What Franchises Should Know Before Hiring a PR Firm

Franchisors and franchisees alike can benefit from a talented PR firm that can get the attention of new customers. Here's how to find a match.
What Franchises Should Know Before Hiring a PR Firm
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This story appears in the March 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

1. Ask All Your Questions

From Jamie Izaks, president and cofounder, All Points Public Relations 

When vetting a PR firm, whether you’re a franchisor or a franchisee, you want to find the best value. Where’s the intersection of quality and cost? To do that, you need to ask a lot of questions. What types of brands do you serve? Who are your longest-term clients? How do you keep them moving forward? Get specific. If you’re a franchisee, ask for franchisee case studies that show how the PR firm helped drive business. If you’re a franchisor, request an example that outlines how much one company paid and what it received in business growth, media impressions, ad equivalency, site visitors, or social media engagement. It’s also important to understand a firm’s role in the industry. Ask: What’s your connection to franchising outside your firm? How intimately are you involved? Ideally, executives will be ingrained in the industry, sitting on boards or attending relevant events. Another thing to consider: transparency. Assess how straightforward the company is and the clarity of its plan. How’s the team’s response time, and what sense do you get of overall work ethic? PR isn’t straightforward; it can take months to get the right result. You need to know an agency is alongside you for the long fight.

Related: 3 Things Franchises Should Know About Hiring a PR Firm

2. Be Honest About Expectations

From Neal Courtney, CEO, Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids 

Neal Courtney started as a Cookie Cutters franchisee. Today, he’s CEO. The brand has more than quadrupled its size in five years, and PR firm Franchise Elevator helped supercharge his strategic plan with…

1) Real results 

Since partnering with the PR firm, Cookie Cutters has expanded from 24 locations to 110 — and Courtney could track the stories it placed in relevant publications with a boost in franchise sales. “I would say 10 percent of our growth is related to the direct efforts of Franchise Elevator,” he says.  

2) Quick communication 

“We’re extremely aggressive, and I wanted a firm that really wanted to run with us as a hare,” says Courtney. So before signing on, he had a lot of conversations to make sure Franchise Elevator could keep up with his requests, ideas, and demands. 

3) Trust 

Courtney wanted a PR rep who genuinely believed in his business. “Especially for emerging brands, you need to know that the partners you’re working with are passionate about what you’re bringing to market,” he says. “Otherwise you’re just another company in their portfolio.”

Related: 6 Unique PR Tactics That Drive Growth and Sales

3. Unexpected Success

From Vinnie Sposari, franchise owner, Mr. Rooter Plumbing 

What he expected: Mr. Rooter’s corporate office provides franchisees with PR services through Fish Consulting, but Sposari was skeptical. He didn’t think PR could actually boost business for a plumbing company.

What he got: Name recognition. Sposari constantly meets people who recognize the name Mr. Rooter from articles, and sometimes people even recognize him by name. Plus, the press has helped boost trust. “People don’t always trust the plumber,” says Sposari. “This gives us some credibility.”

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