In early 2005, Freebirds operated nine locations in Texas and wants to open 14 more by the end of 2006. It wanted to expand within its current markets, into other areas of Texas, and eventually beyond the state's borders.
Freebirds' challenge: battling competitors owned by corporations with huge marketing budgets. It knew that to stand out it would need to expand its message beyond its traditional points of differentiation.
Freebirds worked with BlabberMouth to design a media relations campaign to raise awareness of Freebirds while helping it develop a strong position in each of its communities. "We're helping them open up new markets and generate visibility for their new stores," says Patti Hill, BlabberMouth president. The campaign focused on communicating Freebirds' allure to diners, its viability in each of its current markets, and its philanthropic activities.
BlabberMouth used two primary tactics to generate media coverage: organizational news publicizing the company's accomplishments and activities, and leveraging trade publications' need for editorial calendar topics. Hill says each article the PR campaign generated had to include two key messages: Freebirds' tagline, "It's not normal"; and its mission, "To be the best damn burrito experience in the world."
The chain launched six new stores and "substantially increased its customer base" in the past year, Hill says. "In the first six months alone, media coverage exceeded expectations for the year by more than 200%," she says, and included cover stories in Austin Business District and Fast Casual.
BlabberMouth created a 2006 PR plan for Freebirds and is working on creating a thought-leadership position for COO Alan Hixon "on a national level through trade publications," Hill says.
PR team: Freebirds World Burrito (College Station, TX) and BlabberMouth PR (Austin, TX)
Campaign: Freebirds World Burrito restaurant chain promotes expansion of franchise
Duration: January 2005 - ongoing
Budget: $40,000 annually