Marketing

How Emerging Franchises Can Use PR to Build Their Brands

By LORA KELLOGG, CFE

Is your emerging franchise growing as fast as you had anticipated it would? If not, perhaps you are missing a key ingredient in your franchise development plan: public relations.

Emerging franchises are usually defined as brands with fewer than 50 locations or those whose franchise program is less than 5 years old. FRANdata reports about 300 companies launch franchise programs each year. And yet, with more than 3,000 franchise brands in the U.S., less than half have more than 50 locations, and some of those have been franchising for more than a decade.

So, why aren’t some of the emerging franchises growing faster? Forbes says some of the most common obstacles are poor franchise development strategy and franchisees who are not meeting their financial goals.

Public relations can address both of those issues. A strong PR strategy speaks to your target audience and informs or persuades them to take action. An emerging brand’s target audiences would be potential franchisees and potential customers, and PR provides an effective vehicle to communicate with those groups.

Why Should You Invest in PR?

Yes, resources are limited for emerging brands. But just as you should invest in a well-designed website and strategic digital marketing, you need proactive PR to get your message out. The three should work hand-in-hand to tell your story.

Telling your brand story is a top priority of an emerging franchise. PR can get your story in front of the people who you most want to hear it through articles, blogs, news releases, podcasts and more. A steady stream of “good news” about your franchise and the success of your franchisees will go a long way when franchise prospects begin their research. Increased brand awareness will help you attract better candidates, because they already will be familiar with your business and your mission.

PR also can help get your brand on high-profile lists of best investments or fastest-growing franchises, which will get your franchise in front of candidates researching opportunities.

Strategies for Emerging Brands

You understand that PR is important and you are ready to invest in it and to leverage coverage to grow your franchise. How do you do that?

You can use PR to:

  • Sweeten your franchise package. Entrepreneurs who are just launching their own businesses will appreciate a corporate-funded PR program that raises awareness in their communities and attracts customers. Make the PR program part of your franchise support package.
  • Share your success stories. Public relations can help you get good news about your franchisees in local media or trade publications. Successful, happy franchisees are the best brand ambassadors.
  • Expand your footprint. Regional growth is an effective strategy for emerging brands. By concentrating your PR efforts in a certain state or region, you can maximize the exposure to potential franchisees and customers.

Public relations is an essential component to a complete franchise development plan. PR effectively increases brand awareness, especially for newer brands, and it gives you control over your brand story and provides outlets to share it. Be proactive with PR, and let it help you grow your brand.

Lora Kellogg, CFE, is president and CEO of Curious Jane, an ad agency specializing in franchises. With more than 15 years of experience and a portfolio of top brands, she and her team work with established and emerging franchises to grow sales, increase traffic, build brand awareness and generate leads.