PR strategy helps outlet mall change image, attact shoppers

Franklin Mills is not only an outlet mall in Philadelphia, but Pennsylvania’s most-visited tourist destination – really. I saw it on TV and read it in dozens of newspapers after writing the story. Franklin Mills management had been faced with declining sales, a high crime perception that scared away affluent shoppers, raging competition from the upscale King of Prussia mall and hostility from the local area. Potential shoppers had no idea the mall had ditched the $.99 stores and added Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, Old Navy, Gap, Kenneth Cole, Greg Norman and other brand name retailers.

The agency’s multi-pronged attack strategy to attract new shoppers sought to

  1. promote community involvement within the local area
  2. increase national and international tourism
  3. attract new tenants, support existing tenants

Treating PR like journalism with a purpose, the agency uncovered truly newsworthy stories and secured significant coverage in local TV, radio and print media. Community coverage focused on events such as Police Appreciation Day, Pet Photos with Santa and the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders autograph session, and spotlighted environmental good deeds such as establishing healthy wetlands.

To reach critical tourist operators, we consistently secured coverage on the mall as an essential stop on every Northeast itinerary in key trade and business publications. The mall attracted thousands of busloads every year and these tourists and day trippers typically spent twice as much per trip as local shoppers.

To create the bustling presence that attracts new tenants, supports existing tenants and instills confidence in Mills Corp. investors,  we secured critical TV placements with Mills Corp. CEO Laurence C. Siegel on CNN Business Day and CNBC Power Lunch to launch the holiday season. We also secured weekly interviews with Bloomberg News for six consecutive weeks during the holiday rush as well consistent PR coverage in the retail trade media.

Much of the success of this program is rooted in our PR philosophy. Rather than push our own agenda on the media, we study the agenda of the news media, anticipate what will be news and then find opportunities to fit into their stories. One fine example of this innovative approach earned coverage in the USA Today and an award for media relations. If there truly is no news to report, we’re skilled at creating events and programs that are of interest to the media and to their audiences.