Here's what you need to know about crafting a great PR planBy Michele Herson
Every franchise is trying to grab media attention, so if you want to see your name in print rather than that of your competitors, you must have a well crafted public relations plan.
This needs to cover a wide range of activities across all mediums, and should promote not just you, the franchisor, but also your franchisees, and the company’s products or services.
Also, it’s not enough just to devise the plan, it must be implemented diligently and the results should be monitored, so you know what works and what doesn’t.
If you don’t have in-house personnel to handle PR it should be outsourced to Public Relations professionals for development and implementation; ideally someone with experience working with franchises.
The Public Relations Plan
Although every company has some unique requirements, there are a several common activities in all PR campaigns, including:
• Media Information Preparation
Media information is the vehicle that tells a franchisor’s story.
o A Company Profile with its history and achievements
o A description of the product/service including points of difference and relevant technical specifications
o A profile on the company spokesperson
o High resolution images of key personnel and products
o Company logos
o Media releases with newsworthy information such as new products, new franchisees, outlet openings, and industry award successes.
• Key Messages
For correct positioning, the company needs to develop a range of key messages that are used consistently when talking to the media.
• Development of Media Database
A comprehensive database covering all relevant media is paramount and needs to be updated regularly.
The database should include:
o Broadcast media: television free to air and cable and radio
o Print: specialist magazines and newspapers; national, regional and local taking in account speciality sections in these publications
o On-line publications: many are versions of print publications and need to be included as well as dedicated on-line media titles.
o Social Media: Very important and needs to be updated on a regular basis. Dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages are excellent vehicles to reach customers.
o Website: A key communication channel to reach customers, the website needs to carry information on promotions, competitions, media coverage achieved and company news.
The website address should be clearly listed on all collateral, media releases and social media pages.
Public Relations coverage is mainly unpaid media opportunities as opposed to advertising. These include:
• Interviews – Print and broadcast media
• Articles – written by journalists or bloggers and taken from interviews or from media information
• Promotions/Competitions – Customer related, these are usually prize winning product give-aways
• Sponsorships – supporting causes such as sports, schools, hospitals or community projects. These groups are helped to raise money by drawing attention to their cause
• Celebrity driven coverage – When a celebrity endorses products or comments on the company’s benefits. Depending on the relationship, this can be paid or unpaid commentary
• Awards – Winning awards is a very credible and newsworthy way to gain coverage
• New outlet launches – Opening outlets is great way to gain coverage and should always be promoted, especially amongst local media.
• New product launches – New product ranges and special offer campaigns can have media interest.
• Social media - Be active on Twitter and Facebook, and specifically develop and conduct competitions relevant for these mediums, that link to your website
Public Relations Time Line
It is important to have a time line that takes into account media deadlines, so your approaches are timely. This document must be regularly reviewed and updated.