Every franchise has a story to tell, but without a strong PR strategy, that story may never reach your audience. PR helps the brand authentically connect with your audience, increase your visibility and elevate your credibility, keeping your brand out of the advertising abyss.
If you haven’t given any serious thought to your PR efforts, or you aren’t seeing any positive results from your current efforts, here are six PR strategies you can implement right now.
Understand the evolution of Influencer Marketing
In the age of social media, influencer marketing can be your PR secret weapon – especially for a franchise. This tactic allows you to reach a large yet targeted audience through an authentic personality that your consumers already trust. By partnering with an influencer, you can engage users with creative content through various social media platforms. It’s worth spending the time to identify the right influencer – one whose demographic and style align with those of your brand – and build a relationship with them. Keep in mind that there is some crossover between PR and advertising with influencer marketing, as many influencers require compensation or at the very least, complimentary product or services.
Create a reliable crisis management plan and process
Every franchise will encounter some kind of crisis sooner or later. A crisis can be something as seemingly small as a negative social media comment that goes viral, or as major as the recent Massage Envy scandal. What’s important is how you react, how you respond and how you get the world to move on as quickly as possible. Preparing a strategy before the crisis hits is vital. When disaster strikes, no matter what shape or form, you need to have a proven process in place that will keep you focused and help you bounce back quicker. Importantly, make sure your crisis strategy includes step-by-step actions for how social media is handled.
Create valuable content, not ads
PR is not advertising in the traditional sense. Your PR strategy should focus on creating content that brings value to your audience, instead of shoving your product or service in the face of your customer. Create inspiring content that converts your target audience into loyal followers and regulars to your franchise. Invest in a strong creative team to create the articles, stories and videos that your audience wants and needs. Then, deliver that content through the right channels and publications that your audience regularly consume. This strategy will naturally help with your search engine optimization efforts, too.
Repurpose PR wins and engage with your audience
The real power of PR is rarely in the moment as a story runs. It’s really in how well you repurpose and reshare that piece of third-party content with your target audience. This could be through your blog, social media, email marketing, and more. Learning how to expertly disseminate your content through several channels will increase your views and reach a broader audience, all with a single story. You can also continue to revisit your favorite PR wins as often as you’d like by reposting them. As a franchise, don’t be afraid to re-share positive news stories from your brand in other markets or locations. This is still relevant news to your customer and will help achieve more interaction and engagement on your social media outlets.
Give traditional press exclusivity
Opening a new location, adding a new service, or expanding your current location? No matter the news, if you know one key outlet that absolutely MUST cover a story for you, go to them first and offer them the exclusive. In doing this, you commit to not sending the idea to anyone else until that outlet either publishes the story, says “no” or doesn’t respond within the period of time you’ve given them. Be sure to give the outlet plenty of advance notice to cover a breaking story, and be clear on your timeline up front. Once the story runs, you are free to pitch to all of your other target media or distribute on the newswire.
Leverage video content through social platforms
With proposed changes to Facebook’s timeline algorithm currently underway, video content reigns supreme on social media, but you don’t have to invest in costly, high-production videos in order to make a splash. Take advantage of organic, live video tools on Facebook and Instagram. Live videos allow you to engage directly with your audience increasing your transparency and authenticity. This will build an amazingly loyal fan base that you can’t replicate through other mediums.
In the end, remember that PR takes time, patience, and persistence.
Melissa DiGianfilippo is the co-owner and president of public relations at Serendipit Consulting, where she leads the firm’s clients’ public relations and communications efforts including traditional media relations, crisis communications, internal communications, community outreach and more.