Training key to engaging new pool in franchising

If you don’t have world-best training supported by accreditation in modern day franchising, then don’t bother getting out of bed.

Gen Y will make up around 40 per cent of the Australian workforce over the next five years and already we’re seeing a jump in people seeking larger business opportunities in franchising. Unless you’re offering a career pathway that is supported by robust training and the opportunity to obtain a national qualification, you’ll fail to engage this next wave of budding “intrapreneurs”.

It may mean incorporating existing accreditation into your training program or pioneering a new qualification for the particular industry in which you operate. We collaborated with federal government and an Industry Skills Council to introduce the very first national qualifications to the pool and spa care sector last year.

However, nationally recognising the expertise and skills in your training program has business benefits beyond boosting market visibility among franchisee prospects.

It provides greater meaning to your training program for both existing and new franchisees, and encourages a higher skills standard across your network. Retaining highly skilled and more experienced people in your business will strengthen your position as a market leader through an improvement in customer service.

It also strengthens the credibility of franchisees in their local markets by giving them more accountability for what they do and an additional way to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Franchising is one of Australia’s strongest sectors because the business model offers a flexible, supportive approach to start-up enterprises. Training is the opportunity to teach new techniques and technologies and learn about innovations in the industry – don’t waste it on archaic methods.

Investing in modern training equipment and facilities that enhance the delivery of your training and education are key to your franchise network receiving a greater depth and breadth of learning.

In a highly competitive market, offering prospective franchisees the opportunity to enter an industry with the best training out there and a nationally recognised certificate gives them a huge boost at the start of their franchising journey.

This article from our client, John O’Brien, founder and CEO of pool and spa care franchise Poolwerx, first appeared on Fairfax’s Brisbane Times website.

Short-term pressure equals long-term gains

Ella-bache retail

Some commentators have said the 2014 budget is ‘tough but fair’ on businesses and consumers. I  agree to an extent – both from a retailer’s and CEO’s perspective.

While in the short-term the measures may put some immediate pressure on small business owners, I think this will be overtaken by the long-term benefits. Most importantly for retailers, the gain will be increased consumer confidence brought about by the assurance Australia’s economy is, in their eyes, ‘on-the-up’.

For now, making cuts to lower the budget deficit will mean less disposable income for many. However, we also know public sector spending needs to reduce. The government must drop its spending without dampening consumer confidence.

By the time many of the measures take full effect, the hope is consumer confidence will be stronger than ever, as will the government’s willingness to spend.

The health of the retail sector depends on consumer confidence. Retail sales has been growing over the past year, so it’s imperative the government reassures retailers its long-term strategy isn’t just rhetoric and actually delivers for retailers.

As for the immediate impact, it’s going to be a very different story depending on where you sit on the retail spectrum. Small businesses operating at the higher or premium-end will remain strong as household budgets tighten, with consumers looking to spend on durable, high-quality purchases that will last.

Those operating at the lower end of the scale may be hit hardest at the outset as families and those receiving government benefits rethink every dollar spent. This will obviously be a huge concern for many small business operators falling into that category.

So what can small businesses in the retail sector do to put themselves ahead of the competition? My advice would be to continually innovate so loyal customers are given a reason to keep coming back.

Equally as important is the personal touch. People like people, so making sure the service you offer is second-to-none will stand you in good stead for the future. Your customers will tell their friends and family about you, helping your reputation, which will last well beyond the next few years.

Ultimately, we need to do all we can until the economic foundations of the country are stronger. If consumer spending is going to take a hit, we need to give consumers a compelling reason to shop with us. If your small business is going to prosper in the future, set the framework now. It’ll pay back well when the economic outlook is a little healthier.

This article from our client Pippa Hallas, CEO of leading beauty salon franchise Ella Baché, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

PR’s role in modern day franchising

CEO Champions: boosting visibility of senior leaders

CEO Champions: boosting visibility of senior leaders

Franchising and small business is a pretty dynamic sector of Australia’s economy, and that’s why we’re pretty excited to hear our clients speak of increases in consumer confidence. It means franchisors can start investing more in communications, to explore new ways to cut through the diverse and ever-changing media landscape.

While we’ve been exploring the following elements with our clients over the past few years, here are our thoughts on some trends we believe are shaping PR’s new role in modern day franchising in Australia.

  • Storytelling – Beyond boasting average sales growth or profit margins across the network, the prospective pool of candidates wants to know who your successful franchisees are, how long they’ve been with you, why they are successful and what skills they came with. These stories are far stronger than your product, and PR people will unearth those that are strongest separating your proposition from that of your competitors.
  • CEO Visibility – The very best franchise leaders will be those who dedicate time to helping PR succeed. This might mean making themselves available to offer industry business insights, or validating why their organisation supports its chosen causes. The leadership communicated to stakeholders through high CEO visibility, as we like to call it, also proves invaluable in attracting new franchise recruits, because passion attracts passion.
  • Visual Communication – While the press release is far from ‘dead’ in Australia, the point is brands using interesting and engaging multimedia such as videos and infographics are ahead of the rest. There’s more to media than printed news stories, and modern day PRs are multi-skilled with the ability to put together a video, from scripting to filming, editing and distribution with the same strategic thinking.
  • Thought Leadership – Leading franchisors have the unique opportunity to establish thought leadership in their respective industry. The right communications professionals have a strong understanding of what makes media tick, allowing them to create the thought leadership on your behalf.
  • Social Media – You may have a social presence, but it’s not merely enough. If your social activity doesn’t include strategies for energising and engaging your fans and followers across the key platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you’re stuck in the past.

PR communications is one of the most powerful ways to do something that is so fundamental in the franchising industry – sharing your company’s story and success with the right audience. Understanding it and utilising it to achieve your corporate goals will be a worthy investment in 2014.

Ignite PR works with Australia’s leading franchise brands providing strategic communications advice leading to both increased brand awareness and improved franchise development. Contact us today. 

You’re a winner. Congrats. Now what?

Maximising business award sucess

If you’ve just been voted the best in your industry, and you really are the best, you should know to leverage your podium position for all it’s worth.

Whether it’s operational excellence, marketing expertise or innovation, or a combination of all of these, highlighting a company’s core strengths will help improve its reputation. However, doing so with cut-through in a dynamic media world can be a challenge.

So how do you leverage an award win for maximum gain?

We’re glad you asked. PR has always been effective in building credibility for brands through – among other things – communicating key messages to target audiences. It’s no different when it comes to maximising an award win. PR people will extract the interesting information from a company’s success story and use it in a compelling way that actually generates awareness and credibility for the brand.

While you can’t straight up say you’re the ‘industry leader’ and expect people to believe you, good PR people will help you determine and develop key messages, identify your audiences, and then marry the two together through developing communication tactics that position your company in the public domain with this objective in mind.

For the past two years we’ve written successful award submissions for our franchise clients in the NAB Excellence in Franchising Awards and then gone on to leverage them to boost their company profiles and support franchise development. In fact, leveraging success at a local level and national level has been significant in helping our franchise clients attract high quality franchise candidates and grow their businesses in a competitive environment.

Here are a few of our tips on leveraging success:

1. Message (the what you’re saying bit)

Why have you been recognised? Cut to the core of why you’ve been recognised. It’s about the hard-hitting strategy underpinning success that media wants to report on, not that you provide unbeatable customer service.

2. Audience (the who you want to/should talk to bit)

You may have a larger audience than you first think. It’s not just about the people buying your products or services. It’s also about the people who work for your organisation, your suppliers, and other stakeholders who have an interest in your company.

3. Tactics (the magical part where the two link)

Media announcement – Taking your success story to mainstream media requires a different approach to industry media. The two have different interests and therefore your story needs to be told differently. PR people will help you do this.

Internal/stakeholder engagement ­– What’s going to resonate well with your stakeholders? Is it a simple story in the next newsletter or is it a short, sharp video production that visually showcases the personality behind the brand. Content is again key here.

New media opportunities – You’re the best, so position yourself as the best. Use your new credibility to seek new media opportunities for your key spokespeople to share your company’s leadership and industry insights.

If you’d like further advice on entering your company into business awards or leveraging your achievements, please get in touch with us here.

Ignite PR has successfully entered its clients into awards including FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards, BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards, BRW Fast Starters, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, BRW ANZ Private Business Awards and ActionCOACH My Business Awards.

Maximise award wins in the media

PR tips for award winners

Many of the key business and franchise awards are being announced and if you have been successful the win provides an excellent platform for PR exposure, especially in your local area. A lot of time and perhaps money was no doubt spent on preparing your submission so make sure you get the most out of your award win.  

Business achievements are well worth talking about and an excellent way to engage with your local customer base.

The success of a local business is generally of interest to the media but if you don’t share your news, you can’t enjoy the benefits of PR, so here are a few tips to prepare and maximise the opportunity for media interest in an award win.

Spokesperson and key messages:

Make sure you have nominated a brand spokesperson who is happy to talk to media and has a sound knowledge of the business. Whatever the criteria was for the award be willing to share detail with the media to prove why you deserved the win. Sales and growth figures aren’t always necessary but a % growth figure is always good to prove the financial success of your business, without giving away too much to competitors. Highlight any key initiatives or community programs that you participated in. Basically let the media know the five top reasons you received the award.

Preparation is the key: 

Preparing a release in anticipation of a win is sensible, as media hate old news so be ready to go with a professional release. If there were a lot of categories it is important to make clear your point of difference and have a strong lead. Once you have pitched your story the follow up is just as important, keep on top of your contact or your story might get lost in the hundreds of emails journalists receive each day. 


Low resolution, dated branding, closed eyes or wardrobe malfunctions are all common photo mistakes. Having a great photo is just as important as the story itself. Make sure you have a nice professional shot of the award acceptance or try a great shot in front of your store with clear branding.

Social Media:

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are perfect ways to talk to both consumers and industry peers about your success. Always include a #tags with Twitter or Instagram (e.g. #ignitepr #businessawards etc…) or the best way to get your post noticed on Facebook is an excellent photo.

Give the win life:

Apart from PR you can spread the word about your win by marketing it through a range of other mediums. Many awards come with a special logo that you can use so maximise it as much as possible. For example: put a news item about the win on your website homepage; include details in your email signature and on collateral i.e. brochures, letterhead etc; put a poster or sticker of the win in your shopfront; include details about it in a customer newsletter or letter to clients.

You’ve got to be in it to win in it and talking to a PR agency about the process can alleviate a lot of the stress in preparing a submission and harnessing the right coverage afterwards. Entering awards isn’t just about winning but also about being seen amongst the best in your industry, community or category. It also provides a great opportunity for you to review your business and processes and provide you with ideas to improve it.  If you want further advice on how to maximise a recent win or you are thinking about entering any awards Ignite PR can guide you through the process.



Social Media Age


If you haven’t already noticed social media looks like it’s around to stay. Choosing to ignore it could mean you are missing out on golden opportunities to communicate with customers, gain valuable exposure for your brand and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Whilst I am sure you don’t doubt the importance of social media it is time consuming, at times stressful and involves a whole hearted approach. So if you are considering tackling the world of social media here are a few good reasons to look at involving an agency.


Whilst it’s ok to sometimes post fun irrelevant updates too many businesses make the mistake of making these post’s the core of their content. The flip side to this is don’t want to flood your followers/friends etc. with all business and no pleasure either. It is all about balance and finding that balance is easier when you have a strategy. This involves planning content, knowing your audience and having social media guidelines for your business to follow.


These three letter acronyms are on everyone’s lips. If we had a dollar for every time we heard “I want to be the first listing on Google” we probably wouldn’t be writing this blog. Social Media Optimisation, Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing all go hand in hand when increasing your Google ranking. Social media plays an important role in keeping up to date information about your company online and accessible to potential customers, while assisting in flushing out negative sentiment that may be online about your brand. Social media enables you to utilise links and content that works with Google’s search algorithms. Remember, if Google rankings are your goal it should always be coupled with a SEM and SEO plan.

Rules of engagement

The experts in social media will be able to give you tips and techniques on handling social media engagement, good and bad. The potential for negativity is a real risk for any brand but it is not a bad thing if it is handled well and never ignored. Proper engagement and management is just as important as being on the platform. Followers of your page never want blatant advertising, narcissistic self promotion or constant pictures of your two pugs, not matter how cute they are. Keep it real always engaging and remember who you are talking to and why.

Choose your platforms wisely

While it’s great to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, have a blog and YouTube channel, unless you’re managing social media 24/7 – and let’s be serious who has the time- the result will be stagnant pages. Maintaining quality consistent content is imperative for social media success. An agency will be able to give you expert advice on what platforms your business should be focussing on and assisting in creating quality content for you.

Social media should be treated with as much care and scrutiny as any other form of marketing you decide to invest in. This is why you want to start it off on the right foot. Treat it like any relationship with your customers, and remember you don’t have a second chance at a first impression.

If you are looking at Social Media as part of your PR and Marketing strategy for 2012 contact Ignite PR & Marketing for more tips.

Image Source – Mashable Comics

Corporate casualty: the death of corporate wardrobe

What does your outfit say about you?

When uttering the words “work wardrobe” chills runs down my spine. There is no denying in the PR world the way you dress reflects the image of your agency and the style of clients you attract. Seldom would you come across any PR or advertising agency with a uniform so there is a certain amount of trust in staff to ensure they are reflecting the right image when it comes to dressing for work.

First impressions count and whether we like it or not it starts with how we look. It is a sad and shallow truth but when you work in a creative industry like PR these factors may not be a decision maker but they certainly weigh in when it comes to hiring.

Once upon a time corporate dressing meant a suit and business shirt for both men and women but the term ‘ corporate dress’ has been left to individual interpretation and there has certainly been a dress down movement happening in the work place. Casualisation of the corporate world is taking over, but is this a bad thing?

Casual dress Fridays are now the expectation in the Australian workplace. A survey conducted by TMP worldwide shows that 51.3% of males and 60% of female’s value being able to ditch corporate get up on Fridays; this was even more popular among respondents from the 18-34 age brackets. Clearly, we like to keep it casual so why is it still not widely acceptable to dress down every day?

Fashion is a form of self expression and intentional or not, our sense of style does show who we are and ultimately could influence how we are perceived in the workplace. Suits and ties are few and far between in the PR industry, so where should we draw the line when it comes to casual chic? How do we maintain our identity without losing respect from others in our industry or being unfairly judged by the corporate world? It comes down to fundamentals, knowing boundaries and keeping the bra straps well and truly hidden.

Recently, we have been working with local Brisbane fashion stylist Helen Moroney who knows all too well about those fashion demons most men and women face when deciding on what to wear and most importantly how to wear it. She shares some of her top tips for getting it right:

  • Know colours and styles that are best suited to you. The power of colour is immense and can make all the difference to an outfit and how you look as colour can influence your size, complexion and the amount of attention you receive. Helen offers excellent workshops on selecting the right colours and outfits to suit your body shape. If you are looking to jazz up the work wardrobe knowing what works for you could make deciding what to wear fun (and easy) each day.
  • Accessorise. Earrings, bracelets, rings, belts, bags and shoes are as important as the pants you might be wearing. In a stricter corporate setting it can be a way for your individuality to shine through. But remember, the key to any good outfit is knowing when not to overdo it, you don’t have to wear everything you own all at once. Tie in your colour selection with a belt, clutch or shoes that blend or match.
  • Shoes should always be polished, intact and never scuffed (remember people generally look at your face first, then your feet)
  • Ladies keep the mini skirt and cleavage for Saturday night! If it would make your nana blush leave it at home!
  • Mark Wahlberg is the only man allowed to bare his knickers for a job everyone else make sure your undergarments are well and truly hidden.
  • If you’re a low maintenance kind of girl when it comes to hair look into balayage colour technique, easy way to stay on trend with minimum effort!
  • Make sure you read your company policy on tattoo’s and piercing.
  • Boys and girls if you are keeping to the suit and tie choice make sure you have a properly fitted suit and choose a colour that will fit with a selection of shirt and tie combinations.
  • Always remember to dress to who you want to be.

It is all about boundaries at work and remembering that trends are great for weekends but not always for the office. If you have to stop and think “is this appropriate for work” it probably isn’t. Simple is always best and a traditional tailored look will always be acceptable in corporate and creative environments alike.

And if you’re still not sure seek expert advice!

Finding your Perfect PR Partner

Public Relations is a cost effective way to ignite your brand with the right audiences and it should be part of every marketing communications plan. But when is the right time to hire a PR agency and when and how do you find one that matches your brand?

Ask yourself this. Does your business have the capacity to fully manage PR efforts internally? Or, are you ready to take your brand to the next level by putting it in the spotlight?

The marketing function specifically is a specialist area and not all entrepreneurs or managers understand it fully, nor should they need to. This is why many look for supporting agencies.

How do I find a PR agency? Google search using key words relevant to your company like franchising, retail, pr agency. Or, research companies you admire or that are similar to you and look at who is doing their PR through their online press releases. 

But outsourcing to the experts is a tough decision to make. The PR agency becomes an extension of your operation. It speaks with media on your behalf and represents your brand. How do I pick the perfect PR match? Two words: experience and communication.


Are you a coffee franchise? Look for PR agencies who have worked with other coffee franchises before. They understand your needs, understand the market and will hit the ground running when they learn your brand. Look to see if they have hit results similar to what you’re expecting with your brand. This could be coverage in national newspapers or consumer magazines.

But don’t look past an agency that isn’t heavily experienced in your respective industry. The key to good PR is the ability to forge relationships with editors and broadcasters for your company and any agency with a good PR account team can do this well. Look for client testimonials from brands similar to yours, and see what they say about the prospective agency.


Good PRs have exceptional communication skills, so you be the judge. How did you feel the first time you spoke or met with an agency? Do you feel comfortable with them and excited about potentially working with them or do you feel like you’re being “sold”? If this is how they represent their brand, it’s probably how they’ll represent your brand.

Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about how they work. How often you can expect communication from them, particularly when it comes to activity and results. Ignite PR & Marketing sends weekly wraps of PR activity to all of our clients as well as monthly or bi-annual PR reports. We meet with clients monthly to discuss successes, challenges and any upcoming opportunities. We find that consistent communication with clients gives us the best opportunity to ignite their brands.

Our Director, Trina McColl, is always available to answer questions about how we can help ignite your brand. 

Ignite PR & Marketing is an established and experienced firm with a strong background in both franchising and retail services.


Two brains are better than one: The benefits of brainstorming

Public relations is an industry in which professionals must constantly develop creative solutions to problems, generate clever ideas to increase brand awareness and find a way to make a brand newsworthy when in reality there may be nothing new happening at all.

This is where brainstorming steps in to make the impossible, possible. Brainstorming is where a group of people bounce ideas off one another in order to foster creativity and generate solutions to a problem. There are only so many times one person can pull new ideas out of nowhere and that is why brainstorming is such an effective tool in public relations.

The main aim of brainstorming is to build on and extend others’ ideas. It is quite common for a number of ideas to be rolled into one. It’s not about one person coming up with the best idea.

In order to get the most out of an idea generation session consider the following tips next time you sit down for a brainstorm.

  1. Know what you want to achieve- have a goal or outcome that you want to achieve from the creative thinking session.
  2. Set a time limit.
  3. Conduct the brainstorm in a calm and friendly environment.
  4. Have one person record the ideas on writing materials that can be seen by all such as whiteboards or easels.
  5. Create a relaxed space that fosters creativity and playfulness. Provide things such as food, comfortable chairs or a talking stick or object (a ball is easy to get around a room).
  6. Focus on quantity of ideas.
  7. Have people brainstorm individually before the creative thinking session then come together and build on these ideas as a group.
  8. Refrain from judging and/or criticizing others’ ideas.
  9. Only sort through and narrow ideas at the end of the session.
  10. Encourage creativity. It’s equally as important for participants to come up with reasonable, valid suggestions as it is for them to generate crazy and outlandish ideas- sometimes what may seem like a wild idea at first is actually a great solution to the problem.

There are also patterns that arise in creative thinking sessions that hinder the process so make sure to look out for the following during your next brainstorm.

AVOID :  groupthink

  • “Groupthink” occurs when a team of individuals settle on a single idea rather than continuing to generate new ideas as the single idea was accepted by the group as a good solution. This act boils down to a person’s desire to be socially accepted by their peers. Individuals would rather agree with something they don’t whole heartedly believe in than risk exclusion by challenging an idea.

AVOID :  social loafing

  • Social loafing can be explained like this: put one person in a room by themselves and give them a task with a deadline. Then put two people in a room and give them the same task and deadline. Who will be more productive? The team or the individual? Social loafing is when individuals put less effort into a task due to working in a team.

SOLUTION: mind mapping

  • Mind mapping allows for ideas to be generated individually before the group comes together to brainstorm. It involves writing down a word or phrase and getting each person to build on the original theme and map out their thought process. Everyone then brings their mind map to the group brainstorm and after all the ideas have been shared, the team can evaluate as a whole. This reduces the risk of groupthink and social loafing.

Check out some other great articles on brainstorming :

Driving award success with PR

Late last year we gave you tips on how to prepare a great award submission. Last week we put together a list of some of the business awards coming up across a number of categories this year including the BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards and Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards. We also talked about how entering awards can benefit your business but what we’ve only touched on is how to maximise award success and leverage the credibility that comes with it. 

We’ll touch on a few common tactics used and you’ll learn that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re first or fifth. What does matter is timing, making sure your tactics are prepared and executed on time so you’re not announcing your success when it’s too late.

Before the winners are announced

“Congratulations”, says the email. “Your company has been shortlisted for the 2012 Amazing Company of the Year Awards”. Some awards will let you know you’re in the running which means it’s time to put your PR hat on.


Prepare your message. Be clear on what to say if you win. Firstly, the General Manager or CEO should be the nominated spokesperson for interviews. Some key information you should have prepared are company initiatives (ie the projects that won you the “green” award, for example), sales and profit growth (it might not always be appropriate to boast your exact figures but % growth still shows your company had a strong year) and the other elements contributing to your company’s success.


Prepare a media release. In the weeks or days leading up to the announcement prepare a media release detailing all the above juicy information about your company. What is it that really differentiated your company in the market that year. This is what you’ll use to send information to journalists and key media contacts and it should be ready to go out as soon as the announcement is made.

Look for relevant features. BRW sends all shortlisted franchises an editorial survey to complete prior to the announcement of its Fast Franchises List. If you get an email like this make sure you reply as your responses are used for feature stories. In fact, get in touch with any publication – print or online – that generally covers the award you’ve entered to ask about what feature stories it may be developing and if your company has experienced the trends or themes they’re writing about let them know.

After the winners are announced

Pitching. Get your media release out to all contacts relevant to your award. Everyone will be doing this so make sure your point of difference is clear. Continue to follow up with your contacts keeping in mind what it is about your company’s success that is most interesting to what they’re writing about.

Credibility of an award. Winning an award highlights you as an industry leader or innovator and has the potential to attract new clients and customers. Let stakeholders know – customers, suppliers etc. All suitable touch points of communication (company website, email signatures & business cards, company letterheads, newsletters, collateral and brochures) should mention your win also. Use the award’s logo and a brief line similar to as follows. ie. 2012 Small Business Awards Winner (logo).

Social Media. Social networking sites are another great way to reach out to your audience (ie. use hash tags likes #telstrabizawards on Twitter or announce your win on your business’s Facebook page) and share any exposure you may receive as a result of your award success.

Not the best but among the best

We encourage our clients to enter awards that are relevant to their respective industries. Often, companies won’t enter awards if they don’t think they’ll win. Our experience has proved it sometimes doesn’t matter if you win, so long as you’re seen among the best.

Two of our clients made the 2011 BRW Fast Franchises List last year. Pool and spa care franchise PoolWerx made the list for the eighth consecutive year while home appliance rental franchise Mr Rental made it for the first time and we achieved positive coverage for both of them for very different reasons. For PoolWerx, it was about what the company was doing to remain at the top for a number of years. For Mr Rental, it was about what strategies over that previous year had lead to its business success and resulting recognition among the top franchises in Australia.

Over the past five years, Ignite PR & Marketing has had success entering its clients  in awards including BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards, BRW Fast Starters, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, BRW ANZ Private Business Awards, ActionCOACH My Business Awards, Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards. If you’d like further advice on entering your company in business awards get in touch with Ignite here.