3 Things Franchises Should Know About Hiring a PR Firm

Be honest about your expectations, explore multiple firms and above all, trust your gut.
3 Things Franchises Should Know About Hiring a PR Firm
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Deputy Editor
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This story appears in the November 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Getting the word out about your business -- to both consumers and potential franchisees -- is crucial. But working with a PR agency is an intimate experience. Here are three stories about finding the right chemistry. 

Related: Is Hiring a PR Firm Worth It?

1. Know your goals!

From Debra Vilchis, chief operating officer, Fishman PR

When a franchise is hiring a PR firm, make sure that firm clearly understands your business objective -- you’re not just going out there and getting media placements for the heck of it! A lot of PR firms get excited to get big hits, but it might not move the needle for the client in the right way. As a specialized franchise PR firm, 98 percent of the time, we find that our customers are trying to grow their systems. So it’s important that our clients tell us everything about their goals and about their ideal franchisees. We could try to do a one-size-fits-all approach and secure stories in the Wall Street Journal, but if a brand is looking for a female millennial as their franchisee, that’s not going to be successful. We have to be very strategic: Who is the candidate our client is trying to attract, and what are the messages they’re trying to convey? From there, we make sure every single angle we pitch and every outlet is going to attack those two things -- but we need to hear them from our clients first. 

Related: This Ingenious PR Strategy Will Improve Your SEO

2. What I wish I knew

From Buffalo Wings & Rings

When this Cincinnati-based sports restaurant chain first hired a PR agency, chief development officer Philip Schram figured that a big firm could help him reach everyone he needed to. But he was wrong -- and he spent years hopping between agencies before finding No Limit Agency, a firm that clicked for him.
He wishes he knew to…

Explore options.

Every agency has different skills and specialties, so shop around. Schram met No Limit at the National Restaurant Association and, after speaking to so many others, could see a fit instantly. “What they said made my heart vibrate,” he says. 

Question the experts’ expertise.

Past agencies threw junior staffers at Schram -- but they were trained in consumer PR and hadn’t developed the business acumen for his B2B goals: “We needed to reach and talk to investors, franchisees.”

Get a big-picture plan.

Restaurants are a crowded space. “For emerging brands like us, it’s hard to compete for consumers and franchisees,” Schram says. Media attention alone wouldn’t do it; that’s why No Limit developed a comprehensive plan for PR, revamping the brand’s website and fine-tuning its message.

3. Unexpected success

From Sky Zone

What it expected: Eight years ago, just after this trampoline park business began franchising, it hired the PR firm Konnect Agency to get the word out to potential franchisees.

Related: Here's How PR Help Your Venture Grow

What it got: Konnect helped reach new franchisees, but it also helped Sky Zone think bigger about its business. Sky Zone CEO Jeff Platt thought he was first and foremost selling fun, but, he says, “Konnect hit the health angle quite a bit with our press, and in turn, it really became a core value of ours. Offering fitness classes and programs became more important to us.” 

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