One way to think of PR is reputation management. But why is this important in the realm of franchise marketing? A simple answer is that it boils down to trust, like most business.
Digging deeper, we can also see that strategic public relations efforts can build credibility among consumers, as well as help prospects find your franchise opportunity and show them what makes you different from your competition. That’s all easier said than done, which is where a PR professional can help grease the wheels of your brand’s reputation and support lead generation for your sales funnel.
The secrets of great franchise PR include some perennial approaches to the way we do business.
Earned Media is Far from Irrelevant
Some people would think that in the digital age, earned media with TV spots and newspaper coverage has gone the way of the dinosaur in its effectiveness, but in fact it’s still one of the most effective ways to reach the community and build brand visibility and a positive reputation.
Just consider, people are more likely to click on a news story than on an ad, so in the age of internet connectivity, a news story still ranks higher in online visibility and trustworthiness. Advertisements are designed to sell, so prospective franchisees will naturally be more skeptical of franchise ads that they know are designed to persuade them. However, when a prospect sees a news story with a trusted journalist talking about your brand, it has more heft.
Consider too, that earned media does still extend into other forms of digital media, including popular blogs and podcasts. Pitching all forms of media takes a dedication and expertise, which is what you get when you partner with an agency that understands franchising. Getting the media’s attention is just one part of the job; the other is making sure your media skills are honed before speaking to journalists. At our agency, we like to make sure all franchise executives are media trained so they always make a good first impression.
A PR pro should also know which journalists and media outlets are best for your brand, and it helps to have former journalists on the team to make the pitch process seamless and strategic.
Not All PR Agencies are Created Equal
Many PR agencies are generalists, and simply don’t understand the unique needs of franchises or otherwise aren’t up to the task of meeting those needs. I used to manage marketing in franchise development for a franchisor with three franchise brands, and it seemed like we were constantly interviewing for a PR agency that “got” us.
We know that growing your franchise count can be frustrating at times. We take the long view with our strategic planning process to get the word out about your franchise opportunities.
PR is built on trust, but unfortunately many firms in the industry try to be a one-stop-shop for all businesses, and the watered-down approach often leads to failure. We recommend selecting an agency that understands your industry but doesn’t also represent your competitors.
One of my philosophies as a business owner is to partner with clients that are trustworthy businesses as well. With this approach, we feel comfortable putting our reputation on the line to say with confidence, “We’ve got your back.” We work hard to build mutual trust in our business relationships; with this foundation, we can help grow your brand’s strategic PR goals.
Franchise Brands Can’t Rely on National Reputation Alone
Finding new prospects might seem like a breeze if the franchise has a really strong reputation for taking care of its franchise owners.
We live in a fast-changing world, and staying competitive means staying current with marketing trends, potential client demographic data, and local economies.
We believe that apart from the national brand, each franchise owner has a local story to tell. A PR agency can help position your franchise executives as industry thought leaders, secure valuable media placements nationally for the franchise brand, and locally for the franchise owners, and craft a compelling human story around your business to generate brand visibility and loyalty.
Our team is standing by to help your business grow in ways that meet the demands of today’s media savvy prospects and consumers. Whether you want more speaking engagements, press releases, media interviews, or fresh content on your website, we help franchise brands like yours not only reach the desired audiences, but also position you as a leader in your industry.
Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in franchise. Ripley PR has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency three years in a row and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. She is the author of “NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business.” For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com.