Media coverage can be a blessing for franchisors if it is managed well; as your profile goes up, so will your recruitment figures. Whilst an integrated marketing campaign will always yield the best results, not all of its activities have to incur a direct cost. Here are 10 things to consider within your franchise marketing plan that do not have to break the bank!
1. Focus your PR efforts.
Choose carefully exactly what message you want to convey, your target audience and your target media. Whether it’s the launch of a new franchise opportunity, a significant anniversary or a competition win, make sure it is relevant to the readership of your targeted media — be it print, broadcast or online.
2. Use social media for free PR.
You can set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account at no cost. Social media is an excellent way to build relationships with your prospects and create word–of–mouth publicity. This can get addictive so make sure that you only devote an appropriate amount of time to tweeting as if your target audience doesn’t use social media that much then you could spend your time more effectively elsewhere!
3. Viral marketing.
Whether it’s a YouTube video with thousands of views, or a photo that is tweeted and retweeted, if your promotional material goes ‘viral’ it can give your public profile a huge boost. There is no magic formula to viral marketing — but something quirky, interesting and funny is more likely to capture people’s imaginations.
4. Write a great press release.
Press releases have more uses than just being sent to journalists, they can also go on your website, be linked to your social media profiles and added to any recruitment website listings you may have. Ensure you have a catchy headline and a strong, summarising opening paragraph and an image to capture the imagination before getting into the details.
5. Get back to basics.
Don’t waste your time sending out endless empty press releases. Journalists want to write about something that is newsworthy, particularly if it will appeal to their readership. If it’s linked with famous people or events, controversial, amusing, or relevant to a current national news item then you are much more likely to get the coverage you want.
6. Advertising promotions.
Many advertisers also offer editorial space with the space you have paid for. If you take up this free editorial space, make sure you fill it with something appealing to the readers of that publication and give them something to act on – visiting you at an exhibition or joining one of your discovery days.
7. Go for gold.
Winning an award is a fantastic way to get publicity — not only does it recognise your talent and increase your prestige, award ceremonies are a good place to network and are usually covered by the press. Some awards are free to enter so look out for ones that are well respected in your industry as well as the franchise sector.
8. Get philanthropic.
Giving your time for free can be a scary thought when you are a busy franchisor but it can pay dividends! Getting your team involved in a charity event or offering to speak at a networking event can all have the secondary benefit of raising the profile of your franchise opportunity.
9. Deal with bad publicity promptly.
Swift, effective action can turn a negative comment into piece of good publicity. If a customer complains, contact them directly with a full apology and suggested solution. If you see negative and anonymous comments online, respond honestly in the same forum, explaining the situation from your perspective. Do not ignore negative feedback — it may be the first thing a prospective customer sees if they decide to search for you online.
10. Keep it in perspective.
Publicity is a great way to increase footfall but don’t neglect other aspects of your business in a bid to boost your profile. Don’t forget that a multi-channel marketing approach is always the most successful route to recruit franchisees.
Ask an expert!
If you don’t have time to manage your own PR, then it is worth outsourcing it. While some companies will work for a reasonable retainer, always ensure you know what you are paying for. If you are not sure if you’ve been given a good deal and want some advice, email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you my opinion. We offer a limited number of PR Pay by Results services to franchisors each month, so if you want to do the writing part yourself but want to leave the dealing with journalists, editors and freelancers to someone else, get in touch to subscribe.
Sally Anne Butters MCIPR, is Head of Media at Coconut Creatives.