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Good News Partners: All Points PR Builds Up Community for Positive Impact

Good News Partners: All Points PR Builds Up Community for Positive Impact

In continuing our agency’s mission to make a positive impact on the communities where we live and work, our team assisted Good News Partners in remodeling tasks for their facilities as part of our Q3 Positive Impact event.

Good News Partners is a non-profit organization committed to ending homelessness in Chicago. As the #1 champion for quality of life, Good News Partners elevates those in need through dignified housing. They provide otherwise homeless families with a step-by-step transition from interim housing to true independent living, ensuring they have the support and tools needed to jump-start their lives.

Our agency broke into teams to work on dismantling old bunk beds and play area in the New Life Interim Housing shelter, as well as constructing new bunk beds and additional cleaning in the Jonquil Hotel single room residency. We left inspired by their passionate staff and grateful to have made a small impact in the great work they are doing.

Making a difference in the Chicagoland community is a core principle for All Points PR, and we strive to make a positive contribution through our quarterly Positive Impact program.

Check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office, and click here to learn more about the Positive Impact program.

COO’s Corner: Support Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

COO’s Corner: Support Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

It’s a new era for mental health. Never before have mental health challenges been more prevalent across the country. One study reported 76% of workers experienced at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the last year, supporting the notion that mental health challenges impact nearly all of us on a regular basis.

Our agency continuously promotes the physical and mental wellbeing of our staff by creating a culture of acceptance and access to resources. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Day, I want to share my thoughts on the importance of creating a supportive company culture that promotes mental health.

Understand how mental health impacts our employees

Understandably, poor mental health and stress can have a negative impact on employees. It can impact their productivity, engagement and communication. Strengthening overall mental health is critical to help support our employees to be happy, self-actualized individuals. It’s important that employees feel safe and satisfied at work as they do in other areas of their lives for their personal wellbeing.

Our agency strives to foster a company culture based on trust and compassion. I have an open-door policy and encourage my staff to come to talk about any concerns or personal implications that impact their work lives. There is no stigma and no judgment in regards to mental health.

Prioritizing mental health coverage in our health care plan

The most vital action an employer can take is to offer resources for mental health. Healthcare is part of mental health, so when choosing a healthcare plan, we prioritized one that offered higher coverage, including mental health services.

Additionally, mental health is strongly linked to physical health, and as an agency, we want to support our team’s healthy lifestyle. That’s why our office reimburses for gym memberships, to encourage our staff to get active and clear their mind.

Offer Tips and Strategies 

Since the start of the pandemic, I incorporated weekly staff emails sharing important updates, resources and tips. In my latest email, I shared a piece of inspiration that I recently learned in a yoga class.

Like many, I often feel like I am running out of time, but that is not true. I just need to take a deep breath and relax. I was taught to say “I have” while breathing in and on the breath out say “time.” Again, breathe in “I have” and exhale “time.” Since learning this technique, I have used it frequently and find it helpful and calming. Try it out and see if it does the same for you.

Sustainable Ways of Working 

A critical component in promoting positive mental health practices is providing flexibility and sustainable measures to set employees up for long-term success. A saying that we live by at the agency is, “This is PR, not ER.” Our agency promotes a positive work-life balance where we don’t encourage working nights or on the weekends. Additionally, we offer generous PTO for a much-needed break.

We’ve permanently implemented a hybrid structure, with team members splitting their time working in the office and at home, which provides an adaptable environment and enables staff to be the most effective.

All Points PR prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our staff. We’re committed to doing our part to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. My door is always open if you have any questions or concerns.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

AP University Hosts Illinois State Students for Agency Visit

AP University Hosts Illinois State Students for Agency Visit

Following the agency’s first summer internship program, we’re thrilled to continue nurturing our relationships with new talent through AP University.

AP University serves to establish meaningful partnerships with universities through on-site classroom and student organization visits, speaking engagements and agency tours.

We recently hosted Illinois State’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to give an inside look into a day in the life at All Points PR. The group met with fellow ISU alums, Director JoeyLauren Jiracek, and Public Relations Associates Alana Guggenheim and Sarah Lisewski, along with Creative & Digital Account Lead Jonathan Bazar.

After introducing our integrated approach and franchise growth-driven client base, Alana and Sarah shared their look into the public relations associate role. Our agency schedules days with morning and afternoon threes, prioritizing three main goals in the morning and afternoon.

To test their skillset, our team put together a pitching activity for our PRo Community Project client, Erika’s Lighthouse. The students paired up to draft a media pitch targeted at Chicago-based and national reporters and producers in the TV, print and podcast space. With preliminary information provided, the pairs were given creative freedom to do their own research and draft a note specifically to a reporter. The group then came back together to read their pitches to the group and receive feedback from professionals in the field.

As upperclassmen begin applying to summer internships and entry-level jobs, our COO and Executive Vice President Lauren Izaks shared interview tips and what she looks for in APPR candidates. Being successful at All Points—and in public relations in general—requires excellent time management skills, strong writing abilities, people skills, persistence and passion for news. With plans to add to our team and expand our internship program next summer, this workshop shared future opportunities available down the road.

Director’s Digest: Writing a Winning Award Submission

Director’s Digest: Writing a Winning Award Submission

Winning awards as an organization earns widespread exposure, enhances brand awareness and validates your market position. However, earning these recognitions is a highly competitive process, so your application makes or breaks your opportunity to earn these benefits.

We frequently use our industry and client-specific knowledge to craft stellar award submissions on our clients’ behalf. With our assistance, clients have earned first-time recognition or have climbed significantly on key rankings such as the Entrepreneur Franchise 500, Franchise Times Top 200+, Fast Casual Top Movers and Shakers and more.

Here’s how you can stand out from the crowd and submit an award-winning award application.

Research Opportunities

To take home the gold, so to speak, you’ll spend a great deal of time and resources writing and collecting the information needed for submission. For this reason, you should think critically about your chances of being considered, the exposure the award will bring and the necessary materials needed for submission.

Begin by researching the award and previous winners. Does this award carry weight in your industry? For example, each year, we nominate several clients to Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list, considered the world’s first, best and most comprehensive franchise ranking. This list validates our clients as a prime franchise opportunity.

Have a Story Worth Telling

The fundamental part of any application is answering the why—why does your brand stand out among the other applicants? Many of our clients leverage systemwide growth, brand innovation, corporate support and strength to support their application.

If you truly believe your brand has what it takes, gather your team and brainstorm what you should include. What are you doing that your competitors are not? How can you quantify your success and communicate results? Once you determine what information you need, go out and source it.

Put Yourself in the Judges’ Mindset

When drafting a submission, always keep your audience in mind. Read the criteria thoroughly to determine what the judges are considering. With thousands of submissions to weed through, stick to the facts and to the point with snappy examples demonstrating why your brand should win. Keep in mind your existing brand awareness with the judges in particular and start with the basics if necessary.

Getting your award application just right can equate to a valuable third-party endorsement that differentiates you from your competitors.

JoeyLauren Jiracek is a Director at All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

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NIFA Q3 Recap: IFA Strategy Update

NIFA Q3 Recap: IFA Strategy Update

Never in its history has the franchise industry been more engaged and more vocal about the issues facing our nation.

NIFA sat down virtually with IFA President and CEO Matthew Haller for its Q3 gathering to discuss current IFA initiatives and provide a window into what’s happening in the political sphere. It was an educational event ending with a town-hall Q&A, where franchisees and suppliers had the chance to ask Haller their top-of-mind questions.

Haller discussed the massive shift in political agendas, as franchising remains in the crosshairs on several fronts including, labor, tax proposals, and other small business issues. Just this week, the House Ways and Means Committee released the first draft of tax provisions included in the Build Back Better Act, a $3.5 trillion spending package. The IFA continues to monitor how pending legislation like this directly impacts the franchise realm.

In continuing their mission of P.E.P.—protect, enhance and promote franchising—all IFA priorities relate to one or more of these pillars. The IFA will debut their 2021 Franchise Census, a first-of-its-kind survey to share the true story of the franchise business model and ownership.

With over 3,000 franchise owners surveyed, the census came to five conclusions:

  1. Franchises are more diverse than most people recognize
  2. Franchises offer better pay, more opportunity than other small businesses
  3. Franchising is an entrepreneurial engine for growth and jobs
  4. Franchising expands opportunities for women and people of color
  5. Franchises are good neighbors

This data serves as the kickoff to the Open For Opportunity campaign that will highlight the faces of franchising that are as diverse as our businesses. By providing meaningful jobs and resources that equitably uplift our families and neighbors, we generate opportunity, stability and wealth for the next generation to build a more equitable, better tomorrow.

We want to thank Plante Moran for its support in making this event possible. Plante Moran’s franchise-focused team is dedicated to providing audit, tax and consulting services to the franchise industry with an understanding of the unique nature of franchise operations.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend or would like to view the discussion, click here to download the video recording.

To further foster these connections and share best practices, we encourage anyone who would like to stay connected to check out our NIFA LinkedIn group.

Looking ahead, we are planning wonderful events for Q4 and into 2022. We encourage anyone with topic ideas and sponsorship questions for future events to reach out to Lauren Izaks directly by clicking here.

Visit www.northernilfranchise.org for more information about the organization.

COO’s Corner: Fostering a Culture of Leadership

COO’s Corner: Fostering a Culture of Leadership

Companies that make leadership development a strategic priority attract and retain the best talent. Often, it’s a strong leadership team that makes an organization.

At All Points PR, leadership is engrained in all of our employees, at every level. We foster a culture of leadership across the agency through mentorship, recognition and investment, both professionally and personally.

Mentorship

Mentoring is critical in helping mentees and mentors develop leadership skills in a variety of ways. One of the key benefits of mentoring is developing and refining mentees’ leadership philosophies.

At All Points PR, we implemented this idea through our mentorship program. Each team member chooses a mentor from the very beginning of their APPR career to talk through challenges, give advice and serve as another resource for help. Mentees become mentors, continuing the cycle and passing on wisdom to the next group of young professionals.

Recognition

Quality leaders encourage their teams to recognize one another for their achievements. By recognizing your employees for the work they’re doing, you will instantly boost employee engagement and morale.

One small, yet effective way we praise your team is through publicly acknowledging a “win of the week.” Since highlighting accomplishments though agency-wide weekly email updates, All Points employees have jumped at the chance to submit each other for the honor and work to earn the honor themselves.

Investment

There’s no better way to nurture employee leadership than investing in their potential. As an agency, we’re always looking for learning opportunities for our staff. Many have taken courses and attended leadership conventions to expand their skillsets. By offering employees additional training opportunities, we’re investing in the advancement of their careers while adding value to our clients. 

We are fortunate to have the ability to continue to grow our team. Be sure to check out our current job openings here to become the next era of APPR leaders.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

July Seminar Recap: To-Do Lists are Key for Efficiency

July Seminar Recap: To-Do Lists are Key for Efficiency

How effective is your to-do list? Does it help you prioritize your day, or is it a never-ending list of tasks that always roll over into the next day? In this month’s agency seminar, Senior Director Bailey Hewitt, PR Account Leads Nicole Odziewa and Rachel Nehring and PR Associate Emily Cashen discussed how we can organize ourselves for a more productive work week.

Organization is a key part of our agency systems and processes. We set ourselves up with strong to-do lists in order to maximize communication efforts and work smarter—not harder. The team shared several organizational methods to help set our team up for success.

Personalize Your Method

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to organization. What works for one may not translate for an entire team. Whether your method is making a checklist or blocking out tasks hour by hour, creating a clear system to manage your various tasks for the given week is essential.

Stay on Top of Your Day/Week

It’s important to set time at the beginning of the week to get organized for the days ahead. Create a weekly plan with tasks slotted for each day. While we can sometimes plan for items several days or weeks in advance, others will pop up as the day goes on.

As an agency, we use the phrase “plan for the plop,” which means leaving flexible time in your schedule to handle anything that “plops” onto your plate unexpectedly. Daily and weekly lists are not static, and you’ll probably have to add and change things throughout the week.

Schedule Everything

Rather than collecting a large bank of tasks to get done throughout a full work day, some people benefit from scheduling everything into a dedicated time slot. Our agency recently made the switch to Google Calendar, which provides unique abilities to create personal calendars to outline your meetings, deadlines and to-dos.

No matter the method, keeping a prioritized list of the tasks helps manage time effectively and beats the work overload. If used successfully, you’ll be much better organized, ahead on deadlines and a more valuable asset to your team.

Be sure to check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office.

APPR Seminar: What You Didn’t Know About Organic Social Media

APPR Seminar: What You Didn’t Know About Organic Social Media

Our creative and digital team leverages digital communication strategies across multiple paid and organic channels by creating interactive experiences for a targeted audience, whether that be consumer or franchise development related. For this month’s agency seminar, five members of the APPR Creative and Digital team shared the importance of organic social media and broke down how each platform can be effectively integrated into our client’s social strategy.

Creative and Digital Account Lead Marin McCall kicked off with Facebook, where users spend an average of 34 minutes per day on the platform and nearly 80% access on a mobile device. Video consistently outperforms images and text, with engagement nearly doubling that of text posts. As our clients look to grow their audience on Facebook, it’s important to consider how content appears on mobile and other content mediums to generate greater success.

Next, we heard from Creative and Digital Associate Dylan Pashke about the impact Instagram has on business accounts. With one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories coming from businesses, there is a strong opportunity for growth for our clients. In a recent update, influencers can now tag up to two brands in a sponsored post, a game-changing tactic for our influencer marketing tactics.

With much of our clients’ organic and paid social work focused on LinkedIn, Senior Creative and Digital Account Lead Spencer Abbott shared that people-centric content outperforms the rest. Content posted from personal profiles see 1.5 to 2 times the reach of the same posts from company pages. The greatest takeaway: posting more often from personal profiles and encouraging franchisees to share company blogs, photos and their experiences.

As the latest and continuously evolving social platform, TikTok is a break-out star, with 689 million active users worldwide. Creative and Digital Account Lead Jonathan Bazar shared how TikTok is shaking up social media with its worldwide presence and ability to connect with its audience on a more personal, relatable level.

Katie Lynn Rada, Digital Marketing Lead, jumped in with Google, which generates 93% of all web traffic. On the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67% of all the clicks, proving that SEO and applicable website content are key to get stronger rankings and traffic.

As an agency, we take a proactive role in promoting social media engagement. Throughout the week, each employee engages with a client’s social account outside of their organic social media calendar, with links to secured press, content marketing pieces or national holiday spotlights.

Be sure to check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office.

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COO’s Corner: Hiring & Retaining Gen Z

COO’s Corner: Hiring & Retaining Gen Z

Move over, Millennials. On the cusp of their professional careers, Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2012) is joining the workforce at an opportune time. As businesses continue to rebound following the pandemic, this presents a large array of opportunities for the next generation of employees.

Who exactly is Gen Z?

Don’t get confused; while Gen Z shares a number of characteristics with Millennials, their formative years have shaped different attitudes and outlooks on the world today.

Here’s a rundown of Gen Z characteristics:

  • Digital Natives
  • Visually Oriented
  • Financially-Minded
  • Shrewd Consumers
  • Increase in Mental Health Awareness
  • Politically Progressive
  • Diverse

Gen Z has the unique experience as the first generation to grow up with technology at their fingertips. They don’t recall a world without the internet, smartphones or social media. But tapping into this new generation of digital natives has become more strategic than ever before, even platforms like TikTok are piloting their own job site.

As our agency continues to grow, we’re thrilled to open our recruiting efforts to persistent, creative individuals with strong critical thinking abilities. We’re currently growing across all departments with opportunities in PR, content marketing, social media and digital marketing.

So, as businesses push to hire Gen Z, how can we attract them? To draw and retain this new generation, employers need to be more strategically personal, get social and promote opportunities for advancement.

1. Double-Down on Campus Recruitment

Gen Z is on track to be the best-educated generation yet, according to the Pew Research Center. Among 18 to 21-year-olds no longer in high school, 57% enrolled in a two-year or four-year college compared to 52% of Millennials in 2003 and 43% of Gen X in 1987.

For companies looking to recruit this demographic, establishing strong relationships with colleges and universities is a great pathway for referrals and connecting with up-and-coming talent.

At All Points, we’re committed to building connections with nearby universities through our AP University Initiative. This program is designed to strengthen partnerships with on-sight visits, speaking engagements and agency tours. Despite COVID, we’ve upheld our mission and hosted virtual tours and Q&As with our staff to educate the next generation of the public relations industry.

2. Use social media to enhance corporate culture

Considering their connection to the digital world, social media is the most ideal way to attract and engage Gen Z. Use this opportunity to your advantage by promoting your company across social channels, raising your awareness and showing off your company’s unique culture.

According to a survey by Tallo, 87% of Gen Z respondents feel it’s important to build a professional brand online. Take a page from their book and make sure that your culture is accurately reflected across all channels.

If you look at our social platforms, you’ll get a glimpse into the life at APPR. From employee Instagram takeovers to agency seminars, and appearances from our office dogs, Cubby and Ivy, we give a well-rounded perception of what our agency life is like. I always encourage all applicants throughout the interview process to take a look at our blogs, social media and website to fully understand the ins and outs of the agency and our clients.

3. Promote Learning and Development

Gen Z is highly motivated to grow their careers, with 76% seeing learning as the key to their advancement, according to a LinkedIn workplace study. As newcomers to the professional world, emphasizing growth opportunities is key to Gen Z retention.

We offer several programs across the agency for development, including our mentorship program and employee development courses. We see education as an opportunity to invest in our employees’ careers while adding value to our clients.

In reality, there’s no secret to success when it comes to hiring Gen Z professionals. This a dynamic and highly skilled generation of workers, and the best thing businesses can do is understand their needs and be ready to adapt to meet them.

Check out our current job openings here!

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

APPR Seminar: Idea Generators Are on the Way to Clients

APPR Seminar: Idea Generators Are on the Way to Clients

This month’s seminar, hosted by Senior Director Bailey Hewitt, set the tone for an exciting next few weeks to come. Our idea generators have been shipped to clients and will arrive shortly, and our team couldn’t be more excited to share what we’ve brainstormed together for our clients for the latter half of 2021.

As discussed in our most recent seminar, idea generators are part of our biannual planning process in a proactive approach for building integrated strategies for our clients. We brainstorm, design and present our ideas in a collaborative presentation as we lay the groundwork for the coming months.

With these presentations comes dedicated practice. Bailey led the team in discussing the wins and learnings from last year’s presentations. She offered tips and tricks for leading an informative, interactive and engaging client call that accurately reflects the time, thought and creativity that we infused into our Blueprints.

On a similar note, Bailey also refreshed the team on best practices for structuring our monthly update reports to better communicate the valuable results of our integrated public relations, content marketing and digital and social media initiatives from the idea generators from first half of this year.

We always strive to go above and beyond for our clients, and update reports are an excellent visual tool representing all aspects of our work and indicating the immense value our team provides.

Both update reports and idea generators present opportunities to showcase our hard work and creativity.

Be sure to check out All Points PR on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to keep up with the office.

COO’s Corner: Stress Awareness Month

COO’s Corner: Stress Awareness Month

April is stress awareness month, and I’m challenging you all to take a moment and reflect on your overall mental wellbeing. Stress is a natural part of life and can be motivating in the short term. However, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with long-term stress to remain positive, and productive.

Feeling burnt out or stressed can happen at any point in one’s career, and shouldn’t carry any feeling of shame or failure with it. In fact, you should feel the opposite—acknowledging that something isn’t quite right in your headspace is a first step towards making a mindful change.

Here are a few ways to help cope with stress related to your career:

Plan for the Plop

Planning ahead to stay organized can greatly decrease your stress at work. In our office, I use the phrase “plan for the plop,” which means scheduling time in your day to handle any unexpected demands that require immediate attention. That way, as things come up, you aren’t overwhelmed with working that into your list of priorities.

My biggest piece of advice for my senior staff and account leads is to write out a list of tasks for each client. You’d be surprised how much better you feel just writing a list and getting it out of your mind.

Radical Self-Care

It’s crucial to take time to rest and recharge. You have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to work on other tasks. Take this scenario for instance: if a road needs repair, the city will close it and repair it. If one aspect of your life is causing stress, you need to close out other things and repair it.

Take a radical approach to manage stress, whether it’s binging a few episodes of your favorite show while eating pizza or opening up a good book, pause and allocate time to fix yourself first. Remember, you’re doing your best. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and we all deserve a little compassion.

Working Out to Manage Stress

Stress doesn’t always begin in your head. Your body can have its own physical reactions that manifest in mental fogginess or unrest. To help cope, exercise your body to help your mind. Countless scientific studies have shown regular exercise can provide significant changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart and your spirits. Exercise has a unique ability to exhilarate and relax, to counter depression and stress.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

COO’s Corner: Refresh Your Workspace with Spring Cleaning

COO’s Corner: Refresh Your Workspace with Spring Cleaning

After a year of pandemic living under our belts, we’re probably all pros at scrubbing, disinfecting and using a little elbow grease. As our office transitions towards a hybrid model, a quick office spring cleaning is a fresh jump into sunnier days. It’s time to clean and organize your desk space, both at the office and at home. Check out our staff as they tidy up their workspaces and get more organized for the year ahead.

Lauren Izaks is the COO and executive vice president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

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APPR Seminar: Virtual Conferences and Webinars

APPR Seminar: Virtual Conferences and Webinars

The All Points PR team held our monthly seminar, hosted by Senior Director Bailey Hewitt with presentations from six other team members, on attending conferences and webinars. Typically this time of year, our team is just getting back from the IFA Convention after a week of learning and networking opportunities. This year looked a bit different, but five APPR team members virtually attended the IFA and shared their biggest takeaways from the sessions.

Bailey kicked off the seminar by discussing her experience with keynote speaker Seth Godin, who advised his audience to make a change by telling stories. So many of our favorite brands found success in telling stories. For example, Starbucks turned a traditionally to-go product into a destination with its push to meet a friend for coffee. As storytellers, it’s our job to create “a tribe of others” and tell people what’s out there.

Senior Account Lead Katie Gibbons sat in on Jimmy John Liautaud’s seminar. Founder of widely popular sandwich concept Jimmy Johns, the chain halted its franchising initiatives in 2003 due to failing stores. Jimmy John shared that of the 70 failing stores, most were not following the systems and processes set forth by the brand. As a franchisor, it’s important to look for franchisees who have a passion for the industry and want to get started for the right reasons.

Next, we heard from Senior Account Lead Mackenzie Coopman about the importance of creating a defined franchisee profile. Narrowing down the ideal candidate allows you to better target prospects—not just by who they are, but where they are. This includes looking at their soft-skill sets, values and backgrounds.

With so much of the franchise discovery process happening virtually, Director JoeyLauren Jiracek says that some virtual events are here to stay, even after the pandemic. Virtual Discovery Days allow potential franchisees to meet more team members. Video is becoming a necessary tool with virtual tours, follow-up messages and connecting with franchisees.

Additionally, team members Alana Guggenheim, Rachel Nehring, Cole Koretos and Jonathan Bazar shared insights from webinars hosted by Cision and Hootsuite on public relations and social media lead generation respectively.

As an agency, we’re always looking for learning opportunities for our staff. Many of our associates and account leads have taken virtual courses to apply their knowledge to our agency. By offering employees additional training opportunities, we’re investing in the advancement of their careers while adding value to our clients.

Be sure to check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office.

Director’s Digest: Spreading the Word on Signed Agreements

Director’s Digest: Spreading the Word on Signed Agreements

At All Points, we recognize signed agreements as milestone moments in our clients’ growth journey. A signed agreement is when a new or existing franchisee signs a development deal for a specific territory, and this is the first step towards ownership and the final step in a long line of work for the franchisor’s development team.

We work with brands to leverage these announcements and in turn attract more prospective buyers to the franchise opportunity.  So, how do we strategically spread the message far and wide?

Our integrated approach includes public relations, social media and content marketing working collaboratively to generate owned, earned and paid media. The goal is to leverage signed agreements and use them to showcase our client’s continuous growth and momentum.

Owned media tactics—including lead nurturing emails, blog posts and organic social media—are all created and controlled in-house. The more owned media channels a brand has, the larger their digital footprint, or the power to reach customers and followers. To increase organic impressions, we encourage our clients to share the announcement within their internal communications and encourage franchisees to share the news. Growth announcements benefit the entire franchise, as the brand continues to expand, so does their brand awareness and customer reach.

Drafting and distributing a press release to secure positive media coverage is how we leverage earned media. It’s important when pitching a signed agreement announcement to consider your audience. Is it to the franchise trades or a local business reporter? As always, tailor your approach towards a reporter’s beat to increase your chance for growth coverage.

Email blasts, banner ads, boosted social posts and other forms of paid media, help reach a larger audience beyond organic (non-paid) efforts. A small investment can have a large return, as it drives users to your franchise website to seek out more information on ownership opportunities for themselves.

No matter the tactic, make sure your messaging is consistent across the board. Highlight the caliber of people investing in your concept, and allude to the opportunity for others to develop with your brand. A signed agreement indicates a success story, so incite others to celebrate with you with each development deal that comes.

JoeyLauren Jiracek is a Director at All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

NIFA Q1 Recap: Franchise Growth Reimagined

NIFA Q1 Recap: Franchise Growth Reimagined

On Thursday, March 4, the Northern Illinois Franchise Association (NIFA) hosted its Q1 virtual event, “Franchise Growth Reimagined.” It was an informative event, centered on a variety of topics including refranchising, finding capital, reimaging and real estate opportunities. We’d like to thank all those who could attend for their thoughtful participation.

The event kicked off with insight from Danielle Scott, a partner at ZGrowth, on reimaging initiatives for Jabz as they refreshed their branding to appeal to a wider audience. The refresh realigned Jabz with current trends to compete with increasing competition. Finding financing for such reimaging opportunities is something that Ryan Linsky of Linsky Capital has seen, as franchisees look to fund these capital investments. Given the state of the economy, Linsky says lenders might not be as eager, but low interest rates make it a great time to refinance current loans.

Brian Kelley of Phenix Salon Suites discussed increased real estate opportunities with landlords eager to fill excess capacity. In some cases, landlords are reducing rent prices which makes it an opportune time to enter key markets. Jon Fischer of Wetzel’s Pretzels says landlords have been accommodating while high traffic areas like shopping malls were closed, but if you’re locked into a long-term lease, expect to only see a rent break for the short-term.

If you would like to view the discussion from the NIFA Q1 event, click here to download the video recording.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our panelists, Danielle Scott, Jon Fisher, Brian Kelley and Ryan Linsky for making this event possible. Your insights, strong connections and extensive knowledge of franchise growth, today and tomorrow, fueled a valuable discussion.

In honor of this event, the NIFA donated to the IRAEF Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. This fund provides financial support to restaurant workers in need as the restaurant industry continues to be impacted by the effects of the pandemic. We appreciate those who donated with us.

It’s important that we continue to foster these connections and share best practices in the new year. We encourage anyone who would like to stay connected to check out our NIFA LinkedIn group.

Looking ahead, we are planning several wonderful 2021 events and hope to see everyone in person in the near future. We encourage anyone with topic ideas and sponsorship questions for future events to reach out to Lauren Izaks directly by clicking here.

Visit www.northernilfranchise.org for more information about the organization.

The All Points PR Team Writes Letters to Healthcare Workers and COVID-19 Patients

The All Points PR Team Writes Letters to Healthcare Workers and COVID-19 Patients

While we remain socially distant in the All Points office, we stand together in our mission to support our community through our quarterly Positive Impact program. Our Lead Office Manager Kate Leve spearheaded the project, connecting us with an organization that allowed us to make a positive impact on healthcare heroes and COVID-19 patients.

Due to social distancing restrictions, our team explored digital opportunities to extend our philanthropic efforts. In Q1, we wrote letters to healthcare workers and COVID patients through Notes for Support to send thoughtful and encouraging messages to those most deeply affected by COVID-19.

Notes for Support, a student-run non-profit, helps encourage personal connections through the power of words, sent the old-fashioned way—and yes, that means snail mail. On Friday, January 19, we took some time to write heartfelt letters to be distributed to hospitals across the country. The APPR team wrote 98 letters in total.

Through this quarter’s Positive Impact program, we aim to thank those who have been tirelessly working on the frontlines and send words of encouragement to patients fighting the virus. Your organization can join us in our mission and send a message here.

Check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office, and click here to learn more about the Positive Impact program.

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APPR Seminar: The Guide to UTM Codes

APPR Seminar: The Guide to UTM Codes

The All Points PR team held our monthly seminar, hosted by digital marketing lead Katie Rada, on integrating UTM codes into our social and content tactics. Katie is one of our expert sources of all things analytics and will be leading the charge with transitioning clients over to this tactic.

Hear more from Katie about why we are integrating UTM links with our clients:

As an integrated agency, there’s a lot of moving parts that come together to produce positive results for our clients. Marketing analytics help us to maximize our strategy’s effectiveness and optimize content and paid social efficiency.

A UTM code is a simple string of values that you can attach to the end of a custom URL to track a source, medium or campaign name. As a visitor clicks a link, data is captured, providing details on how a person landed on the webpage.

The most popular UTM builder is Google Analytics. To build a tag, simply fill in your values to generate the link to include in your campaign. Once created, it’s helpful to convert to a short link such as bit.ly for ease of use and sharing.

UTM Best Practices:

  • Use consistent naming conventions. From capital letters to spacing, consistency is critical.
  • Keep a list of all UTM values used to share internally or with the client.
  • Use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from, how your channels and campaigns are performing, and even which links your visitors are clicking to land on your site.

Implementing UTM codes ensures we can properly attribute strong points of each campaign or initiative to their source. This practice will only create more value for our clients as we plan to utilize UTM links across social and content tactics.

Be sure to check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office.

President’s Point: How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Conferences

President’s Point: How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Conferences

With conferences shifting to a virtual format, there are new ways to branch out and connect with industry leaders from across the country.

Of course, attending a conference from your couch is much different than a large conference hall surrounded by your peers. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of virtual conferences.

1. Turn Off All Distractions

While you may think you’re an expert multitasker, try to limit disruptions. In order to get the most out of a virtual event, you have to give your undivided attention. Set your phone on silent, move to a quiet space and consider taking notes by hand.

2. Make a Game Plan

Just as you would before a big game, go in with a solid strategy to accomplish your goal of attending. Maximize your time and learning by selecting topics and sessions in advance. The point being: do your homework.

One advantage of a virtual conference is sessions are typically recorded and available for later viewing. You no longer have to decide between two sessions scheduled for the same time, and instead attend both at your own convenience.

3. Network Virtually

A large part of attending conferences are the networking opportunities. While we aren’t physically together, virtual conferences still offer opportunities to network.

If you attend a seminar where a speaker captures your attention, follow up with a message on LinkedIn. Utilize the Zoom or Google Meet chat functions to ask questions and connect with other attendees during the presentation. Post about your attendance on social media and engage with others using the conference hashtag. Since you aren’t physically seen, you have to be proactive to be heard.

4. Participate in Roundtables

Virtual roundtables are a great way to learn, share and network within the industry. When opportunities arise to voice your thoughts, make sure you’re not muted and are ready to share something educational, but not promotional. This isn’t time to be a company salesperson but a time to act as an industry leader.

5. Recharge In-between Sessions

Let’s face it—staring at a screen for extended periods of time is tough. Make time in between sessions to recharge by going for a walk, grab a snack or follow up with someone you just met. Taking 5 minutes to refuel can set the rest of the day up for success.

We’ll be physically back at conferences soon enough, but for now, we can appreciate the convenience of a lower cost and time spent traveling.

Jamie Izaks is the president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

APPR Seminar: New Organizational Practices to Set Your Team Up for Success

APPR Seminar: New Organizational Practices to Set Your Team Up for Success

The All Points PR team kicked off the new year with our January seminar discussing clear processes and systems to set us up for success. This topic truly excites Senior Director Bailey Hewitt and COO & Executive Vice President Lauren Izaks, who led the charge.

Both Lauren and Bailey highlighted how these organizational changes allow for more transparency across the agency. Collectively, there are many moving parts, and having easy access to information boosts our productivity and benefits our clients.

Here are the ways our agency freshened up organizational methods for the new year:

  • Continuing monthly computer checks as a proactive approach to avoid major computer malfunctions
  • Transitioning file storage to Dropbox Smart Sync, so the entire agency has access to files without taking up too much hard drive space
  • Reviewing Monday.com dashboards for an all-encompassing view of daily tasks, deadlines and upcoming priorities
  • Reporting improvements for lead ad tracking and email performance
  • Maintaining “Inbox 0,” a reminder to immediately file emails away rather than storing them in your inbox

Now more than ever, technology is how we are interconnected. It’s important to take the time to familiarize your staff with both new and old procedures to ease the transition and avoid confusion. This seminar was crucial to starting the new year off on the right foot.

Be sure to check out All Points PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the office.

NIFA Q4 Recap: Navigating the New Year

NIFA Q4 Recap: Navigating the New Year

On Tuesday, December 15, the Northern Illinois Franchise Association (NIFA) hosted its Q4 virtual event, “Navigating the New Year,” sponsored by All Points Public Relations and Marks & Klein. It was an informative event, and we’d like to thank all those who could attend for their thoughtful participation.

The event kicked off with insights from U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a local congressman with deep connections to the franchising industry. Representing Chicago’s west and northwest suburbs that comprise Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, Rep. Krishnamoorthi discussed the business forecast for the region amid recovery, touching specifically on franchising in 2021.

Managing Partners Tom Wells and Scott Pressly with 10 Point Capital then took the virtual stage to offer their perspectives on the state of the franchising industry and what’s to come. The 10 Point Capital team brings over 75 years of experience in the franchise industry, including experience in investing in and operating both franchisors and franchisees. The team has invested in over 40 franchise transactions, has been franchisees for seven concepts and has worked for four franchisors. Its brand portfolio includes Phenix Salon Suites, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux and Slim Chickens.

If  you would like to view the discussion from the NIFA Q4 event, click here to download the video recording, and click here to download the presentation deck.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Rep. Krishnamoorthi, Tom Wells and Scott Pressly for making this event possible. Your insights, strong connections and extensive knowledge of the franchising community fueled a valuable discussion as we set the stage for franchising in 2021 and beyond.

It’s important that we continue to foster these connections and share best practices in the new year. We encourage anyone who would like to stay connected to check out our NIFA LinkedIn group.

Looking ahead, we are planning several wonderful 2021 events and hope to see everyone in person in the near future. We encourage anyone with topic ideas and sponsorship questions for future events to reach out to Lauren Izaks directly by clicking here.

The NIFA wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season! 

Visit www.northernilfranchise.org for more information about the organization.

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Developing Your PR Plan for the New Year in 4 Steps

Developing Your PR Plan for the New Year in 4 Steps

It’s that time again – planning season is here, and at All Points, we’re leading the charge with our clients to generate fresh ideas and strategies for 2021. Whether you’re planning within an agency setting for multiple clients or fleshing out ideas for a single business, there are four key steps that are essential to any PR plan.

Step #1: Brainstorming

Great ideas start with a good old brainstorming session. Zero in on what the company or client objectives are and think of creative ways to get to that point. In the spirit of collaboration, don’t limit yourselves to one small brainstorming group. Bring other members across departments into your sessions – whether or not they’re tied to the specific work or client, they will have great ideas to share. Brainstorming requires more than only grouping up with those you commonly work with, so take the initiative to open up the group to fresh perspectives. 

Step #2: Paper Edits

Next comes the paper edit phase. This is an important time to take a step back, reflect on your ideas and put them onto paper. Add context and build out your thoughts into complete sentences and paragraphs so you can start to form more concrete plans. Your ideas should be original, unique to the year (not recycled) and catered to the objectives of your company or client. 

Step #3: Strategy Design

This is where you bring your ideas to life through carefully-selected words and images. It’s all about putting together a strategy for a presentation that you believe in. When you firmly believe and are confident in your plan, it becomes much easier to earn the buy-in from key stakeholders. In PR, words alone don’t do your plan justice – you need to have visuals to support the direction that you’re headed in. Take the ideas you’ve formed and create something you can show your stakeholders, so they can visualize what your plan will look like. This is especially important in integrated planning.

Step #4: Presentation

Now that you’ve solidified your ideas within a visual presentation – it’s time to show them off. At All Points, many of our presentations carry a theme. This planning season, we’re thrilled to share with our clients a Blueprint theme as we lay the foundation for the first half of the year. Better known as idea generators in our agency, we shared a custom Blueprint, or fresh set of ideas, with our clients. These collaborative discussions with our clients included a thorough presentation of ideas that we outlined specifically for their franchise brands during the first six months of 2021.  However you’ve decided to design your presentation, the critical component is that it’s well thought-out, practiced, and that you have the energy to knock it out of the park. You’ve put time into the brainstorm, writing it out and coordinating the ideas, so now is not the time to phone it in. Back your ideas with energy and excitement to earn the trust of top company management or your clients. Most importantly, keep it a two-way street that’s open for feedback and collaboration.

The stage is set, and here at All Points, we’re ready to start the new year off stronger than ever before.

Jamie Izaks is the president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.

All Points Partners with Kidz Express for Q4 Positive Impact Program

All Points Partners with Kidz Express for Q4 Positive Impact Program

The All Points PR team is back with another activity booklet for our Q4 Positive Impact program!

This time around, the team is partnering with Kidz Express, an education, mentorship and youth employment organization in Chicago’s South Austin neighborhood, to create a branded activity booklet. The winner of our second annual PRo Community Project, the All Points team is thrilled to be working with Kidz Express this holiday season and help give back to the local community.

Similar to the All Points Positive Impact Activity Booklet created in Q2, the Kidz Express Activity Booklet will be packed with tons of fun games and activities. We know these challenging times have hit especially hard for our nation’s youth. As we put the pages of the booklets together, from brain games and coloring pages to “how to” crafts, we hope to put smiles on the kids’ faces and encourage some much-needed fun.

Stay tuned for more of our work with Kidz Express by following along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Click here to learn more about the All Points PRo Community Project.

What the All Points PR Team is Thankful for This Holiday Season

What the All Points PR Team is Thankful for This Holiday Season

While the holiday season looks quite different this time around, the All Points PR team took some time to reflect on what we’re truly thankful for during such an unexpected and challenging year. Whether personal or professional, our team has plenty of things to give thanks for. Check it out below:

Marin: I’m thankful for YouTube tutorials for teaching me every new hobby I’ve wanted to learn throughout quarantine.

Anastasia: I’m thankful for my All Points work family. After graduating at home this past May, things were looking pretty uncertain and dark for many graduates like me in the class of 2020. Having the privilege of working with this amazing team every day is what gets me up in the morning. Being able to do what I’m most passionate about and having so many other people support and inspire me daily has been the biggest gift in 2020.

The other thing that I’m grateful for is having time to sit down and enjoy dinner together with my family. Before the pandemic, my family would rarely be on a similar schedule so that we could coordinate eating dinner together. Now that things have altered a bit in our schedules and social lives, we are making more time for each other and enjoying quality time almost every evening. It’s been our silver lining throughout this crazy year.

Lauren: I’m thankful for the swerve. The swerve that my journey took in 2020 brought two dogs into our home and also gave my family a lot of time to be together.  

Gautier: I’m thankful for friends, family and colleagues who have been a great resource and support system through a challenging and whirlwind year! 

Alex H: I’m thankful for my friends, family and coworkers who support me through even the most sleep-deprived days!

Katie Lynn: I’m most thankful for a healthy family and good friends to lean on (even virtually) during tough times. Also, I’m very thankful for my new role at All Points and for joining such a kind and welcoming team. During quarantine, and now as we approach winter, I’m super thankful for good books and new shows to watch!

Amanda: I’m thankful for the health of my family and friends, my rediscovered passion for running, my car, amazing coworkers, fantastic music releases and shows that have helped distract from such a crazy year, and the technology that keeps me connected to my loved ones every day.

Kate: I’m thankful for all the time I got to spend with my family (socially distant and mask covered of course) and having them live so close. My health and the health of my loved ones continues to be something I’m incredibly grateful for. This year has been filled with ups and downs, leaving me especially thankful for the little things.

Maddy: I’m thankful for my family and friends. They have been a wonderful support system as we all learn to stay connected virtually during the turbulence of 2020.

Cole: I’m thankful for my loving family and friends. Their support has helped so much throughout my life. I’m also thankful for my coworkers. They help turn any bad day into a good one and are the reason I’m able to be successful at my job.

Jamie: In a year when we could all have faced greater challenges, I’m thankful for the health of my entire family, friends, the All Points team and our clients. I’m also thankful for the resilience of the human spirit – it’s been a roller coaster, but we’ve all found places inside us to persist.  

Emily S: I’m most thankful for my family. Although this past year has been challenging, I could always count on my family to be there for me and be supportive of the decisions I made. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them!

Jonathan: Although 2020 wasn’t exactly the year we imagined, I’m extremely thankful for the year our agency has had. I’m proud of us for all that we have overcome and for coming out stronger on the other side! I’m beyond thankful for my family and friends. Lastly, I’m thankful that sports are back in action.

Rachel: I’m thankful for supportive friends, family and coworkers.

Katie: I’m thankful for my health, the ability to still spend time with friends and family and the technology that keeps us together even when we’re not able to be with each other.

Nicole: I owe everything to my friends for keeping me sane this year. Our FaceTimes with one another are some of my more memorable moments from this year. I’ve also been lucky enough to start a podcast with a few of my friends this year which has helped me grow creatively by honing my graphic design and video editing skills. I’m also thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to grow professionally at All Points which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my coworkers and Lauren and Jamie.

Alex S: I’m thankful for finding a positive support system in my family, my friends and my colleagues. This year has been full of ups and downs, but having people who are consistently cheering me on through the roller coaster is something I’m especially grateful for!

Spencer: I’m thankful that when Netflix releases a new series, they drop all the episodes at once. HBO Max, Hulu and Amazon Prime can all learn something from the OG streaming service.

Emily M: I’m thankful for my family, my home, my car and all of my crafting supplies!

Joey: I’m thankful to be surrounded by optimistic friends, family and coworkers who encourage me to look on the bright side of life. Their positive affirmations and energy always resonate with me, but having a positive circle was especially important this year. 

Bailey: As we’ve all been limited in our ability to socialize this year, I’m extra thankful to live so close to my family and to work with a team of people I enjoy talking to and being around.

Morgan: I’m thankful for my friends and family, my big comfy couch in the living room and Uber Eats.

Jessica: I’m thankful for my family, friends and good health.  

Tess: I’m thankful for my coworkers. When I relocated from Michigan to Illinois, I didn’t know anyone. From my first day at work, I felt welcomed and accepted by my colleagues, which I’m forever grateful for.

Tracey: In a year that has been unlike any other, I’m thankful for my amazing husband, my two pups and having family who lives so close by. I’m also incredibly thankful for the baby boy I have growing inside me who we will get to meet at the end of this year. We will never forget 2020 and I’m thankful that my main reason for that will be our little boy.

Sandy: Though this year has been difficult, I’m thankful for the all of the positives that came from it. I’m thankful it led me to All Points where I have amazing colleagues who have been very welcoming and supportive. I’m excited to continue to grow with All Points! 

Mackenzie: I’m thankful for my family (especially my adorable baby nephew, Cohen!), lifelong friends, my job and for the technology that’s kept our world connected over the past year. 

President’s Point: Beware of Blunders

President’s Point: Beware of Blunders

PR doesn’t always go according to plan. This is especially true if your team doesn’t put enough time into weighing all of the potential outcomes.

With careful preparation and consideration to the execution of a campaign, it becomes much easier to anticipate the outcome. Even if you couldn’t possibly imagine a poor response, you must be prepared for any situation – otherwise, you just might end up with a PR nightmare on your hands.

Fortunately for us, unfortunately for those who suffered through them, there are plenty of well-meaning campaigns that we can learn from. Here are a few with important learnings for us all.

Blunder #1: Build-A-Bear Workshop’s “Pay Your Age” Day

In July 2018, Build-A-Bear Workshop held a special Pay Your Age event to kick off its new celebration of birthdays. The concept is as simple as it sounds – the sale for a plush toy equals the age of your child. The event created a frenzy at American malls when more people showed up than expected, leading to massively long lines and tons of media attention. Eventually, the retailer had to start distributing vouchers, closing stores and turning disappointed customers away. 

The Lesson

Don’t underestimate the traction of an event, especially one with a heavily discounted offer. While the idea of the event was good, it lacked the proper forethought and operational execution, which resulted in unhappy customers. Always have a backup plan, consider as many contingencies as possible and create a way to make it up to stakeholders in the event things go south.

Blunder #2: Neymar and Messi Mastercard Campaign to Feed Starving Children

In 2018, Mastercard announced on Twitter that it would donate 10,000 meals to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for children in Latin America and the Caribbean each time professional soccer players Lionel Messi or Neymar scored a goal. While the company likely expected a universally positive reaction, the pledge quickly backfired on social media. Some branded the event as a “horrible” and “morally wrong” PR stunt that meant the fate of starving children rested in the performance of two soccer stars.

The Lesson

As one Twitter user put it, “Don’t let the fate of starving children rest on multimillionaire footballers.” If your company has the means to donate money or contribute to a good cause, don’t create any fancy hoops or stipulations for publicity – especially when child hunger is involved.

Blunder #3: McDonald’s #MeetTheFarmers Campaign

In 2012, McDonald’s rolled out a 24-hour Twitter campaign to share positive supplier stories. The campaign used the hashtag #MeetThe Farmers and was intended to focus on the brand’s organic potato farmers so that people would think “healthy” when they thought of McDonald’s. As the campaign failed to gain traction, McDonald’s introduced a second hashtag, #McDStories, which caused the campaign to blow up and turn into a channel for customers to share negative stories about the brand. 

The Lesson

Any social media campaign, especially one that encourages the use of hashtags, opens two-way communication between a brand and its customers. Social media can be very unpredictable, so don’t underestimate its reach and have a crisis plan to anticipate negative feedback, especially in the event that your hashtags get hijacked.

Jamie Izaks is the president of All Points Public Relations, a franchise-focused PR agency based in the Chicagoland area, www.allpointspr.com.