problem about new tactics in the old PR game. We thought this story should be shared, and hope the lessons can be used by others.
The client is (or was, as you’ll learn by the end of this story) Black Forest Biergarten, a German-style restaurant and pub opening in Dallas. The owners are a married couple who owned a previous Dallas bar and wanted to create something new in Dallas from scratch.
So we initiated our typical pre-launch Social Media campaign:
- Daily Facebook posts teasing the future opening (set for March 2014)
- Multiple daily Tweets teasing what Black Forest will have to offer
- Weekly Instagrams of the build-out
- Ads targeted to Dallas “night-lifers” and Dallas Press/Writers
- All posts driving people back to the new website for more details
The Dallas community (and specifically its press and online influencers) responded well to the new German concept.
So March is quickly approaching, and our soft launch is to take place within the month. We hadn’t formally announced plans yet for a Grand Opening event, the owner’s wanted to run things for a month to “work the kinks out.” Oh boy, did we hit a kink.
On March 7, the owners of Black Forest Biergarten received a certified letter … something that no business owner wants to see in the month before officially opening. The letter stated that around the corner from their new bar was a 40-year-old German Bakery named Henk’s European Deli dba. Black Forest Bakery and that company sought legal counsel to ask our bar to cease and desist the use of the name, Black Forest Biergarten.
As it turned out, the bakery is generally known around town as Henk’s and they never filed paperwork with the state to own the name Black Forest, which is how our client was able to capture the name. However, the bakery had (legitimate) concern that this new venue would drastically decrease the business they have relied on for 40 years. So, while we had logos and signs and SEO everywhere, we knew that we couldn’t start a relationship with a community by knocking out the local institution … at least not the kind of honest business we were trying to build.
Ultimately we worked with the owners to brainstorm new name options, and decided on The Glass Boot Biergarten. It had charm, and traditional German routes, and allowed us to serve BIG beers in glass boots!
It felt good to do the right thing, but now is where the real work needed to begin.
While the owners went about changing logos, ordering new menus, buying new cups, building new signs and basically changing everything … we went to work changing THE INTERNET. All that fantastic buzz we built needed to be started anew.
This is the lesson we wish to instill upon anyone handling marketing for a brand. When times of hardship are upon you, turn to your online fans, influencers and local media and be the first to hand them the true story.
The very same day that we released the PR, we saw the response that we hoped for from the contacts we had worked so hard to cultivate during the pre-launch.
As we worked on putting out the news of our name change (and updating every login, username and handle … not particularly fun), we debated internally how to handle the needed Grand Opening launch. At this point, the bar had been open almost a month – and already survived a name change – it didn’t seem reasonable to throw a general “hey we’re open” party. It was pretty clear that we needed to thank the Press & Online Influencers by throwing a private VIP event. After all, they were the ones who carried our voice to the people, especially after our message changed so drastically.
So we made the target invite list for a private VIP party based on the following strict parameters:
- Person had written about us for a Dallas news or online publication
- Aggressively supported our message through Social Media posts and shares
- Talked frequently online about: Dallas, food, beer, nightlife or German culture
- Had a Klout Score & Social following that reflect “Influencer Status”
Each target invitee received the following personalized invite:
Personalized VIP Invitation
The response was overwhelming!
People who couldn’t go recommended alternatives to attend in their place:
Hi, Stephanie –
I’ve been so curious about Glass Boot but have yet to make my way over, so it pains me to say that the party directly clashes with my birthday party that same night! If there’s a way to work out a media visit on another day, let me know, I’d love to cover the spot for Zagat. I’d love for you to give my invite to Steven Doyle over at CraveDFW.com in my place. Thanks!
In the end, we had 90% response to our invites, and 75% attendance of the party. Both on and off-line the party was a huge success and generated the buzz we needed to get us past the unfortunate Name Change Debacle of 2014 … and it will forever be known.
We even received some additional press out of the event:
Dallas Food Nerd VIP Event Blog
— maddi masino (@maddimasino) April 20, 2014