When effectively implemented, PR can help businesses achieve important business goals. Every business has plans to grow, develop, raise its brand profile and increase visibility. This is especially true for franchises, whose ultimate goal is to expand in their market by growing their customer database and by finding people ready to invest in the franchise and open their own.
PR can help to get the franchise brand and message in front of the target audience, not only in front of potential customers but also in front of potential franchisees. For this reason, brand building is twice as important than for any other business. Let’s dive into how.
Reinforce Brand Recognition
The success of a franchise is hugely dependant on the brand image and perception by the wider public. The consistency of the company messages and of the quality of its service delivery is key to growing brand recognition and ultimately to expand.
If we take the example of Costa Coffee, there is a clear and well-defined expectation from the consumers when they purchase a product in terms of taste, customer service, price, shop environment, atmosphere, etc. All of these things are part of what makes Costa Costa. It’s all about perception and how people feel about the brand.
PR is the art of influencing that perception and building a brand image, and franchising as a concept was built upon branding. That’s why PR is essential to any franchise. Gaining press coverage in the relevant publications, especially via third-party endorsement, will reinforce your brand recognition.
A lack of investment in PR and the relevant communication channels can hinder the growth and development of franchises, particularly developing franchises. When starting out and looking to accelerate growth, smaller sized franchises should focus on building a recognisable brand in their sector and in the franchise sector in general if they hope to develop. Don't overlook PR as a means to achieve this goal.
Avoiding bad press
Avoiding bad press is one of the key preoccupations for any franchise. Anyone looking into investing in a franchise will be put off if the online reviews are negative or if there is a media crisis surrounding the business. Negative feedback doesn’t inspire trust, and without trust, there is no commitment. It’s like choosing an insurance company. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. It’s almost impossible for a brand to avoid bad press.
The key is to have a crisis communication plan in case it happens. That’s also an important part of PR; monitoring negative press and mentions online, and situations that may have the potential to spiral into something bigger, and dealing with them accordingly.
With numerous locations nationwide or sometimes worldwide, and all under one franchise umbrella, franchises are well aware of what impact negative press coverage or a single incident can have on their brand image and ultimately on their sales. Any coverage is good coverage? Not necessarily. Especially when it comes to investing in a business.
Effective PR means having safeguards in place to deal with potential crises:
- A company spokesperson can be appointed to deal with all media enquiries, conduct all relevant interviews, as well as deal with and be at the forefront to respond to any crises or urgent matters.
- A communications team can be formed to promote the franchise’s core values and beliefs and to respond to enquiries and issues in line with the organisations. The team can collate essential information and documents that can be released.
- Plan for potential crises. Effective PR means planning ahead and preparing for any potential crises and negative incidents. This can help to spot any issues in advance and nip potential harmful situations in the bud, helping to maintain a positive image for your franchise.
Attract New Customers & Business Opportunities
Franchises, irrespective of size, looking for opportunities to expand into new territories and markets, can utilise PR as a means to attract new customers, through public awareness, and boost sales in these targeted areas. Alongside marketing and advertising campaigns, positive PR coverage can help on a number of fronts:
- A revenue increase. Your franchise receiving positive press coverage through targeted PR campaigns can open doors to new audiences and consumers through an increase in visibility of your brand. An effective public relations strategy means targeting the most relevant publications as a way of reaching your target audience and subsequently turning potential prospects into new consumers.
- Promote a new location. One of the main goals of a franchise is to build multiple franchise locations, but if the new location isn’t sufficiently promoted and the target audience are not made aware, the venture may fall flat. PR can help create excitement and anticipation for the new shop in the area.
- Heightened brand attractiveness. As is any walk of life, success brings more opportunities and can help to open new doors. Franchisees and investors are always sourcing new investment opportunities and are particularly attracted to the brand and concept of a successful franchise. PR can help to showcase your franchise’s successes, major developments and investments, amongst other important news, increasing your brand’s credibility and success and subsequently drawing in new franchisees as well as reassuring current franchisees of your brand’s stature in the market.