PR Professionals: How Would You Handle This PR Nightmare?


I don’t see anything good coming out of a recent franchise news story that I read. It’s going to take a PR miracle to turn around what really is a PR nightmare.

The Headline:

Pizza Franchise Pushes Independent Bookstore Owner Out


A Real PR Nightmare

A Ft. Collins Colorado franchisee of Papa Murphy’s, a take and bake pizza franchise, is forcing  The Eclectic Reader, a Ft. Collins bookstore, out of it’s leased space. The reason: The franchisee is willing to pay more for the retail space than the proprietor of The Eclectic Reader, Cynthia Manuel.

Manuel is an advocate for real books-not the ones you can read on a Kindle.


What I want to do, what I am passionate about, is connecting people with the books they need or want and creating a community-oriented, environmentally friendly, totally local business. I want to engage people in great conversation. I want to meet people every day and not sit in front of a computer selling books online or at a flea market.”

Read more of her interview with The Coloradoan.

This is not a good story for Papa Murphy’s or the local franchisee that wants to is taking over the space.

And, they’re not the only franchisor that’s experienced bad pr.


How To Turn Around A PR Nightmare

The first thing I would do, would be to state that the pizza franchise owner is local, too. He is trying to open a small business and build something of value for himself and his family. Franchises are locally owned and operated small businesses. They are not big box stores like Wal-Mart or Best Buy.  It’s  not a David vs. Goliath story. It’s a story about prices. It’s a story about commercial real estate, and what this local market will bear, price-wise.

That’s how I would talk about the story.

But, I’m not a professionally-trained PR professional.

Are you?


PR Pros: What Would You Do?

I want to know what you would do in this situation.

What would your recommendations be to the franchise executives at Papa Murphy’s corporate?

How would you turn this PR nightmare around?

Please share your ideas in the comment section below. If you’re an experienced PR professional, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re a college student studying PR, this is your chance to get your name out. What would you do if you were in charge of the Papa Murphy’s public relations account?

If your an out of work PR professional, take a shot at this. Maybe you’ll get a job offer.

How would you handle this PR nightmare?



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  • Josh

    Ya cant make everyone happy but its trying that counts. If the franchise were to make a fair well to the bookstore store / hello to the pizza store celebration I think that would be nice. Maybe even continue to maintain a relationship with the book store so that they can have have some sort of promotions reminiscent of the book store. Lets not forget that the book store business is not exactly what it used to be and as you pointed out Joel, this is a real estate thing, not a big bad business take over thing. If the people of that town want to be angry at anyone they should be upset with the folks that invented things like Kindle. I think the move here is to console the book store community in a realistic way and just be as polite and professional about the whole thing as possible.

    • The Franchise King

      Thanks a lot, Josh.

      Some good ideas.

      Still-even though I’m pro-franchise business, a piece of me feels bad for this independent bookstore owner.


  • The Franchise King

    Rhonda left me this message via Facebook, and she gave me permission to use this here.

    The Franchise King®

    “It IS a real estate issue. But the zee should do something wild like let her set up a table outside for the decent weather months and sell some books there. It’s almost impossible for a book store to survive these days so unless she can find a cheap good space this would be an awesome example of community working together. Papa Johns corporate can also offer to pay her 1st 3 months rent on a new cheaper location. Chances are she was losing her lease or facing a big rent increase anyway!A great close to a national show like Brian Williams’ Rock Center.”

    Rhonda Sanderson

    Sanderson& Associates PR

  • @bizbuzzin

    This pulls at the heart strings, for sure. And you are right to point out that the franchisee, like the bookstore owner is locally owned and operated. But let’s look at your big box retailer comment too. Yes, this is a real estate issue. But it also about a business model issue. And the world of book sales has changed by sheer consumer demand and the mode by which we do business to buy and read books. Borders, anyone? Yes, this big box retailer has realized the impact of online sales with a sad ending as well. That is telling on what the competitive market will support — even by those who once had deep pockets. And, in contrast, a robust franchise like Papa Murphy’s is likewise growing its footprint by what its customers desire in growing numbers – freshly-made pizza they can take and bake at home. (No Kindle service offers that.) This is not the big guy vs. the little guy. It is a sustainable business model versus a dying one. Regardless of the players, this is one reason we promote the franchisee’s human interest story in each and every market for what he and she is bringing to a space that consumers ultimately desire with the best intentions to serve customers, create jobs and prop up small business in America. It’s an educational hurdle for many, but a constant goal to explain what franchising is really about at the core. And that is what good PR people communicate, from the national headlines on down to the grassroots level. Tell the franchisee’s story and be transparent. There are emotional ties to this start-up too. PS- If I were a new business owner looking to get involved in my community, I wouldn’t go wrong by supporting a good reading program with area schools to encourage a love for books!

    • The Franchise King

      Thanks for weighing in, Monica.
      I liked what you wrote about what the market wants: “A robust franchise like Papa Murphy’s is likewise growing its footprint by what its customers desire in growing numbers – freshly-made pizza they can take and bake at home.” I cracked up when you added that, “No Kindle service offers that.”

      Great idea for the franchisee to support some type of program centered out a love of books in the schools, too.