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Make your PR outlast new year’s resolve


Mark Siebert

You know the article your PR firm landed in that recent edition of a national business publication? That’s the kind of sales tool whose power doesn’t need explanation.

Problem is, if after it hits the press, it sits forever on your company’s bookshelf or rests on the desk of your CEO, with no long-term residual effect. And while having the article on the website of that publication will improve your SEO by creating inbound links, after several months its contribution to your optimization has been largely eliminated.

Just because you can’t keep your New Year’s resolution to hit the gym every day doesn’t mean you can’t keep this one business resolution: When you land great publicity, make it last the entire year long.  

Keep their eyes on the ball

When the ball drops in Times Square to mark the New Year, people simply can’t take their eyes off it. How could you look away from a geodesic sphere lit by 32,256 LED lamps? Tremendous publicity, displayed the right way at a trade show, can have the similar effect of mesmerizing attendees.

Whether it’s a great news story displayed on an iPad, blown-up on a poster, or distributed around the trade show floor, show off that hard public relations work in front of as many eyes as possible.

While you’re working the booth all day or walking the floor, having that article backing you up is an effective way to catch and keep your targets’ attention. And don’t have any illusions: You’ll need everything you can get in order to compete with the crowded, noisy crush of trade show attendees fighting for attention.

It’s one thing to provide a prospective franchisee with branded information about the concept and your practiced sales pitch; but the beauty of a displayed news piece at a trade show is that it does some of the talking for you.

When leveraging PR at a trade show, you’ll want to be selective and wise with what you choose. Savvy prospects will know the difference between a pay-to-play placement (something you bought ad space for, oftentimes called an advertorial) and something that is truly organic, earned media coverage. The latter is much more difficult to come by, but its third-party credibility has the same effect as a personal referral – acting as an endorsement that candidates trust.  

You could say the key to an effective email marketing campaign is to make noise that matters. How many times have you checked your email in the morning to find so many newsletters that you have to quickly decide which one or two you’ll open while trashing the rest?

Just like in the news world, the way you grab a reader’s attention is with timeliness, relevance and newsworthiness. Inserting a quick jab in the subject line about a recent article makes your email stand out from all the other voices demanding your reader’s attention, and it also shows that you’re plugged into current events.

And when you put together that monthly or quarterly newsletter about your franchise, be sure to include any relevant media mentions. That goes a long way in further validating your concept and the franchise opportunity you’re selling. Pop those party poppers with links to articles that reinforce your message.  

Aside from your email marketing programs, make sure your PR pops on your website. When you make the front page of a national publication or receive other prominent coverage, don’t bury it in a news section or in the weeds of one of your other sub-pages.  

Catch the attention of anyone who found you on Google and came to your website. Flaunt your press — consider creating a catchy slider image or banner. Or, consider creating an “As seen on…” section on your home page. A little confetti goes a long way.  

Don’t forget about social media either. When you earn coverage, tweet about it. Share it on Facebook. Tweet at the author of that article. Tweet at the publication you were in, thanking them. Then, a month down the road, when you’re ripe for more social media content, tweet about it again leveraging a different tidbit from the coverage.

The idea is to keep that article working for you — it’s not every day your brand will get high-profile coverage.

The return on investment generated by your PR dollars can be measured in a number of ways.  Obviously, if the publicity you achieve generates leads that ultimately close, you need look no further than the present value of the franchise sale to quantify your returns.

Measuring the impact

But while feature news stories and major media appearances may generate a significant number of leads, less prominent placements are unlikely to bring a big audience to your parade. Less prominent placements can still create a strong ROI when used as a validator during the sales process.

Measuring the impact of improved close rates is, unfortunately, very difficult. But the impact is undeniable. If, for example, the increased credibility of effective PR increases your team’s close rate from 2.0 percent to only 2.1 percent, you would anticipate one incremental sale for every 1,000 leads. So if your marketing budget is designed to generate enough leads to generate one sale per month, this increased credibility would add one incremental sale every 20 months.  

Perhaps one of the best stories I’ve heard about a franchise brand succeeding through a PR campaign: Several years back one particular franchise with about a dozen or so regional locations was featured on a CNBC “Power Lunch” segment. Shortly after it aired, a prospect called the franchise and soon thereafter signed a six-unit deal.

When it comes to PR, you have to be persistent. But just like with that New Year’s resolution to go to the gym every day, if you stick with it, the results will follow.

Mark Siebert is CEO of consulting firm iFranchise Group. Reach him at 708.957.2300 or info@ifranchisegroup.com. His new book is “Franchise Your Business: The Guide to Employing the Greatest Growth Strategy Ever.”

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