Happy New Year!
I'm sorry to start 2023 on such a negative post but as I'm trying to save franchisors potentially thousands of pounds, I hope you'll forgive me.
Let me start by asking, what do you know about UK copyright laws?
If the answer is 'totally up to speed, we have all the correct licenses in place' then I wish you a very Happy 2023; please let me know if you ever need PR support for your business. Farewell, Au revoir and my favourite, Tschüss!
If your reply is 'What is copyright law and why it would it apply to me?' then we might have a problem.
Now, let me ask you this: Do you ever achieve coverage for your business in any magazines or newspapers or even online? Do you get stories in What Franchise, Business Franchise or Elite Franchise or on their websites, or in other trade magazines or your local papers? Do you ever take photos of that coverage, or screen shot it and then share it on your socials or your website? If yes, then you absolutely MUST have the correct licenses from the Copyright Licensing Authority and the Newspaper Licensing Authority to do so, and if you don't, and they find your posts, you will be on the end of some hefty fines. How do I know? Because despite knowing all of this, I too, as a professional PR company, got caught and it cost me £1,000, so I speak from bitter, painful, expensive experience and I'd love to stop that happening to you too.
In a nutshell:
Once your press release, or a story about you, your business or your franchisee, makes it into a paper or onto a website, it ceases to belong to you, it belongs to the publication/website and, if you share a photo, or a screenshot of that coverage, even if you wrote every single word of it, (as I usually have), you are breaking UK copyright laws if you do not have a license to do so.
As you can imagine, I have this conversation quite a lot, following my fine, and these are some of the reasons people give me for sharing coverage without a license.
Excuse #1: 'But I've been doing it for years'
I have no doubt you have, but totally illegally, and the scary part is, the agencies can go back through your socials for SIX YEARS and fine you for every single illegal post you've ever done that breaks copyright law. I think it is approx £250 fine per offending post...imagine if you share every post across your website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that's £1,000 per 'infringement'. Now multiply that up across all the times you've ever shared coverage....and maybe your franchisees have done the same on their socials too? Doesn't bare thinking about does it?
Excuse#2: 'But I included a link to their website under my screen shot'
Yes, so did I. I did a lovely screen shot of an article my client got in the Daily Mail back when Linda Whitney was still writing the franchise column. I did a screen shot or a photo of the article and put in a link to the page in the body of the post....according to them, it still broke copyright laws and I still got fined.
Excuse #3: 'But I wrote it - those are my words - surely they belong to me'
They do when they are on your laptop, or on your website, but the moment they are posted on a media website or appear in a publication, they cease to belong to you and you will be breaking copyright law if you share it without a license.
So how DO I share my coverage legally?
Firstly, you could get a license but they are costly. The only way to share coverage legally, without a licnse, is to get the URL from the piece and copy and paste that into the post so that it creates a link directly to the piece of coverage. See my explainer video below.
How to do a copyright 'safe' share of your online coverage
Getting the correct licenses
They make all kinds of licenses - from allowing you to use coverage in socials to using them on your website. Before you start googling the NLA and the CLA, please go back through ALL your social media channels and website and remove any and all posts which go against copyright law. Sadly these people aren't a lovely friendly agency who will do an audit for you, allow you to remove the offending articles and send you on your way. The moment they find an infringement they'll fine you and start searching through all your socials, so stay well clear of them until you are 'clean'.
Also, I'm not an expert on algorithms but I'm fairly sure they'll know who's been researching the licenses on their website, which could form the basis of their next search? Maybe do it from your home laptop instead...?
As a PR agency I have always had to have licenses to send my clients coverage, but I now steer well clear of any copyright infringement areas too, and I'd strongly suggest you do the same.
Feel free to give me a ring if you need any clarification. I'm not an expert, just trying to help my fellow franchise community.
Happy New Year and have fun with your delete button!
The Elite Franchise Top 100 (EF100) is delighted to announce the Top 100 Franchisors list 2023 which
celebrates the best franchises in Britain. With the franchising industry continuing to drive economic
growth across the nation, over 700,000* people are currently employed in franchising throughout
the country. Established in 2017, the EF100 recognises and celebrates the industry’s leading
franchises. Entering its sixth year, the annual league table reveals who has made the coveted top
100 spots. To place first on the acclaimed list is an achievement sought by many. This year, Snap-on Tools has taken the top spot and will hold the title for the duration of 2023.
“Placing highly in the league is undoubtedly something to be proud of,” said Scott English, Brand
Director of Elite Franchise. “This year, entrants have been judged on our eight key criteria in addition
to the business plans they have put in place to ensure the current economic instability and lingering
impacts of the pandemic don’t hinder the growth of their business. The franchises on this list have
truly impressed us with their innovative ideas and positive mindsets – they deserve huge
Making up the top of the list is Driver Hire in second place, Home Instead taking third place, InXpress coming in at fourth and Water Babies taking fifth position. To be awarded a place in the top five is a remarkable accomplishment for these franchises who impressed the judges with their proven business models and adaptability.
Anita Roberts, Franchise Director at HSBC UK, was one of the 24 franchising specialists judging this
year’s entrants. “This year we evaluated a franchise’s ability to proactively tackle issues within our
turbulent economic climate whilst supporting their franchisees and the communities they serve. To
rank within the top 100 is a phenomenal accomplishment – it demonstrates their tenacity to add
value to networks inside and outside of the franchise industry.”
The highest climber since last year’s list is Puddle Ducks – from 44 in 2022 to 20 in 2023 - with the
highest new entrant being The Travel Franchise at position 17. The EF100 showcases a wide range of
successful franchises across numerous sectors, illustrating the abundance of the British franchising
industry. In addition to celebrating the best franchises, the EF100 acts as a guide for anyone
considering buying a franchise with the list providing an array of exciting opportunities.
“We are thrilled for every single entrant who has made the EF100. Every year, the ranking becomes
more competitive, and this year has been no exception. From hundreds of entries, the list showcases
franchises who have continued to provide exemplary services or products alongside substantial
support to their networks of franchisees. The 2023 EF100 list shows the best that the British
franchising industry has to offer,” added Scott.
The EF100 brands will gather at a celebratory glittering awards gala at The Tower Hotel, Tower
Bridge, London on 16th March 2023.
To view the full EF100 league table, visit elitefranchisemagazine.co.uk/ef-100/ef100-2023
*British Franchise Association/NatWest, 2018, Franchise Landscape.
Big Red Box PR is an official media partner of Elite Franchise.
ENDS DECEMBER 2022
When working with a franchise PR agency, time is money. Follow these suggestions to make sure you get the biggest bang for your monthly buck.
1. Franchise PR Review
A new PR will probably start your relationship by reviewing your franchise, your general brand image and your presence across the web, socials, etc. They’ll look to see what people are saying about you and how you respond to them. They’ll want to see what kind of stories you share on your blog and how often you post on your socials. Their job is to look at your business with fresh eyes and see how it comes across to potential franchisees.
Don't take it personally
If they tell you your website is letting you down, or you don’t post enough on social media or you need more content on your blog, listen to them. It’s not a personal criticism, they’re giving you their professional opinion based on many years of experience. It will also become the basis of their ‘To Do’ list for you. They can’t start doing a great PR campaign until your general brand presence is up to scratch.
Tip: I look at a new client like a house that’s being prepared to go on the market. Before I do a big marketing push (PR), to invite people (potential franchisees), to look around it I want to make sure the house (franchise) is decluttered, sparkling clean, smells good, looks good and looks warm and inviting to potential buyers. Franchisors expect new franchisees to hand over many thousands of pounds and trust them to help them build a successful business, why would they if your website is woefully out of date and is more Miss Haversham than House and Gardens? If it is evident you don’t look after your own business, why should they trust you to help them build theirs? Work with your PR to get your brand presence up to scratch before you start on your PR journey.
2. Keep your franchise PR agency in the loop
Make sure you tell your PR agency about every little thing going on in the company. We want to know about meetings, new contracts, awards, new staff, anniversaries and new initiatives. We’ll be in touch to drag this news out of you, but it makes it so much easier if you are proactive in getting these stories to us and saves valuable time. Equally don’t ask your PR to do menial tasks that could be done by you or one of your full-time employees. Only ask us to do the most important writing and creative tasks that you really can’t do yourself.
3. Signing work off
When you have started work properly and your PR asks you to sign off copy, make sure you get it back to them asap. It’s a waste of your money if we have to spend our time chasing you.
4. Amends to copy
The saying ‘why have a dog and bark yourself?’ comes to mind here. Whilst I’m not saying you shouldn’t have input and a view on what we write, making multiple amends to a press release or piece of copy uses up valuable time. Your PR is probably highly experienced in the sector, with, dare I say it, more experience than you, so trust them and their writing skills to get your story across. Unless you write for a living, it’s best to leave it to the experts. Of course we all make mistakes and that’s fine to flag them up and if any of the facts are wrong then you should 100% let them know, but other than that, it’s probably best to leave it up to them and you’ll get so much more work out of them.
5. Franchise photos
Your PR will almost certainly need high-res digital images to go with each press release. An editor recently told me he doesn’t even open press release emails unless there is an image attached to it, so your PR isn’t being difficult when they tell you they need a professional photo shoot for your franchise, or at least to supply them with some really great phone pics, they’re just giving you the benefit of their experience; no pics, no coverage.
'Tight, Bright and sh*te!'
They’ll also be able to advise you on the type of photo they want. Listen to them. Badly lit, low-res images without the branding in them are useless, they want what we call in the trade, ‘Tight, Bright and Sh*te’. It means people standing close together, in a well-lit location with big cheesy grins on their faces. If you have a franchisee that refuses to smile, choose another one. A bad photo can kill a good story. Equally a great photo can make a mediocre story. A good set of professional photos can be used again and again and are a great investment for any franchise.
Franchise brand awareness
Working with an experienced franchise PR can help you punch above your weight in the sector. We can give you a huge increase in brand awareness and credibility, keeping your franchise name on everyone’s lips; combined with digital marketing we can really bring your brand to life.