How to Build a Franchise PR Strategy to Elevate Your Brand

Franchise PR Strategy

3 Ways Public Relations Can Boost Franchise Visibility in 2024

Operating a franchising company can be one of the most rewarding business models available in the United States. After all, becoming a franchisor means that you’ve not only been successful in your own business, but you’ve built a model that can be replicated, bringing success to like-minded entrepreneurs.

But creating buzz around your company’s products or services can be like walking a tightrope. On the one hand, you have to create enough brand visibility so that your franchisees will have the recipe for success in their individual markets, but you also have to have a positive reputation and enough brand awareness to draw in franchisees in the first place.

Unlike other businesses, you must market your company to two sets of customers: those who buy from your franchisees in their local markets and entrepreneurs who want to invest in your company as franchisees.

That’s why you need a marketing plan that increases your brand awareness for both audiences. The best way to accomplish this is to build a franchise PR strategy to elevate your brand visibility and set you apart from your competition.

1. Thought Leadership Articles

If you’re like most people, when you set out to purchase goods and services, you do an internet search on those items to see which brand has the best reviews and reputation. But building a positive reputation doesn’t always come quickly or easily. It can take years to be considered a reliable and responsible company that leads the industry in innovation and customer experience.

One way to build that positive reputation is by positioning yourself and your employees as the experts in your market. Studies have shown that the vast majority of business decision-makers say that thought leadership encourages them to engage with certain brands. 

Issuing a press release to the news media or offering to write a guest article or byline on timely topics in your industry’s most popular trade magazines will elevate your standing in the market. For example, if you own a chain of home service companies, you can always opine about new refrigerant regulations or emerging technology in the HVAC industry.

But this can be hard to accomplish without a specific PR strategy. 

An experienced public relations team can help you identify the publications where your opinions will have the most impact and can help you craft your message by writing press releases or bylines on your behalf. These articles not only draw attention to your brand, helping you recruit viable franchisees, but they also trickle down to local-level owners, helping them draw customers to their franchises.

With the consumption of thought-leadership articles on the rise, your franchise can’t afford not to provide expert advice in your industry.

2. Philanthropic Initiatives

As younger generations become the primary consumers, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become more than just another buzzword. According to the global management consulting firm McKinsey, more than 70% of Gen Zers interviewed say that they want to do business with a company they see as ethical and willing to give back to their community.

Chances are you probably already donate to some causes but have never thought of promoting that aspect of your business. Or perhaps your franchisees hold events to raise money for nonprofits in their local markets.

It used to be considered ill-mannered to tout your charitable giving. But in the modern era, being seen as a socially responsible organization is as much of a consideration for new consumers as your product or service is. But you do need to avoid becoming too self-serving when you promote your philanthropic endeavors. Making sure your cause aligns with your brand, getting buy-in from your employees and giving in meaningful ways should always be considerations when choosing a charitable cause. The end result needs to be a win-win for you and the organization, and not just another way to get attention.

Your PR strategy needs to include your franchisees, as well. In many organizations, the individual franchisees will develop relationships with the nonprofits that best represent their particular interests or values.

By promoting both the headquarters’ CSR goals and spotlighting franchisee philanthropic contributions, your franchise organization will have several opportunities to improve its positive visibility through press releases, social media posts, and national and local news coverage. Locally, being present at community events helps your franchisees connect with their community and get to know their potential customers.

3. Third-Party Validation

One of the best ways to become more visible in 2024 is to be featured in a news story written or aired by a third party. In the digital age, companies have access to a variety of outlets where they can connect with their audiences. Consumers can choose between social media, blogs, websites, and company-produced videos to learn information about your company or its franchisees.

But the most trusted media are still third-party outlets. News presented by impartial reporters is considered far more trustworthy than any advertising a company can buy, so it’s important to build relationships with the media that covers topics in your industry. A poll taken just before the pandemic showed that more than nine out of 10 customers trusted earned media while only about 50% believed the content of paid ads, according to Entrepreneur.

Franchise PR Strategy

If you opt to partner with a PR team, you should choose an agency with established media contacts within your industry. Their media relations professionals will know how to pitch you or your leadership as experts who can speak to the topics at hand. If your franchise wants to become more visible in 2024, carefully consider the messaging that represents your brand. As a franchisor, your visibility not only affects your corporate office but can be beneficial to your franchisees.

Start 2024 out strong with a solid franchise PR strategy, and you’ll see growth in both your brand awareness and your franchising business.

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For nearly two decades, Heather Ripley has developed and managed public relations campaigns for the skilled trades and construction (plumbing, HVAC, roofing, electrical, fireplace maintenance, architecture, engineering firms, etc.), B2B SaaS tech, Contech, Fintech, and franchise industries. As the CEO and founder of both Ripley PR, and Orange Orchard in Maryville, Tenn., she has a passion for helping business owners thrive. Before opening Ripley PR in 2013, Ripley served as a marketing and public relations manager and director for companies like Clockwork Home Services and CAP Brand Marketing, where she honed her skills. Growing up in a blue-collar family, Ripley learned about the worth and dignity of the trades early on. Her father was an automotive collision technician, and her grandfather was a truck driver.

When she opened Ripley PR, she took what she had learned in PR and coupled it with the experience of growing up in a family of skilled tradesmen to turn Ripley PR into the nation’s No. 1 PR agency for the home service industry. In 2018, Ripley opened Orange Orchard, a division of Ripley PR. With this division, Ripley is dedicated to promoting cruelty-free, vegan, and earth-friendly businesses and foundations, helping them build a brighter future. In 2021, Ripley released NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for Your Home Service Business through Advantage/Forbes Books. The book is an in-depth collection of actionable takeaways for home service contractors to implement public relations strategies into their marketing campaigns and take their business to the next level. She is also a contributing author for PHC News and Entrepreneur magazines.

Ripley PR was recently recognized by Forbes as one of America's Best PR Agencies for 2021 and has made Entrepreneur magazine's annual list of Best PR Agencies for Franchise for the past five years. Ripley is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate. She is co-owner of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Foothills in Seymour, Tenn. Specialties include public relations and brand marketing for the home service industry, franchises, tech, B2B and construction industries, crisis communications, strategic planning, media relations, media training, social media and content creation. Ripley PR Inc. is a partner in IPREX, one of the largest global networks of PR agencies, with 120 offices, 1,800 staff and $260 million annual revenue. We have partner agencies throughout the world to help you reach a global audience.
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