Optimizing Your Own Press - in Print and Online

Note: This is the fourth and final part of a series on how to use public relations in franchisee recruitment. For part 1, Discovering the Power of Public Relations, click here. For part 2, Hiring a PR Agency, click here. For part 3, Generating Your Own Press, click here.

During the 1970s, I was a part-time press aide for Joe Garrubo. The New Jersey Assemblyman paid a former Associated Press reporter, who was a master of news coverage, to train me. He taught me the ins and outs of getting Joe into the media, including into the powerful statewide newspaper, The Star-Ledger. We met with the paper's satellite reporters at the state capital in Trenton, rather than at their Newark headquarters. The reporters showed me exactly how to prepare my submissions: write a top sheet with a paragraph summarizing the attached press release, and highlight in the upper right-hand corner the legislative bill the story was about. "You need to submit releases to Trenton on Wednesdays, because it's our slowest day so you get the most attention. Also, never send anything again to the Newark offices. Too much red tape, too much competition for space." My news mentor also taught me how to get TV coverage, which paid off later with a three-minute piece featuring Garrubo on the ABC evening news.

Each media company has its own sacred system for identifying and selecting editorial candidates they deem newsworthy for their readership. Learn how to cater to their process and you can score more with press opportunities.

  • Submit powerful photos -- The media are always searching for dramatic and interesting professional photos that will grab their audience. They are selling their viewers with each story they present, and visuals can greatly enhance a story. Invest money to create powerful photos and you can blow away the stack of other press releases. Retail and restaurant businesses have more "glamour appeal" for creating photos with pizzazz. What can service and home-based franchises do?
  • They can do a lot. American Advertising Distributors was searching for an extraordinary photo that would command front-cover space and a feature story. An industry publication was going to write about advertising franchises and include the most successful owners from several systems. The magazine had not yet selected a cover photo for that issue. American Advertising was determined to trump the competition for the cover and hired a professional photographer to conduct a shoot featuring the successful lifestyle of their top franchisee. Mission accomplished: the magazine published a four-color cover featuring their franchisee Dan Rosen, fishing on his private lake with his beautiful lodge towering in the background. The editor had embraced the "castle that coupons built" theme. The inside story featured more photos of Dan in his chateau. What about the other franchisees in the article? The amateur snapshots of their owners were dwarfed in the feature article. What benefits were realized from this cover story? Reprints of the feature photo spread were displayed in the company's franchise packages for several years, impressing many franchise prospects. Second, Dan got tremendous mileage in strengthening his market dominance through this national publicity. What's more, he was most grateful for the major recognition and thanked headquarters numerous times for making it happen.

  • Burn those "grip it and grin" shots -- As a lead generation tool, there is nothing less imaginative and more boring for the public media than flash photos of franchisors and franchisees receiving awards. They are great for in-house newsletters, post-conference publications, and recognition for franchisee achievements in their local hometown papers. But for the professional media, these shots of handshakes are just another pile for their "round file." Their audience, unless they happen to be a relative or friend, could not care less.

How to optimize your online press

Press releases can produce franchise publicity and lead generation online. Yet many concepts don't optimize PR opportunities for franchisee recruitment by using search engine tactics to produce coverage on news sites, media e-newsrooms, blogs, and business and social networks. First-page PR positions on Google, Yahoo, or Bing can generate franchise prospects for franchisors. And whether you're doing this or not, your competition is.

Press releases may be distributed through wire services that push releases to online media outlets, and/or through services that post releases online through RSS feeds to search engines and news agencies. One service, Franchising.com (owned by Franchise Update Media Group), embeds inquiry forms into franchise press releases, directly generating online leads for their clients.

One of the critical factors for successful e-releases is your keyword selection and placement within your news story. Print editors personally read your content for relevancy. However, search engines electronically "read" your keywords for relevancy. This means newsworthy stories for the print world must be reworked to include multiple keywords that can increase your placements on search engines, portals, directories, and blogs.

Here are two simple techniques that can help increase your online placements among the millions of franchise prospects who read news on the Internet.

  1. Headlines: Always use your business category and the word "franchise" in your headlines, as in the following headline: "Duckie's Child Learning Franchise Reveals Ground-Breaking Study."
  2. Body Copy: Lace your story with popular search words and phrases for your franchise business, as well as for general searches of franchise opportunities. As you know, there are endless combinations, so pick the most popular in describing your concept. In addition to its name, Duckie's Child Learning could optimize their online press by selecting from among these keywords:

Business opportunities

Business opportunity

Business ownership

Childrens franchise

Childrens franchises

Children's franchise

Children's franchises

Child/kid franchise

Child/kid franchises

Childs/kids franchise

Childs/kids franchises

Child's/kid's franchise

Child's/kid's franchises

Child development franchise

Child development franchises

Child's education franchise

Childs learning franchise

Child's learning franchises

Child franchise locations

Childs franchise locations

Child's franchise locations

Franchise

Franchises

Franchising

Franchise business

Franchise businesses

Franchising business

Franchising businesses

Franchise opportunity

Franchise opportunities

Franchising opportunity

Franchising opportunities



This is an excerpt from my Amazon.com best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

Published: July 5th, 2012

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