PRspectives BLOG

by All Points Public Relations May 22, 2012 All Points PR, Local Market PR
Chicago PR Firm Can Social Media Sell Franchises

For the better part of the last five years or so, franchise sales teams around the country have contemplated the importance of social media in the franchise sales process.

They've asked, "Is this the magic bullet?" And, they've pondered, "If I create an incredibly dynamic Facebook page, will I attract a greater number of qualified franchisee leads?"

The answer is "NO" to both these questions.

Like other elements of the marketing mix, it is important to put your best foot forward with a well-planned social media strategy that can be launched and maintained within budget. Similar to direct marketing, working with a public relations agency such as All Points Public Relations, or banner advertising, social media should be used as a call-to-action marketing tool, that promotes brand positioning and helps sustain and enhance brand loyalty.

There are several social media intricacies that make it unique, such as the fact that it allows proactive promotion, and reactive promotion, both relatively instantly without needing to bust through concrete barriers. But, social media needs to be weaved into overall brand strategies.

Social media is a MUST DO. It is a catalyst for sharing the good a i.e. news stories secured through public relations efforts can live longer lives by leveraging social media pages. And, social media is a way to offset the bad - i.e. responding to negative customer experiences.

All said, social media is an important part of enhancing the franchise recruitment effort, but alone, it is not the secret weapon that some are still confused about it being.

Is your franchise company prepared to move forward with a social media plan that improves franchise sales processes? All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-based PR firm focused on working with franchise companies, is experienced in planning, executing and driving powerful results with strategic social media tactics.

Give us a buzz and we can talk about designing a social media strategy.

by Jamie Izaks April 9, 2012 publicity, All Points PR, National Publicity
Chicago PR Firm Publicity

A Wall Street Journal front-page headline recently grabbed my attention. It read, "Is All Publicity Good Publicity?"

The answer to that in my mind is emphatically "No." This is especially the case for All Points Public Relations' clients. Our clients are businesses and entrepreneurs that are putting an incredible amount of energy, resources, time and emotions into their businesses. An erroneous or damaging story could have a significantly negative impact on their business.

How do companies that want good press ensure positive publicity locally and nationally? And, what happens when the unexpected occurs? How does a company mitigate or avoid damaging coverage?

Let's start with the first point made. When working with a PR firm such as All Points PR, a Chicago PR Agency] working primarily in the franchise industry, it is important that you make the team working on your account a full-fledged member of your inner circle, entrusting them with information and insights about your company. The good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, all the information that the team needs to accurately develop media strategies that drive positive results. Good **PR firms** can weave your good news into compelling media pitches, and can develop messaging needed to overcome any damaging information that may come to light through the press. Likewise, PR representatives worth their weight in gold can control the direction of coverage, managing the conversation about your brand so that only the news you want in the press gets to the press, whether through direct media pitches, press releases, social media, etc.

This leads us nicely into the second point discussed above unexpected occurrences that could lead to negative press. Here, your PR team moves into crisis communications mode. But, prior to that, a seasoned PR team will have already set down a foundation to make this work of managing a crisis as easy as possible. They should be able to call on media contacts to dispel any rumors, to squelch negativity brewing and to issue a media statement if needed. Secondly, a plan will be in place to overcome negative online fodder and to re-direct the overall discussion about the brand towards something more positive.

So, is any publicity good publicity? NO. Can you avoid damaging press by making sure your PR agency is "in the know" and is equipped to share accurate information? YES.

This is a 50,000 foot overview of a much more in-depth topic that we can discuss for hours, or for just a few minutes if you prefer. Give us a buzz and we can talk about designing a public relations strategy that fits your goals and gets you the good publicity you want for your business.

by Jamie Izaks March 13, 2012 press releases, grand opening support, All Points PR, Public Relations
Chicago PR Firm Crisis Communications

The other day I came across an article about why press releases are effective communication tools. I was particularly struck by the story because in this day and age of brevity everything the guest author wrote I agreed with regarding press releases.

Fact is: reporters, bloggers and producers use press releases to craft their stories. When written properly, press releases contain the who, what, where, when and how of the story. For instance, leading up to the grand opening of a new store, a press release can and should be written to convey the excitement the business has about welcoming the community in along with details about the owners/management team. The press release should be written in a way that conveys timeliness and proximity with a news hook that reinforces an emotional appeal that could convince a reporter to do a story.

Press releases are an important part in the publicity process. They are a support tool, but are not the answer to getting press coverage. Simply sending out a press release will not get you the result you want.

Your best results come from pitching the press with persistence and an emotional draw a hook that convinces the media to cover the story you are pitching. There is a whole art to pitching the press, but that's not what this blog post is about.

The proliferation of social media has shortened many of our attention spans to write and read press releases. Reporters aren't excluded from this. Very rarely will they read press releases sent to them out of the blue. They don't have the time to read press releases amid all the other research, interviewing and writing they are doing.

However, once you've convinced them to do the story the press release becomes their best friend and a crucial part of their information gathering.

Additionally, in some cases news organizations can use press releases as straight content for their papers and websites. Typically it is smaller market press that from time to time choose to run press releases as submitted to them.

Press releases become most effective for significant news announcements such as the launch of new divisions, new locations, new hires, grand openings, partnerships, franchise development, and charitable contributions. They can also be used in unfortunate times of business crises as a critical communication tool. Crisis communications plans always should have a press release component to keep the press accurately informed.

Keep in mind there are other communication tools that work, but when called for, press releases serve an important purpose. Encourage your PR firm to write press releases. If you should need help in this effort, All Points Public Relations welcomes the opportunity to show you how we can achieve your publicity goals.

by Jamie Izaks February 16, 2012 grand opening support, public relations, All Points PR, publicity
Chicago PR Firm Crisis Communications

When it comes to getting the buzz going for a new business, there is nothing better than securing publicity in the local press.

Depending on the business and the grand opening plans that an owner wants to put into motion in terms of events and activities, the publicity can take several forms. This may include publicity in local newspapers, magazines, online, television programs and radio stations.

Regardless, securing the kind of publicity that makes a difference is why you hire professional PR firms such as All Points Public Relations. Fact is, new businesses open every day. Sharing with members of the local media that you are opening a new business may get you a few mentions and brief articles, if anything. But, a publicist who understands what compels reporters and editors to write feature stories will find the right hook.

For instance, when we work with the press on behalf of our clients for new openings, we always share a noteworthy human-interest angle/hook that elicits triumph, motivation and emotion. We share story lines that demonstrate overcoming the odds, beating personal and professional challenges, and living out ones dreams to bring a new business to life, whether that relates to management or ownership.

We know that starting a new business comes from the heart and takes endless devotion, commitment and time to get off the ground. That emotional element is what moves the press to write stories that can connect with customers and create an opening sales swell. It takes skilled publicists at a talented PR firm to properly pitch the press, write impactful press releases and secure the coverage that generates responses and heightens awareness. The short-term benefits can have long-term impacts. And, the advantages of great press coverage largely outweigh what paid advertising will get you.

If you are in the process of planning to open a new business and are seeking grand opening publicity, All Points PR can help.

by Jamie Izaks December 23, 2011 All Points PR, Reporter, Media, Chicago PR
Chicago PR Firm

I have the utmost respect for the brainpower contained within the leadership teams at my clients' organizations. Many have either launched the enterprise, worked within the organization for decades, or have contributed significantly to the industries in which they work.

In fact, by most standards, they've achieved expert status in their given fields. They've written books, given powerful presentations, taught at universities, mentored and launched careers for others, and do all they can to stay up on the industry by constantly reading.

Knowing that they have a wealth of expertise and experience, as publicists we can leverage their intimate knowledge on a subject and position them for interviews more easily. It is helpful in both proactive media pitching, as well as reactive. In the first instance we are pitching reporters on ideas, in the latter, reporters have already began working on a story and are seeking experts for their piece.

Now, it should be said that these expert opinion/quote opportunities rarely result in full-feature stories on our clients. Rather, our clients are quoted as an expert, with their companies and specialties noted.

Nonetheless, it is a great way to build awareness and maintain visibility in an industry and reinforce the expert status.

Expert positioning isn't the only way to get the good word out for our clients, but it is a tactic that provides benefits on many levels.

by Jamie November 28, 2011 social media, national publicity, PR, All Points PR
Chicago PR Firm

I tuned in to CNN the other night to find myself once again captivated by the storm Penn State University officials have created for themselves.

What caught my attention this time though was the reporter in the field relaying her perspective back to the anchor in the studio. The journalist in the segment was on Penn State's campus. It was Sara Ganim, the local newspaper crime beat reporter who broke the story.

She's now become a contributing reporter for CNN. A small market newspaper reporter in central Pennsylvania is on CNN in just her mid-20s, leading the coverage of one of the year's biggest stories. It honestly elicits a rage of goose bumps.

As a former media reporter myself, and one who loved nothing more than breaking big stories, I am tickled by what Ganim has accomplished. She's talked about what it took to break the story. Good, hard core local reporting…knocking on doors, getting escorted off of private property, scouring through piles of police reports and keeping her nose close to the story's trail…all the things die-hard reporters love to do, but rarely have the opportunity to take on given the focus on news of the day stories.

These are the types of stories newshounds crave, and the best and brightest of them get done right. Sara Ganim dug deep, developed credible sources, connected the dots that led to extremely prominent figures, and by all measures was very responsible in her work.

I point this out because I am genuinely impressed with her work. I communicate with reporters everyday and it takes a special journalist to make me pause and appreciate their hard work and commitment to journalism.

Newsbreakers like Ganim are just the kind of contacts we like to make at All Points Public Relations. Our media relations programs focus on building trusting relationships with high quality reporters, which we cultivate by bringing them storylines we develop for our clients.

by Jamie November 16, 2011 grassroots pr, public relations, PR, All Points PR
Chicago Grassroots PR

KFC has its secret recipe. McDonald's claims possession of a secret sauce for its Big Macs. And, All Points PR has its secrets to success as well.

We usually don't share them, but I can't hold this one in any longer.

Granted, this is just one of the many strategic PR tactics we put to use, but few people know or associate this with public relations. However, time and time again it has worked.

At All Points we call it Grassroots PR. This Grassroots effort entails All Points "digging" deep beneath the foundation of communities to "plant the seeds" for growth.

Instead of talking in broad terms, let me give you a real world example.

A client of mine seeks to expand his franchise's footprint into a new market – Springfield. One way All Points PR could tackle that for this client would be to employ a Grassroots PR approach.

Here's what it would entail:

  • Researching the community-based economic and business leaders in the area
  • Connecting with them to set up in-person or phone meetings between their organizations (Chambers of Commerce, economic development offices in the city and/or county) and my client
  • Coaching the client to convey the right messages for that meeting, as to elicit a response from the organizations that will help share the franchise investment opportunity with their close contacts in the community

These are great opportunities to generate press coverage as well, with the meetings/conversations serving as extra credibility for the growth plan intended for the region. Clients learn a lot more about the growth markets they are targeting, and can gain insight into special support systems in place for investors, i.e. funding support and tax breaks being offered by municipalities.

In our work, this Grassroots PR approach has proven to generate new, quality franchise leads and result in signed agreements.

All Points Public Relations has more information to share with you about our comprehensive public relations services, including Grassroots PR. We'd be happy to share our own achievements with this tactic.

by Jamie October 24, 2011 local market pr, PR, All Points PR, Public Relations

A good portion of All Points PR's business is outside of Chicagoland and even outside of the Midwest for that matter. But I am no fool when it comes to the importance of focusing a strategic PR campaign for All Points right here in my own home market.

So, yes I'm marketing and activating programs to build awareness for the business to my niche industry and the national audience on several levels, but I'm equally as focused on heightening visibility in the Chicago suburb where I have my office and throughout the greater Chicagoland area.

I am thinking global and acting local (while still acting global too or in this case across North America).

Local public relations is a cost-effective way for me to spread the word, build interest and generate leads. Utilizing PR, I've secured feature stories in my home market that have resulted in new business opportunities. What happens is: neighbors, acquaintances and others in the community see the news coverage, spread the good word and inquire about our services. Seems like a natural chain of events.

However, all too often companies that do business outside of their own home market primarily forget that there is an audience right in their backyard.

Here in Chicago, we get the sense that United Airlines markets a bit differently to their hometown audience the same for Motorola and many others. They are passionate about their local customers, conducting PR campaigns focused on media coverage with major Chicago media and news organizations in the suburbs that many of their employees and neighbors read, watch or listen to on a regular basis.

All Points Public Relations has more information to share with you about our comprehensive public relations services, including local market PR. We'd be happy to share our own achievements with this tactic and the successes we've had with it on behalf of our clients.

by Jamie October 13, 2011 crisis communications, Public Relations, All Points PR

I agree with most when it comes to living in the now. Peace and harmony can be found if you go about life with your principles in tact while living day to day and minute to minute.

However, when it comes to crisis communications, you can't live for today, you are always living for the future, be it tomorrow, next year, or two minutes from now. Similar to other business strategies that you have to plan for, but different in so many ways because of the unknown. Crises are one of PR's great variables; you never know what may happen next.

Take a restaurant or a school food borne illness, injury, customer complaints, friction with social cause organizations, and more. The possibilities are endless.

How do you work today to plan for the unknown?

I broached this topic with a client of mine recently and we talked about many of the things we could do together to ensure that catastrophe wouldn't kill her business.

She works for a business-to-consumer company with storefronts nationwide. She was concerned about how to effectively communicate with customers, the press and the general public if ever the need would arise in a crisis situation.

We first started talking about who the spokesperson would be, the protocol for internal communication, employee reactions and press statements.

Then we turned to the cost-benefit ratio. How much would it take to effectively carryout a communications plan that covers all stakeholders and how would you quantify that with measurable results to come up with a return on the investment? All of these considerations must be taken in to account, along with the tactics to execute the crisis communications strategy.

One part of the discussion that really sticks out is when we got on to the topic of how social media plays a role in reputation management in times like this. You'd be surprised how much forethought needs to take place in order to keep concerned customers and the public at ease by using social media. And you know the public will be all over the sites if things go wrong in a major way due to a crisis.

So, lots to think about and consider for tomorrow, today. And, don't forget about the role of technology. Press conferences and press releases used to be the only way to communicate. Now, video is so instant that putting a spokesperson on every computer screen in America with just a few minutes preparation time is 100 percent viable.

All Points Public Relations has more information about our crisis communications planning on our website. We've been creating contingency plans for companies for nearly 10 years as part of our collection of comprehensive PR capabilities.

by Jamie September 23, 2011 business networking, public relations, pr industry, all points pr
Chicago PR Firm

Thank you to Lake Forest Graduate School of Management for a wonderful alumni networking event this evening. For those of you in the Chicago area considering an MBA with practical application to your careers, I highly recommend it. It has helped me beyond measure.

Talking to attendees there tonight got me thinking about being a good networking partner. With the launch of All Points Public Relations I've been doing a lot of networking. Relationships mean everything for business startups and my situation is no different. Someone knows someone who knows someone. This very scenario has helped me land some of my first few clients.

Only a month in, I know I need to start to give back. And, I've begun doing so. In previous jobs I always networked to meet new people, share ideas, make connections for others and often bring in new business to the company I was working for at the time. But as a business owner, networking really takes on new meaning.

It's my livelihood now. Connecting colleagues in franchising; connecting fellow alumni with potential job opportunities; reaching out to strangers who I've been advised to connect with on the phone for new business lead purposes. The give and take of networking is 100 percent a necessary balance. Networking has been the single most important factor in gaining ground with All Points each day.

In my first month as All Points PR I've had the good fortune of connecting with a few folks who have been of great help. I'm now more focused on giving back. I kind of feel like it's a game of pay it forward combined with pay it back, helping others you come into contact with as well as returning the favor to those that have helped you already.

Thank you to those who have made very meaningful connections. I am by your side in business and will do what I can to reciprocate. And, I pledge to connect others with my contacts whenever I see the benefit in it for both contacts of mine.

I hope this helps those of you reading the blog understand the importance of networking…so feel free to give me a buzz because I may already have a client waiting for you.




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