Public Relations 101
Developing a media toolbox for franchisees
Empowering your franchisees to work with their local media is an easy and effective way to leverage time and resources. With a little upfront effort, you'll see an increase in media coverage and boost franchisees' ownership of your brand.
Often there are too many tasks on our to-do lists, but training your franchisees to do their own public relations is a winning proposition for you and for them. If you're already running a corporate media relations campaign, you can easily adapt your current materials for your franchisees.
Gini Dietrich is chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich Public Relations in
The best way to make this happen is to create what we call a franchisee media toolbox. This gives them all of the tools they need to do media relations on their own.
What to include
PR 101: A primer on public relations is essential. Teaching your franchisees what makes a good story and how to interact with the media gives them the confidence and know-how they need to implement a media relations campaign at the local level.
Key messages and boilerplate: To ensure consistency in communications, regardless of market, distribute your 30-second elevator speech and corporate messaging. Don't allow your franchisees to "wing it" or make up messages as they speak to the media.
FAQs: "Frequently asked questions" anticipate common media inquiries and prepare franchisees for media interviews. While key messages are the building blocks of your communications, FAQs help franchisees prepare for detailed or tough questions.
Fact sheets: Distributing one-page backgrounders on your brand and your products and/or services help reporters learn and reinforce the basics about your company. Fact sheets ensure accuracy in news stories and profile pieces.
News release and media alert templates: Nothing is more frustrating than watching your brand standards fall by the wayside. Your corporate logo, boilerplate, and letterhead are sacred. Creating templates for news releases and media alerts protects your brand identity. It also reinforces the lessons of PR 101 by demonstrating the proper format for media materials.
Story starters: Story starters are the angles franchisees use to pitch to the media. They highlight industry trends, compelling facts about your company, and case studies to put a face on your franchise.
Media lists: Although your franchisees can develop their own media lists, not all know where to look or which outlets to target. Point them to the right media by providing the most relevant media contacts in the publications read by their target customers.
How to use it
Once you have all your materials in place, it's time to train your franchisees. The most important component of your training program is PR 101. Review the fundamentals of public relations and media outreach, so they'll be able to use the media toolbox with confidence. Think of the toolbox as a lifejacket. It'll keep franchisees afloat, but they need lessons on how to swim and practice to endure.
Ideally, you should schedule an interactive training session with your franchisees. First you'll have to sell your tools and information to them by demonstrating how media relations can improve their business and drive sales growth. Include the following components in your presentation:
Public relations 101: Fundamentals of public relations outreach
Understanding the media: How you can help the media get their job done
Interview techniques: Communicating your messages in an interview
Role-playing: Practicing pitches and interviews
Franchisee media toolbox: Walk through the media toolbox
Corporate media policies: Your media code of conduct
How to measure success
It's not enough to just launch a franchisee local market media program; you need to track results to determine the success of your efforts. The simplest way to measure your program is by monitoring the media and keeping a list of the stories placed by your franchisees—or encourage them to do so.
You can even tie your local media program back to your corporate business objectives. Simple steps, such as assigning a special toll-free number or Web address to local media efforts, allow you to determine the source of new customers or partners. Modify this approach to suit the goals for your company's growth in 2008.
No matter which metrics you establish, a goal for the franchisee program determines whether you're getting a return on investment that's meaningful for your company. Check in with franchisees quarterly, or even monthly, to ensure they're on track with their media program. If they send success clips to you, share those with other franchisees to reward great results.
Listen to their feedback, positive and negative, to adapt your materials in the first year to best meet their needs. Regularly update key facts and local data, so franchisees keep their messages fresh and timely. Consider adding a media training session at your next annual conference.
A franchisee media toolbox helps you protect your brand identity, while simultaneously helping your franchisees feel a new ownership and pride for your company. Developing and distributing a media toolbox for your franchisees may look like a lot of work, but if you've already developed basic media materials, it's an easy next step to enhance your outreach.