Ohio Restaurant Association

Leveraging Earned Media to Promote Safe Dining and Drive Restaurant Traffic During COVID-19

The Project

The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) is a member-based organization serving Ohio’s restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it created significant challenges for Ohio restaurateurs as they navigated capacity issues due to social distancing requirements, lower sales, higher costs, financial losses and talent pool issues, among others.

Inspire worked with the association to prepare the restaurant industry for a successful recovery and reopening while positioning ORA as thought leaders through placements with statewide and trade media.

Inspire’s work included:

  • Developing a comprehensive strategic plan, including messaging and tactics for communicating with key audiences
  • Drafting frequent news releases and media alerts highlighting new data from ORA members on restaurant sales, closures, etc.
  • Working with print and broadcast media to coordinate one-on-one stories about what restaurateurs were experiencing
  • Drafting and placing timely op-ed columns and letters to the editor
  • Pitching national restaurant trade media on how Ohio restaurants approached COVID-19 and what the recovery process looked like

The Results

  • Secured hundreds of media placements in statewide print, radio, TV and business publications, such as Columbus Business First, Cincinnati Enquirer, WTVN-AM, WEWS-TV, WHIO-TV, NBC4, etc.
  • Placed op-ed columns and letters to the editor in top Ohio media publications, including The Columbus Dispatch and Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Provided template talking points and messaging materials for ORA members
  • Increased restaurant traffic and encouraged safe dining practices through promoting ORA’s various campaigns and programs, including Ohio’s Restaurant Promise, Dine Safe Across Ohio Week, Pizza with a Purpose, Restaurant Blueprint for Recovery and the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund