Stand out in a crowd: 

Create positive publicity for your franchise business and personal brand.

By Heather Ripley

“There's no such thing as bad publicity,” P.T. Barnum supposedly said. In today’s world of sudden social media infamy where one misstep can outrage hundreds of thousands, few business owners would believe that. Successful franchisors or franchisees are increasingly aware that their brands and reputations are just as important as any services they provide or products they sell.

Negative publicity can hamstring your franchise growth and scare both customers and potential franchisees away. A bad reputation is a business killer. The best defense against this, however, is taking a proactive approach to generating positive publicity, which is easily done with a well-defined franchise public relations strategy.

Free Coverage vs. Paid

Positive publicity is also one of your strongest marketing tools. With growing competition in the marketplace, companies must differentiate themselves or suffer the consequences. So, how can your franchise business stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace? By earning media coverage, you can raise brand awareness, stand out from competitors and turn inbound calls and web traffic into loyal customers. Public relations should be a central focus of your franchise development strategy.

“That sounds like too much work,” you might say. “I could just buy an ad.”

Studies have shown, however, that earned media -- publicity gained without paying directly for it -- is viewed as the most trusted and authentic form of marketing. It can be more effective than paid media. Anyone can buy an ad but convincing a journalist to tell your story increases its credibility.

A well-defined public relations strategy can help earn that free coverage. It can also help maintain a strong market presence over time. This will lead to more and more leads as qualified franchisees visit your website or call your phone number.

Become the Expert

The first step is to establish your credibility as an expert in your field. If the press and trade media consider you a subject matter expert, they rely on you to provide reliable and well-versed news, valuable quotes and inside information about the industry. 

Getting good press creates unbiased, third-party documentation of your success. Potential customers and investors will investigate what the media and other unbiased third parties say about your company. A good review is a vote of confidence.

Cultivating relationships with specific media and publications is a time-consuming process. You can begin regularly sending press releases out positioning your business as an expert in your field. Using a public relations agency that really understands the franchising industry and has a general grasp of franchise law can give you a head start. They can leverage existing relationships with editors and reporters from the general media and trade publications.

Producing and promoting press releases and blogs and scoring interviews and bylines for your franchise and franchisees will increase your internet marketing reach. This will earn your company higher rankings in internet searches. If you’re not showing up in Google News, influential members of the market media are not going to be paying attention to your company.

Primarily, it takes a consistent social media strategy and persistent outreach to the media and the public to ensure your chosen message is spread.

Blog and Post

You should consider establishing a blog. The better the blog content, the more likely your target audiences will be able to find it in search results. Once you understand your target audience’s content wants and needs, you can produce better tailored content to appeal to it. It creates a virtuous cycle. The more popular your blog, the more likely people will find it and the more likely you’ll be considered an expert in your market.

Once you’re regarded as an expert, people will begin following you on social media and take an interest in what you have to say. You can become their source for key industry news and observations.

Be Seen

Learn to like trumpeting your own success. Don’t be afraid to compete for industry awards, which will get you noticed and provide instant fodder for positive news coverage.

If you want to be an expert, act like one. Submit proposals to speak at key trade events. There are not many more effective ways to position yourself as an expert among your niche target audience. The extra PR around the event and possible press releases to announce that you will be a speaker at the event will help to build momentum and get your name out there. It’s also a great way to generate sales leads.

Think Strategically

In the end, however, you have a business to grow and will have to decide how much of your time you can afford to directly invest into generating positive publicity. The most cost-effective way toward that goal might be to hire a franchise public relations agency with a proven track record. Think strategically and reap the benefits.

Heather Ripley is the founder and CEO of Tennessee-based Ripley PR, a national public relations agency specializing in franchising. She is also a guest contributor to


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