Public Relations for a Franchise Group-Sylvan Learning Center
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Sylvan Learning Center opened its doors in 1979. Since then, the corporation has expanded with over 900 centers throughout the world. All Sylvan Centers follow a similar communication plan, to ensure that every Sylvan franchise is operated with the same mission statement, teaching methods, and promotions.
Sylvan Centers are placed into franchise groups if they are in close proximity. This helps the centers maintain a consistent PR plan.
“ We are part of a franchise group with two centers,” Says Michelle Tack, Center Director at the Sylvan Center in Elgin, Ill. “There are two PR directors at each center, and we work together with the Sylvan directors in Algonquin, Illinois when creating and implementing a PR plan.”
Every month the PR directors at the two Sylvan centers come together to discuss future campaigns and to go over information they have received from corporate.
“The benefit of being in a corporate structure is there is a team that researches different communication tactics and then we get the benefit of that without having to do it all ourselves,” says Callie Masten Director of Education at the Sylvan Center in Elgin, Ill.
The Sylvan Franchise group in Elgin has started to put more emphasis on its social media presence in order to stay up-to-date with the younger generation of parents.
“We are currently putting most of our efforts on our Facebook page, but we also have a Twitter and YouTube account and a local website,” says Tack. “Given the nature of our services, we are marketing toward parents. We try to use our Facebook as a way to appeal to younger parents and explain the benefits of our services for their children.”
Though social media platforms such as Facebook have been successful for the Sylvan franchise group, the group relies on other platforms that are sometimes not seen as social media. One of which is e-mail.
“E-mail is one of the most important forms of social media used at Sylvan,” said Masten. “I think that has increased our business, because when they go visit the website, even the national one, we are immediately contacted through e-mail. It allows us to get constant feedback from our customers.”
The franchise group has also incorporated Groupon and LivingSocial as another facet of its social media presence.
“Groupon was a very big hit,” says Tack. “We were one of the top 20 Groupons of the year.”
The Sylvan franchise group of Elgin, like many businesses, is constantly trying to find ways to measure the return of investments of its social media presence. The group measures non-financial ROI on its social media platforms.
“When parents come to sign up we ask them through a survey how they heard about us,” says Masten. “This way we can keep track of how many people come from Facebook, e-mail or our website. It helps us determine if our social media efforts are working.”
Though social media platforms have increased business for Sylvan, social media is not the only PR tool used.
“I think to be successful you have to utilize every tool you have, and the biggest one is getting in front of people,” says Tack. “We do local school fundraisers and donate for anything local that has to do with K through college.”
“We also do a lot of mailing too,” added Masten. “People still want to be sent things by mail.”
The Sylvan franchise group of Elgin sends customers monthly newsletters, places ads in local magazines and sends out corporate press releases to local newspapers.
As for Sylvan using social media as a tool for PR in the future, Tack believes social media will remain relevant but the platforms will change.
“I’m sure it will keep changing as to what the hot thing is,” says Tack. “From year to year things change, but we are a technology driven society and can no longer ignore the impact social media has on our lives.”