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Social Media, PR and Pizza: A Case Study on Local Community Building

As a digital marketer, I am always on the prowl for the best ways to increase website traffic for my clients, get them ranked higher in search results, create a social media buzz and, ultimately, more foot traffic into their businesses.

Getting a business involved and meeting the needs of a community is a sure fire way to do just that. Let’s explore Belles Creative, and the social media and PR buzz they were able to create for one of their clients, Pure Pizza – Central Avenue, by connecting with the community in a real and needed way.

Before we dive into what Belles Creative did to create all the social media and PR buzz, it is important to get the back story. Before the owner of Pure Pizza, Juli Ghazi, even opened the doors for business she knew that her business success was dependent on how she connected with the community and met their needs. She made meeting their needs part of her business model.

What Did Pure Pizza Do to Meet the Needs of the Local Community?

​Juli studied the area where they were opening the business, the other businesses in the area, and who the customers were that would be potentially visiting their establishment. And this is where Pure Pizza brought a national topic to their local community and addressed the need.

What was the need? Gender neutral restrooms so that all of their customers would feel welcome and comfortable during their dining experience. Pure Pizza went the extra mile and posted a notice on the bathroom door as to why they felt it was so important to have gender neutral restrooms in their establishment. Some of the reasons they included were single mothers or fathers, the LGBTQ community, and those with elderly or disabled family members.

While Juli’s intention was solely focusing on serving the community, it managed to garner major attention after one of the customers, Larken Egleston, took to Facebook to share the restaurant’s restroom policy with one of her groups. The post rapidly gained popularity with over 2,500 likes and 700 shares on Facebook.

What Did Belles Creative Do to Leverage the Social Media Buzz?

One of the most important components of a digital marketing strategy is monitoring the brand for any reputation management opportunities and Belles Creative did just that. When they saw that Pure Pizza’s gender neutral restrooms was something the community wanted to talk about, they put together a digital marketing strategy that would frame the conversation to benefit the client.

Building on what had already being said about the restroom addition, Belles Creative pulled together an official press release about the story and why the owner decided this was such an important issue for her customers. Popular media outlets got wind of the story and it quickly turned into national headlines on The Huffington Post, USA Today, and Fox News.

The story quickly went viral and spread across more than just the local community but nationally and internationally. A mom from Ireland posted on Pure Pizza’s Facebook page thanking them and saying she is sharing the story in her community as well. Will that woman in Ireland pop into that pizza restaurant in North Carolina? Not likely. But her enthusiasm and sharing will encourage more businesses to think how they can serve their community locally and bring new customers through their doors.

How Did This Get More Business for Pure Pizza?

People want to support businesses that are doing great things, especially in local communities. The more people in the community that talked about Pure Pizza and their gender neutral restrooms, the more people had to go see it for themselves and meet the owner of this restaurant.

I was able to get a quote from Juli about how business has been since all this buzz started and this is what she had to say, "Last week was the busiest week we have had since we opened." She continued by saying, “feedback from around the nation has been very, very positive and, as the decision picks up more attention, there has been a noticeable shift in support of this option being more readily available.”

Mandii Green, the owner of Belles Creative, also made herself available to discuss the story and she summarizes the success by saying this:

Pure Pizza was able to connect their brand with ‘real-life’ – including their customer’s unique needs. As the social media and creative firm representing Pure Pizza, we had to get their message out. Not only is it an interesting story, but people latched onto it because it shows how this business is making positive changes in the community and connecting with customers on a more personal level. The personal touch is what consumers are looking for these days.

The goal we should all have for each client is to help them develop and communicate their brand voice in every aspect of the business. Pure Pizza's commitment to stewardship & sustainability are at the heart of their business, and that message is reflected through the decisions they make.

How Does This Story Help Me to Create a Social Media and PR Frenzy for My Clients?

I know you are probably thinking, “Great story, but how can this help me better serve my digital marketing clients?” All this success was created for Pure Pizza because of three simple things:

  1. Pure Pizza put their local community first.
  2. They had a team in place to monitor and manage their brand.
  3. They worked together to make the customer the priority.

What Can You Do to Help Your Clients Get This Type of National Attention?

  1. Help your clients find a cause that is near and dear to them and the local community.
  2. Get others talking about it online.
  3. Write about it, share about it and empower others to do the same.

I started the article by saying that my goal, just like yours as a digital marketer, is to increase website traffic, get clients ranked higher in search, and ultimately get more foot traffic into the business. So how did this story make that happen? It’s simple really. The more Pure Pizza is talked about online the more business they get offline. The more business they get offline, the more reviews they get online, and the higher they are ranked in search results. And the cycle continues to repeat.

What did you learn from this story? How are you going to apply it for your clients? Let’s discuss.  

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