How to Use PR to Promote Your Franchise

melissa_digianfilippo.jpgIn this muddied business world where new shops pop up and shut down every day, it is becoming increasingly crucial for brands to generate interest, build a loyal fan base and grow a following – and to do it fast. This task is never simple and creates different obstacles for every company. Trying to gain the attention of an already distracted audience of consumers is no easy feat.

For traditional businesses, failing to create a brand that stands out can lead to their downfall. Although franchises appear to be safe by operating under the parent business it’s associated with and adopting the existing brand, this “safety net” makes it incredibly difficult for the franchise to grow into its own unique part of the larger organization.

However, franchises, like other small businesses, have flexibility in terms of how they choose to go about local campaign initiatives. With this opportunity, franchises need to take advantage of effective public relations strategies that will set them apart from their parent brand. Here are some key PR initiatives individual franchises can choose to stand out:

Partner with Local Charities

It may seem like old news, but it’s still essential – studies show that consumers are more willing to spend money on brands that support good causes. Getting involved with local charities is a philanthropic and straightforward way to build a loyal and niche fan base. Partnering with local charities will create brand awareness for your small, independent franchise-- therefore separating you from the larger corporate umbrella. However, be sure to make an informed and educated decision on which organization to support. On top of ensuring you’re partnering with a transparent and ethical charity, it also needs to align with the brand’s values, as well as resonate with your target market.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Creating individual social media accounts for your specific franchise across various platforms is crucial to setting your business apart from the larger brand, as long as the franchise allows you this opportunity. Each platform offers unique opportunities to reach your target market and to take advantage of their attention.

The power of the social media influencer is not a myth. People trust other people. Consumers are more likely to believe what influencers post about a product than what the brand says about their own product. You can create valuable partnerships with local influencers, which can result in mutually beneficial relationships. By offering free or discounted products, you receive authentic content that generates tags, likes, and comments that all lead to building more interest in what your franchise has to offer. However, be sure to do your research before connecting with an influencer. On top of checking their credibility and reliability, you also need to be confident that this influencer has the kind of following that matches your target market.

Finally, showcase your team as experts via social media by creating live or recorded video content. Host interactive Q&A session on Instagram or Facebook Live, showcase a “how to” video, give a tour of your facility - the opportunities are endless. Video content is really the name of the game when it comes to social media, so don’t be camera shy!

Do what you need to do to generate that buzz surrounding your product and brand.

Cultivate a Community Event

Whether it’s a grand opening, new product reveals, anniversary or holiday event – people will come if there is food, drinks, and free stuff. You can share invites to the general public via social media and email. Along with inviting the overall community, you can also invite influential individuals such as local government officials, social media influencers, and members of the media. Doing this will help your event get noticed, creating more long-term interest in your franchise.

Sell Your Franchise’s Unique Story

Never forget the importance of earned media. Landing a story on the front page of the local newspaper can cause your following to blow up overnight. However, attaining this kind of coverage is not a simple task, and having the right creative team to help you sell your franchise’s story is vital. In some cases, hiring a public relations firm who is either local to your market or experienced in your vertical can be imperative to your company’s success. These PR firms often have the resources, connections, and experience to know which local media outlets to target to secure stories that will get you noticed by your desired audience.

Initiating effective PR campaigns right away in the early stages of your franchise will help you gain attention as your own unique part of the brand. Success will not come overnight; however, implementing these strategies now will help to ensure your franchise’s overall success down the road.

Melissa DiGianfilippo is partner and president of public relations at Serendipit Consulting, where she leads all of the firm’s clients’ public relations and communications efforts. Under Melissa’s direction, Serendipit clients have achieved millions of dollars in positive press coverage across international, national and local media outlets including CNN, Nancy Grace, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Late Show, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters, Associated Press, Huffington Post as well as local broadcast and print outlets in all U.S. markets.

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