Read Lindsay Jones’ latest article in the October issue of Franchisor News
Identify and review objectives and key messages
Devote as much time as it takes to work out what you want to get out of PR and identify the key messages you want to communicate. Aim to end up with one to three key themes that you believe make your franchise stand out from competitors, position it within your marketplace and engage with like-minded potential franchisees.
Review your positioning and key messages at least once a year. As businesses change and evolve so will your messaging.
Who’s the audience?
PR isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity. If you are clear about your target audience, it is far easier to develop campaign themes and devise an effective strategy for each group. For example, how you promote the franchise opportunity to potential franchisees will be very different to the way you promote your brand to customers.
Review your marketing material
You only have one chance to make a first impression, so carry out a full review of existing marketing material and collateral. This is particularly important if you are not aware of exactly what is being sent out to prospects by your recruitment department. Gather up all of your leaflets, promotional items and brochures together and take a critical look at the presentation and content. Imagine you are a potential franchisee looking at this collateral for the first time. Is the visual impact and messaging consistent? Are you using the same colour scheme throughout with a common typeface or has the marketing pack evolved into a random collection of stand-alone items? Invest in new collateral if necessary and ensure all supplies of out-of-date material are shredded.
Google your own brand to see how a prospective franchisee will see you. The latest bfa/NatWest research shows that the franchisor’s own website is the most effective way to attract prospects. Make sure your messaging is current and that if you have a ‘latest news’ section you post new stories or blogs at least once a month to enhance engagement and keep prospects on your site for longer. Out-of-date news reflects badly on your franchise, however dynamic the rest of your site may be.
If you subscribe to online directories or franchise recruitment sites, ensure that the information about your company is up to date and that you post regular good news stories. Check the case studies within your paid-for section – chances are that you will not have updated them since they were first uploaded several years ago. Update and refresh regularly ensuring the case studies align with the type of candidate you are looking for now. Your criteria may have changed as your model has evolved.
What are your competitors doing?
Google your competitors to see how they are positioning themselves and the PR activity they are carrying out. Identify their messaging and see if you need to change or tweak yours to differentiate and enhance your brand within the marketplace.
News channels – don’t dismiss print
While online coverage is instant and more widely available it is also easily forgotten and not read in the same way as a print magazine or newspaper. Print coverage in the right publication establishes credibility and can be used for marketing purposes long after the article has appeared. Getting the right balance between online, social media activity and print is crucial to successful PR.
Engage at the most senior level
To be successful, the PR activity must align with your organisation’s strategic business goals. This means that the franchise owner or relevant board member should be directly involved in setting the PR objectives and work closely with your in-house marketing team or external agency. Delegating the PR tasks to junior staff without giving them access to top-level thinking will be reflected in the effectiveness and quality of your PR.
Agency or in-house?
Whether or not you manage your own PR depends very much on what in-house resources you have and your available budget. There are pluses and minuses on both sides, but if you don’t have time to manage your own PR presence on a regular basis then outsourcing may be the best option. As with making any buying decision you need to take the time to find the right PR provider for you and your brand, and then be prepared to work with them proactively to ensure you get the best out of the investment.
PR support for franchisees
Many franchisors are good at promoting the brand and the franchise opportunity itself but what help do you provide for franchisees wanting to promote their business locally? PR is one of the most effective ways to publicise a product or service within the community and offering help with local PR can add considerable value to your franchise proposition
“Devote as much time as it takes to work out what you want to get out of PR and identify the key messages you want to communicate”
Share your PR successes
Don’t forget to make the most of PR successes. Unless you draw attention to coverage and positive publicity you have achieved, how will prospects and existing franchisees know about it? Send out copies of your best coverage to prospects and share links to online items through social media. Make sure links or references to any media coverage is on your website. Retweet favourable customer comments and don’t overlook franchisees when it comes to sharing PR successes. It gives you another reason to engage with them and they may be able to make use of it in their own marketing.
Categorised in: General news