When a franchise PR firm tells you that franchise PR will drive your brand forward, run. And run fast.
Franchise PR is not lead generation – it’s lead awareness.
Sure, there may be magical moments that drive crazy awareness that then drives traffic to your site and thus creates leads that turn into deals. But, franchise PR is not what happens in the moment, it is what you ultimately do with it.
If you are an emerging franchise brand, here are ways you can grow your brand by leveraging all forms of communications, not just franchise PR:
1. “All PR is Good PR” is Garbage: Here’s the truth. Consistent PR is good PR. I am sure there was some crappy publicist who booked a horrible placement and needed a catchy marketing buzz term to protect the relationship. For a franchise brand, good PR is built from great human interest stories, properly leveraging growth and opportunity, national media for credibility and consumer drives to show the buyer that you understand your positioning and have one inch of difference.
2. Brand PR Won’t Encourage Someone to Buy your Brand: The type of earned media/franchise PR that says, “Insert brand is opening in insert town,” is a longer lead type of PR in that it may educate the consumer that you are opening in a market, drive that consumer to try the product and then perhaps create some interest in your brand’s franchise opportunity. PR that will encourage is the “like me” narrative– a story built around who your franchisee is and how they landed on your brand. Human interest is the best type of franchise PR because it resonates with buyers. They can see themselves in the shoes of the franchisee.
3. Most PR is Good PR, if You Know How to Use It: Do you have a great story that ran a few years back? No problem. Here’s what you do. Take that story and repost it on your blog or on your content site like the following: “Update: New York Times Names Nick’s Pizza Best Franchise Opportunity.” Start the piece off with an update of what has happened since that article came out, using leadership dialog and data to support the growth.
Since being named a top franchise opportunity by the New York Times, Nick’s Pizza has added 10 franchisees in the state of Wisconsin. “That article was valuable for our brand, as it validated to our future franchisees that our product was among the best,” said CEO.
The same goes for competitor content. Were you frustrated that a competitor earned buzz? Take their story and write what you would have said had you been quoted. “Mark’s Pizza Named Best Franchise Opportunity by Wall Street Journal; Nick’s Pizza Show’s Why WSJ May Have Gotten it Wrong.”
Content marketing is about taking content and marketing it. Most PR gives brands the opportunity to have an additional dialog about the topic.
Take the TODAY Show. Watch the rundown of content. It is all things that are happening around us at that moment – and many times, it’s news that has been discussed by other outlets.
4. Your Blog is OK, But it Doesn’t Give You a Ton of Credibility: When is the last time you read a brand’s blog? When is the last time your franchise prospect read your blog and said it really motivated them to move forward? Unless the blog comes from a human (exactly why human social media is greater than brand social media), data will show (just look at your Google Analytics) that readers rarely see the content, let alone read it as credible. This is exactly why PR firms exist – to earn third party credibility. There are alternatives to this, such as a blog that lives in a third party world, yet maintains the voice you desire.
5. If You Use the Portals, Use the Portals: A franchise portal is designed to help the beginning lead determine what opportunities are out there. Data shows that buyers take, on average, six months to then fill out the inquiry form on your website. If you are investing in a franchise portal, make sure your content drives the user all over the web – to PR you secured, to your social media sites, to franchisees’ LinkedIn pages. Use the portal profile as a tool to help the buyer perform their due diligence. If you simply use the portal for your name, costs and simple background, you won’t get the value out of the portals that you could.
6. Send Out Your Content to Your Lead Lists: On a monthly basis, take all of your great PR and send it out to your lists (including dead leads). The dead leads that interact with your content (you can see if they click) may still be engaged with the idea of becoming a franchisee. Setting up these lists is fairly easy with a program like MailChimp or FranConnect.
PR is not what happens in the moment, it is what you do with it. The PR you earn builds credibility and awareness and then the true lead generation strategy happens after the fact. If your franchise PR firm hasn’t guided you to leveraging PR, then they are likely one dimensional. Franchise sales is multi-dimensional. Make sure your program is too if you want ultimate success as an emerging franchise brand.