The team at Rev PR explain the importance of an effective grand opening and launch PR campaign for fledgling franchisees
Whether you plan to run your franchise business from home, an office or a retail unit, a PR launch is a great way to kick start success.
Some franchisors will offer a PR launch alongside initial marketing activities, but for those who don’t or if you don’t know what to expect, read on.
Part of the marketing mix
When you’ve invested in a franchise, you want people to know about your business as soon as possible, so you can start generating an income.
You need people to become familiar with the brand, your products or service. But are the marketing activities you have planned enough? Many new business owners either forget that PR is an integral part of the marketing mix or they avoid it because they don’t have the first clue about where to start.
Generating an initial buzz around your business is essential and using PR to connect with potential customers and their influencers supports traditional marketing activities such as advertising or direct mail. Because PR coverage comes from the stance of a third party, rather than being seen as a paid for placement, it’s much more credible.
Going after your first piece of media coverage can be a daunting prospect, so here’s a tip for you before you start - try to think from the viewpoint of the media you’re targeting.
When journalists, editors and producers - the content controllers - are sifting through the masses of PR pitches they receive each day, they’re looking for news that’s going to interest their readers, listeners or viewers.
So ask yourself, aside from being a brand new business:
• What is unique or different about the product or service you offer?
• What human interest story can you tie in?
• Is there something that drew you to this business that can be pitched as a story?
• Is there a strong local or regional angle you can include?
• Is there a good cause you can tie in with - maybe part of the launch profits go to that charity?
Now you’ve got the basis for your ‘grand launch’ PR story.
Make it easy for the media
If you want to make it a no brainer for the media, make sure you can paint a picture with words of how your story is perfect for their audience. Call them up, wow them and follow up immediately with an email.
Media professionals are short on time, like all of us in business. Once you have hooked them with your story, they need to know covering it will not be more hassle than it’s worth. So before you pitch out about your grand launch, make sure you have all your follow-up items ready - a full press release, images, showreel and spokesperson.
Grand opening events
To create a PR launch that’s irresistible to the media, include a grand opening event. Even if your business is run from home, you can use a hotel or other relevant location. Does the franchise have a celebrity endorser or do you have links with a local community champion? Can you make ‘the biggest’, ‘the tallest’, ‘the tastiest’ or tackle an issue for your local area?
A grand opening event gives you the opportunity to generate a buzz during the run-up on social media and face-to-face on the day, as well as with a follow-up PR story about the event and, crucially, the reason for it - ie, your business.
You can make the event impact last even longer by giving everyone something to take away with them. Remember those wedding favours you recycle for every dinner party?
Make it something that will get people enthusiastic enough to talk about or something that will hang about at home or the workplace, giving them a regular reminder of your brand.
Who should you target?
That depends on your business. If you sell a mass market product or service, think about enticing radio coverage, as 90 per cent of people over 15 years old in the UK still listen to radio every day.
Social media is a great way to target niche markets, so find yourself an online influencer or blogger and give them something great to talk about. Make sure you have your own social media accounts set up before you start, so there’s content to link to.
Traditional print media is still the most valued by many of our clients. Local newspapers start conversations and regional magazines are read over and over again, picked up from coffee tables and waiting rooms.
Don’t forget to harness the support of friends, family and business associates. Share your launch news with them both on and offline, as they’re a great way to start the first tickle of a buzz.
How to measure success
The old school measurement of AVE (advertising value equivalent) is easy to understand, but increasingly frowned upon by PR professionals.
Put simply, AVE measures what it would have cost to buy space or place an advert in the same media, with multipliers often added to account for additional trust because genuine PR coverage is not an advertisement.
AVE is certainly useful, but think about what is important to you and what your goals are - perhaps an uplift in visitors to your website or more page likes and engagement on Facebook are metrics you could also measure.
Once the publicity ball is rolling, you can harness the media contacts you have made for future coverage - keep the relationships going and they can be worth their weight in gold.
In fact, for the price of your time or an agency retainer, PR can have one of the best rates of return on investment of your whole marketing mix.
Rev PR’s ‘must haves’ for a grand launch
• A plan - goals, timeline, audience.
• Content - something enticing for your target audience and their influencers.
• Event - what will you do pre, during and post?
• Media list - developing relationships.
• Key performance indicators - a way of measuring success.