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Show Me the Money: Effective Franchisee Lead Generation Through Public Relations

When utilized correctly and intelligently, PR will help your franchise grow exponentially. 

Regardless of industry, the key principle of success in business is being able to translate your investments into profit. This same principle applies to the effective use of public relations in attracting potential franchisees. While it is nice to be able to see your franchise name in bright shiny lights, on the cover of a magazine or on TV, this ultimately means nothing if it merits no real results.

The question of whether or not public relations will prove effective in creating prospective franchisees is a valid one. When executed properly, the answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes.”

It is with this in mind that information and examples are provided here to demonstrate how a multi-pronged, results-driven public relations campaign can create interest and ultimately return on investment in the form of lead generation. Although it is tough to measure the complete impact of public relations, this article is designed to offer ways in which franchisors can hold PR accountable and reap the benefits of their investment through business growth.

Creating Buzz

One of the most basic purposes of public relations is to inform consumers about a particular brand, product or service. In the industry, this is referred to as the “buzz.” Buzz is a very powerful that can spread quickly and affect consumers’ decisions, resulting in demand for your business. The more people are exposed to messages about your franchise and what it offers, the more likely they will be to show interest. Remember, all franchisees are also consumers.

Franchisees are taking in messages about brands and products just like many others and even if they are not purposely looking for prospective business ideas in what they read, watch or listen to, the repeated exposure to your brand is crucial in spurring their initial interest.

For example, we recently secured a nice mention and photo for one of our food franchise clients in a cover story about the top places to eat around the country. This feature focused on the menu offerings of the restaurant and had nothing to do with the business aspect of the brand. Nonetheless it showcased the positive and desirable attributes of the business, building buzz. The more carefully your brand message is crafted, the more likely it is to garner interest from new franchisees.

Offering Support

Another way that public relations can help in generating leads is by demonstrating a franchisor’s investment in its franchisees’ success. While some of us may not care to admit it, the reality is that there are multiple franchise brands with the potential to be a good fit for any franchisee. Every differentiator counts. Proactive public relations efforts establish dedication to success on the part of the franchisor. Revealing this investment in the brand tells entrepreneurial franchisees that they will receive ongoing support as the company continues to grow. After all, enterprising individuals who explore franchise opportunities often do so because they want the support and resources of a larger corporation.

A skilled public relations firm can support the brand every time a new franchisee signs on or a current franchisee decides to open another property, working with them on every aspect of the opening to create initial and continual local consumer interest. Doing everything from drafting the press release to reaching out to local media, and even helping with events and promotions, franchisees are supported in their efforts through an effective public relations campaign.

Building Credibility

No one likes to brag … Oh, who are we kidding? Everyone likes to brag. While you know your brand is the best option out there for a potential franchisee, and can talk at length about all the amazing benefits your franchise business has to offer, nothing works better than letting the press do the bragging for you.

As part of an effective and strategic public relations campaign, your company is building its credibility through well known, national media who in essence are legitimizing your business through their work.

One example of how a PR firm can make this work for its clients is by creating press books for them at the end of each year. Containing all media coverage garnered for that calendar year, these books are impressive, showcasing the hundreds or even thousands of esteemed media outlets that have featured the franchise. When taken to a business meeting, trade show or other events, these books speak volumes about a franchise’s potential without saying a word.

Getting Your Story Out There

Every franchise has a story to tell and every story can showcase various aspects of the business that might be attractive to potential franchisees. This author has yet to come across a franchise brand that did not have a press-worthy story. It is the role of public relations to get the right story to the right media who will influence the right audience.

An effective PR firm can secure a versatile array of press. For each piece secured, the PR firm should inform its clients of the story that will be told and the type of interest it will create. While a recipe feature in a women’s magazine may not be a piece that will spur immediate business action, a profile in The Wall Street Journal will. Your business may have the most exciting history, growth and potential out there, but if no one is around to tell the story accurately, a significant amount of potential business may be missed.

In the end, PR is just like any other business service or tool. When utilized correctly and intelligently, it will help your franchise grow exponentially. Leads come in all forms and PR helps sell franchises. When an article spurs an onslaught of calls from potential franchisees, it’s ROI. When a new franchisee signs on because they attended a packed opening for a new location, it’s ROI. While Jerry Maguire may be far removed from the franchise realm, his simple mantra, “show me the money,” is fitting as it relates to public relations’ role in generating prospective franchisee interest. ⎯

Sabina Gault is the CEO of Konnect Public Relations, a mid-size PR agency that creates custom ROI-focused campaigns for clients in the franchise industry. She can be reached at sgault@konnect-pr.com.

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