Alpine Electronics is known for its aftermarket products; however, its original equipment manufacturers (OEM) products, which account for nearly 75 percent of the company’s profits, are not widely recognized. Alpine’s OEM business unit has been a major sponsor at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit since 2001. Despite the significant financial investment involved with sponsorship, Alpine had never engaged in proactive media relations to leverage its presence at the show.
In late 2007 with the 2008 NAIAS fast-approaching, Franco was retained to increase Alpine’s awareness among the media and OEM decision makers and leverage their sponsorship of the North American International Auto Show.
- Conducted accelerated industry and competitive research to provide a foundation for strategic auto show plan
- Developed key messages focused on Alpine’s OEM business and its product offerings, with emphasis on products in vehicles launching at the show
- Worked with OEM PR teams to leverage OEM announcements
- Captured the attention of media and OEM influencers prior to the show with unique invitations and media materials
- Developed and launched auto show specific online newsroom
- Conducted aggressive media relations on site
- Introduced Alpine executives to key industry decision makers
- Media coverage included 35 interviews and tours of the Alpine audio room
- Alpine was the only supplier named during the Dodge Ram press conference and in its press kit
- After the auto show, Franco initiated plans for Alpine premium sound to be featured in the Dodge Ram press fleet to enhance awareness before product launch
- Alpine executives met on site with OEM decision makers
Arbor Hospice, which is committed to providing quality, end-of-life care for patients and their families, retained Franco to develop a public relations campaign for its 25th anniversary to raise awareness of the organization, help increase donations and educate potential clients about the benefits of hospice.
Franco worked with Arbor Hospice staff and stakeholders to create the theme “Celebrating Life for 25 Years.” This theme reinforced the role Arbor Hospice has played in the community and helped to dispel the stereotype of hospice as a place to die rather than a celebration of life lived. The celebration was a year-long, community gardening project that planted 25 plants in parks in each of its service communities.
To extend the theme further, Franco designed a bookmark invitation that was imbedded with wildflower seeds which guests could plant in their own gardens.
The Arbor Hospice community gardening project was a resounding success. Each of the five gardening events garnered significant media coverage in various print media outlets, including the Ann Arbor News, The Northville Record, The Detroit News and The Ann Arbor Business Review, as well as on radio and TV.
The gardening project also gave friends and family members a living memorial where they can go to reflect on the lives of their loved one.
Delta Dental of Tennessee
Delta Dental of Tennessee retained Franco to promote the importance of good oral health and oral cancer awareness in Tennessee.
Franco developed the "Share A Smile" photo contest emphasizing the importance of good oral health for college students. Delta Dental partnered with Belmont University’s Greek organizations and a Facebook page was created to promote the contest and drive students to the Delta Dental website for voting. The 2-month contest was intended to be a fun way to motivate college students to:
- Take care of their teeth
- Make the connection between oral health and overall health
- Raise awareness of oral cancer and new studies linking the cancer to the Human Papilloma Virus [HPV] and a new demographic that includes young adults
- Introduce college students to an affordable Delta Dental insurance option
- 23,471 votes increased traffic for the Delta Dental of Tennessee website by approximately 25 percent
- 971 page views and 448 unique visitors to the Facebook page over the course of two months
- 6 Belmont University sororities/fraternities entered 154 photos into the contest
- Media coverage in Belmont University publications and health industry newsletters
John Hancock All-Star FanFest
Major League Baseball hired Franco Public Relations Group to publicize the 76th All-Star Game’s John Hancock All-Star FanFest in Detroit.
- A community relations outreach to schools, community centers and churches in Detroit
- A radio tour with Tiger Hall-of-Famer Al Kaline
- Media previews of the World Series Trophy
- Technical walk throughs and hard hat tours for the media and their children to preview the attractions at the 400,000-square-foot fan convention
- Opening Day ceremonies
- Media credentialing
- 90,000 guests attended the FanFest (exceeding goal of 80,000)
- Over 400 media placements reached an estimated audience of 34.3 million
Detroit Public Library
The Detroit Public Library needed voters to approve a one mill increase, renewal of its current three mills, and millage extension from five to 10 years.
Without approval of all three components, the library’s survival was at risk given the serious reduction in operating funds due to declining property taxes and reduced state funding.
- Developed a grass roots community outreach program to inform and persuade residents to vote for the millage
- Coordinated editorial board meetings with key Detroit publications including ethnic/community papers to secure editorial endorsements of the millage
- Arranged for campaign and library spokespeople to appear on local radio and television programs and at community block clubs, neighborhood associations, etc.
- Provided media with unique human-interest stories about the library, its history and its value to the community
- Created brochures, flyers, posters and bookmarks explaining the millage issue and detailing the successes achieved from past millage approvals
- Created a print and broadcast advertising campaign and facilitated the media buys
- The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, The Michigan Chronicle and Michigan Front Page endorsed the millage – something they had not done in the past
- Detroit voters overwhelmingly approved the millage and its extension
Feld Entertainment, Inc. (Feld) is a world leader in live entertainment with productions appearing in more than 55 countries. Annually, Feld brings Disney On Ice and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey shows to the metro Detroit area.
Feld retained Franco to boost ticket sales by increasing media coverage and raising awareness of Feld’s shows.
Franco worked with Feld’s local promoter and Midwest PR manager to identify unique story angles that highlighted the performers and distinctive aspects of the shows.
With Detroit leading the nation in unemployment, it was essential that Feld promote its cost saving family programs. Franco’s media relations efforts included announcing kids discount tickets, family four-pack deals and a free Ringling ticket for every baby born in the U.S.
Franco also provided localized media angles by arranging interviews with performers from the area.
In the first year, Franco garnered more than 100 print, broadcast and web placements in the metro Detroit market. Compared to 2007 figures, attendance for the 2008 Disney On Ice show was up 30 percent; the 2008 Ringling Bros. show was up 15 percent, and the 2009 Disney On Ice was up 41 percent.
Franco also diversified Feld’s media coverage by reaching out to blog and web forums for local moms which also attributed to increased ticket sales.
The Schaeffler Group
The Schaeffler Group, the world’s largest producer of roller bearings, retained Franco to manage the grand opening of its North American Automotive Center, which brought its three companies (INA, LuK and FAG) under one roof. The goals of the events were to promote the new facility, generate media interest and reinforce with employees the benefits of the three companies working together.
Franco worked with the Schaeffler Group to produce three events over two days. The three events – grand opening, trade fair and employee party – incorporated the theme, “Together We Move the World.”
The ribbon cutting was led by owners Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler and her son Georg, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan John Cherry and Keith Crain, chairman of Crain Communications, which publishes Automotive News.
The trade fair showcased products and engineering capabilities. Teleconferencing connections linked the Canadian testing facility to demonstrate the interaction and efficiency of the North American effort.
The employee party was family-focused, with the Schaeffler family in attendance with other key executives from Germany and the U.S.
- The hours for the self-guided tour were extended due to interest by customers
- Several new client meetings were scheduled following the open house
- Executives appreciated the efficiency of hosting events for clients, employee and media over two days
- Media coverage was very positive
ITC Holdings Corp.
ITCTransmission (ITC) encountered community opposition to the installation of a 120 kV power line in Livingston and Genoa counties.
Some residents were concerned over the potential impact on their property values and a perceived health risk about high-voltage lines emitting electromagnetic interference (EMI). They wrote letters to their local newspapers, lobbied township board members and discussed the issue in their neighborhoods. While much of their information was inaccurate, some township boards responded by passing resolutions requiring that power lines be buried underground.
To help communities understand the need for safe, dependable electric transmission and to allay their fears, Franco and ITC undertook the following:
- Developed FAQs and letters to residents that explained the benefits of above-ground transmission lines and addressed concerns over EMI
- Created simple key messages and talking points
- Drafted op-ed columns and letters to the editor
- Used advertising and community outreach to promote attendance at township meetings to ensure issues could be addressed directly with the community
- Arranged editorial board meetings with relevant media
- Tracked and analyzed media to measure for positive and negative coverage of the issue
- The campaign garnered favorable media coverage including an editorial in The Detroit News in support of ITC
- Many communities now support the installation of above-ground transmission lines
- ITC uses this program as a benchmark for other community and media relations efforts across the country
The Village of Milford, Michigan
The Milford Downtown Development Authority retained Franco to create awareness about Milford events, shopping and dining opportunities, including increasing year-round visits and reinforcing the ease of traveling to and parking in Milford, Mich.
Franco’s media relations campaign focused on building the “Meet Me in Milford” brand. It included:
- Publicizing Milford’s shops, restaurants, and eco-tourism
- Expanding its outreach to include social media
- Developing and maintaining a Twitter page and Facebook fan page designed to interact with those interested in learning more about Milford and its amenities
- Broad media coverage of Milford’s shops, restaurants and events, including TV, print and blogs
- Strong following on Twitter and Facebook
- Milford businesses have seen an increase in traffic and sales
Michigan State University
Michigan State University engaged Franco to assist in refining and implementing a communications plan to support its multi-departmental visibility initiative in southeast Michigan.
- Critically reviewed and analyzed MSU’s outreach plan
- Recommended strategies based on depth of knowledge of southeast Michigan
- Recommended event sponsorships
- Developed storylines for media
- Made introductions with key business and civic leaders/institutions
- Identified critical community and business functions for MSU leaders to attend
- Created timelines and metrics to track MSU’s progress on its initiative
- Staged and supported grand opening event and communications outreach for MSU’s new Detroit Center
- MSU successfully launched its southeast Michigan visibility plan and continues to use Franco’s measurement tools to gauge results
- MSU has raised its profile by implementing a number of Franco’s recommendations, including sponsorship opportunities such as the 2009 Crain’s Detroit Business House Party
- Detroit Center’s grand opening served as a springboard for media coverage of MSU’s commitment to southeast Michigan
Continue to enhance “Impact Your Neighborhood,” a joint program between Panera Bread and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which encourages volunteerism.
The program posts volunteer opportunities on United Way’s website; Panera hosts a breakfast/informational session and caters lunch. Volunteers are encouraged to send photos and blog about their experience on the website.
Franco has supported Panera in this effort since 2007.
- Monitored and targeted local media to publicize volunteer opportunities
- Worked with bloggers (particularly mom/family bloggers) to share details about the program with their readers - many of whom are parents, a critical demographic for Panera
- The program has grown from three service projects and 50 volunteers in 2007 to 10 projects and 290 volunteers in 2009
- Local blogs continue to cover the program
- Significant media coverage placed with all mediums
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. retained Franco for the Michigan market to enhance its community involvement, introduce its new store director, and counter the perception that Tiffany was downsizing as it remodeled and combined two floors into one.
A multi-faceted effort was implemented to:
- Promote Tiffany collections and new product introductions through media placements, particularly in fashion layouts
- Identify and support partnerships with community organizations to drive traffic to the brand and increase sales
- Create a grand reopening event
- Tiffany media coverage increased significantly both for its community events and its product offerings
- A new process was designed to ensure Tiffany products were represented in fashion layouts and gift-giving features
- The grand reopening of Tiffany drew the ideal crowd and major media coverage by partnering with the Detroit Institute of Arts in a “Celebration of Brilliance.” A special diamond collection was brought in for the event and $40,000 was raised for the DIA
- An in-store event for The HOPE Fund unveiled Tiffany’s new Frank Gehry collection and helped achieve Michigan’s Gehry sales goal six weeks ahead of schedule
The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division
The demand for services provided by The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division has increased more than 70 percent over the last few years. It was imperative that the Red Kettle Campaign reach its goal to support this growing need.
- Increased awareness about the comprehensive nature of TSA’s services through media relations, advertising, social media and media partnerships
- Repeated the success of the previous year’s “What’s in Your Kettle?” campaign, which encouraged people to give by connecting what they are thankful for during the holiday season
- Developed weekly news releases on topics such as a partnership with Detroit’s Hard Rock Café, Wal-Mart’s free shopping sprees for TSA-assisted families, Thanksgiving feast preparation at Harbor Light, the Detroit Red Wings players ringing bells and feeding the homeless
- The Salvation Army raised $8 million, surpassing its goal of $7.2 million
- More than 311 media placements reached an estimated audience of 39 million
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, Mich. 48243
P: (313) 567-2300
F: (313) 567-4486
"Franco has developed a solid social media campaign that has helped increase awareness and business to our downtown shops and restaurants. The service and follow through with our businesses has been excellent."