When you have a thriving business with a solid business plan, it’s only natural you’ll want to duplicate that success and franchise. And when one brand booms, competition is sure to catch wind and follow suit. With over 750,000 franchises in the U.S., it’s important to distinguish your brand against the competition.
Sure, you may have the better burger or the least-expensive membership option, but what’s the perception of your company among consumers and potential investors? A solid franchise PR strategy not only sets the tone for brand image, but can accelerate media engagement, increase social media presence and shape local community involvement.
Here are the top five ways PR support is vital to both growing and established franchises:
Increase Brand Awareness for Future Franchisees
Creative campaign strategies and consistent brand messaging are the foundation of any layered PR approach. We like to dive into a company’s core values and differentiators to set the stage for a national business story. Be prepared to open up about your company history with your PR team: Did you start your franchise after being laid off from your job and decide to follow your travel passion with a tiki-hut-inspired smoothie store? What’s it like being a husband and wife team co-driving a go-cart company? Did you accidentally create a recipe you dubbed the best chocolate chip cookie ever and decide to franchise your bakery? Do you have a kick-ass employee perks program?
Growth stories and new location openings are great news hooks, but being able to stay relevant on a national level outside of the news peaks and valleys is the key to consistent brand recognition.
Bottom line? The more unique your story, the more fun we have telling it, and this brand elevation heightens your appeal to both potential investors and franchisees. The formula is easy: brand recognition = more leads = more sales and projected growth.
Supplement National Marketing Efforts with Impactful Local Coverage
Whether your franchise is national or region-specific, it’s important to establish a “local feel” for your brand in every location. Many consumers state they prefer to keep their money within their local communities. Targeted hyper-local media campaigns increase the connection consumers have with your company and make them feel good that they’re keeping business in their neighborhoods.
Do you partner with a local school to give back funds during pre-opening tastings, or participate in annual parades or other sponsored events? Partner with an agency that has established relationships with local reporters and allow them to offer VIP invites to events, coordinate morning broadcast interviews or assist with giveaways. This visibility within local markets is equally as important as national brand presence and helps you remain relevant.
Develop a Loyal Fan Base
Expanding on the local feel, franchises that get involved with local communities see increased brand loyalty from their customers. Tips for getting involved include positioning franchisees to host or speak at local meet-ups, developing a brand ambassador program with loyal customers or encouraging employees to volunteer and give back.
Strong and profitable businesses know it’s more than just the bottom line, it’s about creating an end-to-end relationship that touches every aspect of the customer journey.
Establish a Crisis Communication Plan
PR disasters happen and we’ve seen it all, from CEO heart attacks to uninvited eight-legged friends in a burger. Proactive crisis communication and reputation management planning is crucial for franchises, as failure to prepare can result in harm to stakeholders, organizational losses or worse, closed doors.
The impact of a scandal can have a wildfire effect, so preparing a plan of action ahead of time alleviates many last-minute challenges for unexpected news. Partner with a PR agency that can help you build out a solid plan to utilize during times of crisis and a road map when those situations occur.
While it’s impossible to protect yourself from every crisis, practice and update crisis management roles, processes and best practices to ensure all communications staff know what to do in a crisis. This can minimize the impact of a crisis – or prevent one altogether.
Drive Social Media Awareness and Growth
There are many ways to simply get your name out there, but targeted social media campaigns are imperative to building your brand authority. Investing in social media allows you to reach new followers and build brand reputation.
Facebook is a great platform for engaging with customers, while Twitter is the perfect spot to show the personality behind your brand. LinkedIn is a stronger choice for promoting business-related content, while blogs are also a helpful way to spread a message and increase SEO for your website.
Each piece of content shared should support your brand image – and don’t be afraid to use visual content. Have fun and collaborate with your PR team to create useful content that viewers want to share rather than cranking out content to meet a marketing quota.
Grow your franchise and sharpen your brand image with a solid franchise PR strategy. We’ll help you increase media engagement, get involved in the local community and build your brand on social media. Don’t hesitate to reach out and speak to one of our experts!