Public relations isn’t an exact science, and it never will be. Yet as the world becomes more digitally savvy and brands are armed with more data than ever, the opportunity to approach PR through a scientific lens has become more accessible.
Determining the success of a brand’s PR efforts requires quantitative and qualitative analysis because of the varied impact a brand’s effort can have on each potential stakeholder, especially when it comes to franchise development. So when it’s all said and done, did your campaign actually make a difference for your brand?
Did your messaging consistently and accurately represent your brand in a way that helps prospective owners connect on a deeper level? How can you tell? Did you put compelling content in front of the right people to not only generate more leads, but to generate more quality leads?
Understanding and dissecting the individual pieces that come together to address these questions is imperative to creating a successful PR campaign.
Success starts with a defined audience
The first element to a successful PR campaign is a clearly defined audience. Amy Przywara, Chief Marketing Officer for Sylvan Learning, explained that her brand’s target franchise customer, generally speaking, is anyone interested in buying a Sylvan Learning franchise, but that audience is really broad.
“Segmenting and finding what resonates with smaller groups as opposed to a broader audience has helped us get qualified candidates through the door,” she said. “The content we create through our digital magazine on 1851 and in articles and secured media speaks to that [general audience], of course, but through use of these [targeting] tactics, we’ve identified more specific personas within our target audience to pursue through help from our agency.”
Wireless Zone Executive Director of Development Keith Dziki, on the other hand, explained that his brand targets two distinct audiences with its PR campaigns: prospective candidates with ample wireless experience, and prospective candidates with previous franchising experience.
“The wireless industry involves lots of nuances, in products, plans and services, so individuals with that experience hit the ground running much faster,” he said. “Conversely, a candidate that doesn't have wireless experience but has an understanding of how franchising works and how to hire and motivate employees, has business acumen and is willing to invest day in and day out is also ideal for our brand.”
With a particular audience in mind, brands can then craft content tailored specifically to their desired candidate, helping with overall lead quality.
Distinguish brand voice through clear, consistent messaging
“Back in the day, we were chasing leads to get questions answered and ask for the sale,” Dziki said. “Now, the prospective candidates we’re looking at allow us to focus on education in our messaging.”
Brands should craft content with a clear and consistent message to help educate prospective franchisees on the brand and its opportunity. Doing so gives candidates the ability to make a knowledgeable decision about whether it’s the right franchise opportunity for them.
“With any franchise, you want to be as consistent as possible with prospective franchisees,” Dziki said. “By making sure brand image is consistent across multiple channels of communication, we’re able to keep that information, voice and messaging consistent when addressing candidates. They're seeing the same brand story across all channels.”
“People appreciate education and authenticity,” Przywara added. “Create content about who you are and put it out there.”
Human interest stories make for compelling, relatable content
“People buy brands, but for us at the actual consumer level, that director sitting in front of a parent talking about how Sylvan can help their child is what they are really buying into,” Przywara said. “That personal connection exists, and the content created for 1851 helped me realize it’s the same with a PR campaign.”
Taking an approach to content that is people-centric helps others connect on a human-interest level. The strongest and most effective brand storytelling makes a reader think, ‘That could be me!’
“That connection on a personal level matters when buying a business,” Przywara said. “With any brand, it's about the people you're going to be working with, so the stories that get at the heart of the ‘why’ for the people attached to the brand are an effective PR strategy, which is something I didn’t think about prior to this partnership.”
Maintaining a multi-channel presence is critical
“The biggest change we’ve seen in the last two years has been taking the quality content and relevant articles we’ve produced and secured and pushing that out,” Przywara said, applying the age-old philosophical question about PR: When a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?
Integrating PR campaigns across multiple channels amplifies the effect of a piece of content on a brand’s audience and trickles down through growth and development as a result, Dziki said.
“Repackaging content across platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allows us to reach different personas with the same information, amplifying its reach,” he said. “Using everything at our disposal to contact all of our different networks, 1851 included, allows us to cast a wide net and extend the life of a story on social media.”
Przywara used the phrase ‘surround sound’ when describing the importance of multi-channel distribution.
“With retargeting and social media, we know where our audience is going for information, so we direct our content to those places,” she said. “Creating surround sound by understanding all of the places we can connect with a consumer means that one plus one doesn't always equal two. Its effect can be magnified.”
Utilize data-driven tracking to quantify your efforts
Pushing content out with paid media, putting it in places where people are searching and in specific markets where a brand wants to grow, with everything directing readers back to its franchise development site, makes a difference in lead generation.
“We take an extensive look at the reports the No Limit and 1851 teams provide on a monthly basis,” Dziki said. “We rely on them to analyze overall 1851 brand page traffic, unique visitors, people who went to Wireless Zone’s franchise development site from the brand page, how long they stayed on the site, their click-through rate, the rate at which they’re filling out our information form and bounce rate. We want to make sure we're making the most out of those costs.”
Overall, Dziki said, his team has been ”extremely satisfied” with the results.
“A lot of standard information we had out there was adapted to hit the wireless professional and multi-unit franchise owners we’re pursuing,” he said. “Our efforts are more pinpointed and targeted than ever because a lot of our 1851 articles are geared toward these two audiences, and that alone has had a reciprocating effect in weeding out those that don’t qualify. Overall, our brand message has been consistent about where we are in development today and what we want, making the quality of our leads much higher.”
The data that can be derived from PR creates something tangible for brands to clearly visualize return-on-investment, but the results won’t be there without all of the other elements, brands like Wireless Zone and Sylvan Learning recognize.