In Blog, lessons

Denny’s Adds Digital Ordering to the Menu – Fortune 

This news from South Carolina-based Denny’s seemed nothing more than a commercial message. Yet the restaurant chain managed to generate massive media pick-up from news outlets including FortuneCNBC, and Delish.com.

So what can we learn from this press release from Denny’s?

What Works:
  • Strong News Hook. “For more than 60 years, Denny’s has been feeding America whatever they want, whenever they want it. Now, with ‘Denny’s on Demand’ fans can order the diner food they crave, wherever they crave it.” This is how the Denny’s press release starts, raising the impression that readers are witnessing history in the making. Comparing the Past versus the Present is a writing technique often used in journalism. It’s an easy way to build a narrative, create a notion that something big has changed and illustrate impact.
  • Powerful Messaging. Today, many brick-and-mortar chains enable customers to order food online for delivery at their doorsteps, so Denny’s news is not unique. Still, Denny’s managed to give its announcement a nice twist, and the marketing team probably had something to do with it. The release strongly focused on the benefit for customers to enjoy their favorite food wherever they want it – “whether it’s pancakes by the pool, burgers on the beach or coffee on the couch”. As simple as it may sound, this narrative was adopted by many media outlets including Delish.com, which said you can now enjoy Denny’s pancakes even when you’re drunk.
  • Multimedia Campaign. Denny’s created a set of short, catchy videos that support its narrative: “Pancakes at the neighbor’s pool? YEP”, “Lunch 70 Stories Up? No problem.” The restaurant chain made it easy for fans to share these videos via social media. Also, Denny’s warmed up its fans by sharing teasers on social media in the run-up to the announcement. Its messaging went down well with fans. One Twitter user said: “Breakfast in bed for everyone! Denny’s is now on-demand”
What Doesn’t Work:
  • Buried Superlatives. Denny’s is one of the first companies to use a new ordering functionality through Twitter. They could have highlighted this superlative more. The same goes for the introduction of new packaging, which was buried in the sixth paragraph. Fortunately, CNBC picked up on this by stating that Denny’s plastic containers are “the real hero” of the chain’s new service because it prevents the food from getting soggy.
  • Lack of Substance. Denny’s made a bold statement in its headline “America’s Diner reimagines online ordering”. They should have backed this up more. Although this news is a big change for Denny’s, how is its delivery service any different than other online ordering services? Also, the press release doesn’t contain any background or data that journalists could use for their stories. For example, Denny’s could have cited customer research or provided growth numbers for the US delivery market.
What We’ve Learned: Listen to Marketing but Beware!

Usually we advise press release writers not to listen to their marketing colleagues too much because of their focus on selling products and services. But this is the exception to the rule. The “world is your diner” messaging and the catchy videos that supported this theme helped turn an otherwise boring product announcement into a compelling press release that garnered massive exposure. That said, Denny’s could have done even better by providing more substance and highlighting its superlatives. So press release writers, even if your marketing colleagues have a good idea, don’t let them walk away with your release.

Check out Denny’s press release here and let me know in the comments section below why you think it was so effective and what lessons you will likely apply in your next press release.

Alex Armitage is co-founder and CEO of Publiqly, whose Workflows help small and mid-sized companies write press releases that journalists and bloggers can’t ignore. Were you forwarded this post? Sign up to receive our weekly press release lessons directly in your inbox.

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