One of the most important aspects of running your new franchise business is public relations. Understanding media relations, how the press operate and what good communications with the media actually means, are skills and knowledge you must develop to ensure the long-term future of your business. The business news is littered with new start-up businesses that failed because they didn’t handle their marketing professionally.
Understanding the media
The communications channels you use should be varied, but the marketing mix you use, should reflect the marketing message you want to get across to potential customers. Today, the press and media divide into distinct groups that include:
Publicity in the national press is very expensive, but it can reach a massive audience in a short space of time. The type of franchise business you run will determine whether the high cost of this kind of media exposure will generate enough publicity to justify the cost. Local newspapers are also a good place to showcase new businesses start-ups.
If your new business is in a very specialised market, there will be a trade magazine to support that sector. Display advertising and developing close media relations with these magazines makes good business sense. You can get excellent coverage of your business by getting to know the editor or public relations agency that handles the magazines publicity.
Local radio can be a great source of free publicity. Like local newspapers, they are always on the look out for news stories. A new local business start-up is just what they are looking for. Contact them via their media relations department. Mass media like radio is a great way of kick starting your franchise business.
No business can ignore the Internet as a marketing channel. More advertising spend is moving online each year. Using systems like Google’s Adwords, and display or banner display advertising can be highly effective if this kind of public relations exposure is properly targeted. Think about what you want to communicate about your business, and then look for websites that are visited by potential customers who may be interested in your franchise business. Keep an eye on costs as these can easily spiral out of control, and don’t forget to measure how effective - or not - your online campaigns are.
Even in the age of the Internet, offline marketing is still effective. As we have seen, the traditional media should be part of your public relations and publicity campaigns. Techniques like direct marketing should also be investigated. As you can target your communications messages to a narrow range of customers, you can expect a better return and more potential customers. The media has often derided direct mail, but it continues to be one of the most effective communications channels that a small business can use.
How to write a press release
Media relations is all about communications. The media want to know about your business as their public relations and media relations departments need a steady stream of news. One of the most established ways of marketing your business is to write press releases that you circulate to the media at regular intervals. Use the checklist below to write the perfect press release for your business:
1. Keep it short
Public relations and media relations professionals get hundreds of press releases each month. They don’t have time to read pages of text about your business. Condense your marketing message down to just one page of text.
2. Target your message
Think about which publications or media relations department to send your press release to. The more targeted this is, the more chance you have to getting your business mentioned in their publication.
3. Images and photos
Many press and media relations channels need photography and other images. In many cases they won’t use a press release unless it has high quality photos.
4. Media relationships
Just sending out press releases to a public relations department is a very hit and miss affair. Try and develop a relationship with the key personnel in these departments. When your next press release arrives they are more likely to read it and give your business coverage as they know you.
5. Spelling and grammar
Ensure you have checked and double-checked your text for mistakes. There is nothing worse than reading a badly spelled press release. A well crafted press release reflects to the public and media relations departments how professional your business is.
6. Don’t be a nuisance
After sending your communications to your chosen media, give them time to respond. If you continually bombard them with emails and telephone calls, this will only ensure your business doesn’t get the coverage it wants. Be patient.
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Local papers will often do small pieces on new business in the area. Contact them and tell them what you’re doing. In many instances, in exchange for an ad in the paper, they’ll run a short feature along with a photograph. Publicity like this can really help attract new custom to the business.
Chris - 4-Oct-12 @ 12:31 PM
If you're writing a press release, possibly the most important thing, apart from making sure it's no longer than one page, is the first paragraph. You need to make sure you have the who, what where, why and when in there. You can't just put out a press release. It has to relate to something specific, like a new product, the launch of a business, or something similar. Make it pithy, hook people in. It's a skill that can be learnt. Read plenty of press releases before trying to write your own.