If your public relations agency has been working in crisis mode since March, they aren’t alone. Nearly half of communications professionals say they haven’t strategized more than one to three months out all year. But with the end of this unprecedented year in sight, it’s truly time to start planning for 2021.
Last week, Curious Jane hosted a roundtable at the Franchise Leadership & Growth Virtual Conference on “PR Planning for 2021,” and we wanted to share some of the topics that came up in discussions with other franchise development and franchise marketing executives.
If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of having a sound crisis communications plan. Assuming your plan is now up-to-date, this is the perfect time to provide media training for your top company leadership. Whether business is good or you’re facing a crisis, it’s important that your spokesmen and -women be prepared for interviews when the time comes. Media training is more than having talking points ready; it involves being able to predict what you’ll be asked, answer a tough question without getting rattled and stay focused on key messages.
Pro Tip: Be sure talking points are prepared before even a minor crisis becomes public; reporters do not always make appointments before they call (or show up in the lobby).
This is the year to ensure you are capitalizing on your franchise’s accolades. Prospects researching your brand are paying attention to how you fare in various high-profile rankings and lists, such as Entrepreneur’s “Franchise 500” and Franchise Business Review (FBR)’s “Top 50 Recession-Proof Franchises.” These are great selling points for your franchise and should be leveraged on all platforms, including your fran dev website. For example, if your goal is to get on (or move up) FBR’s “Top 50 Franchises for Women,” make sure your PR agency knows so that they can help you build a strategy to call attention to your most successful female owners and what you are doing to recruit more female franchisees. Include those stories on your blog, website and social media.
Pro Tip: For SEO purposes, make sure you spell out the honor in text on your website rather than just post the badge. Google bots cannot read pictures.
With almost all in-person events canceled this year, many franchises turned to owned media to get creative about how to find and nurture leads. Owned media includes all the platforms you “own” – blog, email, social pages like LinkedIn, etc. These are terrific platforms to disseminate information on your franchise development opportunity through blogs, videos, posts and more. Through valuable, educational content, you can establish your expertise and speak directly to prospects who have already shown interest in what you have to say. It’s worthwhile to put some money behind your content – boosting LinkedIn posts, for example – to ensure your message is heard by prospects who may not follow you yet.
Pro Tip: Send your content to trade or franchise media, so the next time they need an “expert,” you’ll be top of mind.
Metrics for Success
When you are setting KPIs for 2021, don’t forget PR. Here are several metrics that you can use to measure PR success:
- The quantity and quality of earned media placements. Earned media is harder to get than ever, so be sure to leverage placements by sharing on your blog, email drip campaign and social pages.
- Referral traffic to your website from media placements. When users visit your site after reading an article about you, PR is working.
- Share of voice (SOV) gauge. SOV measures the percentage of coverage that’s about your franchise as opposed to how much your competitors are getting. You don’t want competitors to dominate the conversation or set the agenda in your industry.
- Frequency of outreach. News releases, articles and pitches demonstrate how productive your agency is.
Pro Tip: Boost the posts about media placements to get more mileage out of those hard-won placements.