At the crossroads of the American dream and mass media in a global pandemic as seen through the lens of small business in franchising.


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Franchising filled a critical role in standing up for small businesses in the COVID-19 pandemic and providing a voice in the media to protect the American Dream. However, franchise leaders say much work still needs to be done to educate the media on the franchise business model as an important part of America’s small business sector. This qualitative study included interviews with franchise leaders across the country. Using agenda-setting theory, they were asked about media coverage they witnessed, how they participated in that conversation with media outlets if applicable, and how the industry was impacted. Looking at issues management, they also showed how they navigated their organizations through the pandemic. Findings lead to public relations and marketing communications recommendations for helping the media better understand franchises as both small businesses owned and operated by franchisees, and household names across the country and around the world.