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Extending the Life of a Story: How Mainland Helps Clients Keep that PR Momentum Going

Clients Sylvan Learning and Lightbridge Academy have gained even more traction from public relations wins thanks to strategies implemented by Mainland.

It’s a celebratory moment when a brand is featured in a major news publication or outlet, and Mainland works hard to help its clients gain even more juice from those wins.

Brian Jaeger, Mainland’s Vice President of Media Relations, says that any kind of placement is a huge advantage for brands who want to make sure they are reaching their target audience.

“The opportunity that exists in today's technological age to extend the impact and awareness of a great PR hit is incredible,” Jaeger said. “Back in the day, when you got a nice headline in the local newspaper or coverage on TV, you were basically hoping that people picked up the paper or tuned in to the local news at the exact moment your story aired. However, with nearly all media outlets having an online presence - and many trading in the physical version of their publication in favor of a robust online presence - brands have more opportunity to reach those who could become customers.”

Jaeger added that social media offers brands the ability to target audiences by geography, age, interests and other demographics.

Mainland is always all about connecting the silos and knowing there is a breadth of different options to leverage a PR win, Jaeger said.

“We have the 1851 platform, so if they have a sponsored content brand page they can repurpose PR wins and use our AMPD program, which uses social media to narrowly target and focus on the target audience,” Jaeger said. “There are also social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We also work with our clients on newsletter and email campaigns where you can take a strong media placement and put that out through an email list to potential franchise prospects. Our clients appreciate that we are able to not only secure the PR placement, but also help them take it one step further to get the most impact. Year after year we’ve honed and improved upon what we’re able to do.”

Beyond social media, he said, brands can take the opportunity to repurpose their PR wins on their websites and blogs and through content marketing platforms like the one offered on By doing so, these brands can ensure the story lands in front of the franchise candidates who would be the best fit for the brand.

“There are more options digitally available to take that link and put it in front of people,” Jaeger said. “Now when you get that PR win you can put together a solid strategy to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to leverage the impact of the third-party validation that earned media provides make sure it’s reaching the widest audience possible, and, more importantly, the right segment of that audience.”

One example is when a brand gets a big national piece, they can use that as “a launching point” and put out content from the founder or CEO to elaborate on what was in the story or write a thought leadership piece on the next steps for where they’re heading, Jaeger said.

“There are two sides to the coin,” Jaeger said. “You are creating awareness for people who don’t know that your business exists but at the same time it’s a great validation piece, so when it comes to people who have tried it and liked it, you can enhance their loyalty.”

The way Jaeger and Mainland see it, no PR win is too small to celebrate.

“Brands like Five Guys have done a great job of using PR wins to literally wallpaper their restaurants with validation,” Jaeger said. “With a franchise model, any good press - even if it's specific to one market or franchisee - is also good press for the brand overall. Consumers want to feel good about their purchasing decisions. The validation of positive PR helps them make that decision but also makes them feel good about being a customer of that brand. The same is true for franchise candidates, as well.”

For early education and child care franchise Lightbridge Academy, Chief Marketing Officer Brenda Febbo noted that when the brand does have public relations wins and sends them out to franchise prospects, they are letting them know about what’s going on with the brand and “keeping them on the forefront of any innovations or expansion” taking place.

“Just having that regular metronome of communication with new information, not just marketing to the franchisees or prospects, but actually providing them with something that they didn’t know about the brand from a third party is extremely valuable and…has increased engagement,” Febbo said.

Febbo pointed to a “beautiful spread” about a Lightbridge Academy franchisee in Entrepreneur magazine that was picked up to be re-run for another issue.

“The relationships that Mainland has formed have enabled us to get those placements and for us to remain top-of-mind to editors and reporters and the press at large,” Febbo said.

The results of that strategy as they relate to franchise development, Febbo said, is that not only has the brand been able to activate what they might have considered to be dead leads by presenting news articles on the brand, but it’s also helped Lightbridge Academy add value to what they provide as a franchisor to their franchisees.

“Being able to send out that newsletter, being able to show them the press, whether it’s on a local or a national level, helps to reassure them and to create value for what we’re providing as a franchisor and how we’re managing our brand fund and how we’re developing and growing our brand awareness as we expand,” Febbo said.

Indeed, it’s not just about reaching out to prospective franchisees. It’s also about providing validation to the existing system, Febbo said.

“The value of PR is not just for the public-facing value or even building the brand,” Febbo said. “There’s our external customers but there’s also our internal customers and that PR that we receive helps to solidify to franchisees and even our own team that we’re moving ahead, that the right things are happening.” She added that the recognition and engagement the brand receives “really helps to fuel and provide energy to our brand and to our team and franchisees.”

For Mainland client Sylvan Learning, the 1851 platform has been a huge help to the supplemental education brand as it has battled negative online press and extended the life of public relations wins. Sylvan Learning Vice President of Franchise Development Georgia Chasen noted that the brand is unique in the sense that it has longevity and has been a market leader for decades, and so “there is opportunity for competitors to come in and take market share.”

Sylvan Learning, Chasen said, needed to adjust to current, modern times. There was a period of time, she said, where the information that was available digitally about Sylvan Learning included more negative commentary than she would have hoped for when searching online. Extending public relations wins has given the brand more chances to put positive information in front of prospective franchisees.

“The strategy that Mainland and 1851 took was to create very positive, truthful editorial content that targeted objections that we could see online, concerns that maybe had been posted, and really showcase the growth that we have seen, the very hard work we’ve put in to updating the brand and making sure that Sylvan was relevant and a leader in the industry,” she said. “That was our long-term vision. Tactically, we then had to take those stories and push them to an audience that would get excited about the future of Sylvan. And so there’s a combination of not just using stories to introduce the new Sylvan franchisees and to overcome any problem articles that were out on the web but it also allows that information to live on and push down any negative stories that one may have found online previously.”

Chasen said the results of that strategy have been very exciting, and that it’s been incredible to see the growth of Sylvan Learning by attracting new franchisees who are looking at both undeveloped territories as well as resale opportunities.

“I also like to take those same articles and send them to candidates as questions come up,” Chasen said. “We have a library of content that is very persuasive, very real and helps to provide validation from our franchisees without having a candidate call that same franchisee 100 times in one month. We’re able to share it digitally with both the written word and with pictures.”

In an age where brands have so many communications platforms at their fingertips, it’s important to note is that a public relations win doesn’t have to end once the article has been published or the segment has been aired - and it shouldn’t. By leveraging that win and putting it out as much as possible to target audiences, not only can brands improve their online footprint, but they can also attract quality franchise candidates.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.