Case Study: Larkburger

Client: Larkburger
Services: Public Relations, Social Media
Industry: Hospitality

In Denver, fast casual concepts face stiff competition. Larkburger needed to stand out from the crowd, and enlisted Sprocket to help them do just that. Over five years and ongoing, Sprocket has used PR and social media tactics to build awareness of the brand and what it stands for, aiming its efforts at millennials and young families—Larkburger’s target demographic—in particular.


Larkburger engaged Sprocket Communications in 2012, with a goal of driving awareness and trial in Denver’s competitive fast-casual market. Initially, Sprocket was tasked with running public relations and media campaigns; social media strategy and execution came a year later.


In an effort to educate the public on Larkburger’s fine dining roots, healthful ingredients and environmental sustainability, Sprocket developed strategy, pitched, and continually followed up with virtually every relevant local, regional and trade publication. That outreach manifested in a number of creative ways: hosting influential media, including USA Today’s Larry Olmsted and 5280 Magazine, in-restaurant; media drops at local TV stations to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day or to promote new Larkburger menu items; and targeting relevant verticals, such as the gluten-free and Paleo communities, to spread the word about Larkburger’s gluten free menu items and Paleo-friendliness. The team pitched angles including store openings, Paleo and gluten-free menu items, innovative new menu items (including Larkburger’s use of the ‘torchon’ culinary technique on its tuna burger), the brand’s fine dining background and more.

In March 2016, the time came to announce Larkburger’s expansion to Kansas City, the brand’s first out-of-state market. With that location slated to open in Spring 2017, Sprocket executed its first round of media outreach to KC-area locations in March, with substantial coverage and media interest.

In developing Larkburger’s social media strategy, Sprocket first looked to Larkburger’s target demographic. Ideal Larkburger guests are well-educated millennials or young families who value high quality ingredients and a low environmental impact. Knowing that, Sprocket crafted messaging around those brand pillars that spoke to the target demographic, including content about Larkburger’s environmental sustainability and ingredient sourcing.


The outreach led to coverage in USA Today, BBC, Thrillist National, 5280 Magazine, and virtually every other publication in the Denver market — with each story reinforcing Larkburger’s brand promise and messaging.

The strategy around the Kansas City launch brought in media hits, too; Sprocket earned hits in the Kansas City Star, Denver Business Journal, Kansas City Business Journal, Kansas City Sun Times, Denver Eater, and more, totalling 17 media hits in the KC and Denver markets and in trade publications in its first round of pitching. And those hits had a direct correlation on visits to the Larkburger website. During the first half of March, before Sprocket launched the campaign announcing Kansas City, daily visits to the Larkburger website averaged 678 per day. In the two weeks following the announcement, which launched March 15, the daily visits to the website averaged 708. And on April 8, the day the Kansas City Business Journal story ran a story about the expansion, Larkburger had 788 sessions on its website — a 16 percent increase in traffic over pre-announcement web traffic.

Sprocket’s management of the Larkburger social channels made for impressive results. Facebook content that Sprocket curated and created totaled more than 1.1 million impressions, bringing the brand’s page to more than 17,500 fans. Sprocket also established an Instagram following of 1,700 fans, and amassed more than 3,800 Twitter followers. Knowing that Facebook in particular is a pay-to-play channel, Sprocket complemented its content strategy with monthly advertising spends on Facebook, which boosted impressions and grew audience numbers. In early 2016, Sprocket handed over the reins to an in-house Larkburger social media manager, having established a solid following online.