About to celebrate a milestone anniversary? Holding a ribbon cutting to unveil your new location? Scheduling a groundbreaking ceremony for a soon-to-be constructed or remodeled building? Congratulations!
Before you invite the community to toast the moment with you, I encourage you to pause and consider the public relations possibilities. An event is an excellent way to capture headlines and give the public a chance to learn about your business or facility. A strategic approach makes all the difference in terms of the outcome.
Following are a few tips to ensure a day that is more extraordinary than ordinary.
Plan ahead. Sure, you could wing it and put something together on the fly, but for the best results, ceremonial events should be scheduled three months or more in advance. Contact your local chamber of commerce or business council. Create a save-the-date letter for city and county executives and other dignitaries in your community so they can mark their calendars.
Also, take a quick look at other events nearby to ensure you’re picking a date with little or no scheduling conflicts. Then, hone in on your guest list and issue invitations, either in hard copy or through social media or email, approximately four to six weeks prior.
Make it visual. Start thinking about what others will see who attend. If you’re planning to invite members of the media, consider what a photographer or video crew might want to see.
Will there be a check presentation to a local nonprofit? A reveal of a model building? Hard hats and golden shovels for a photo opportunity? A cardboard cut-out for social media sharing? The more unusual or interactive, the better the odds of an event that others will talk about or share with others.
Working with your creative team well in advance will help with brainstorming what angle, view or image might work best. It also may be wise to book your own photographer, so that whatever shot is set up can be captured and shared after the event with newspapers, magazines and online media that may not have been able to attend but might still be interested in spreading the word about what happened that day.
Have a run-of-show. Choose two to four people to deliver remarks during the event and elect a point person or two, which may include your public relations representative, to ensure the day moves along as planned. Smart choices for speakers include the president or CEO of the company, elected officials or the person accepting the check on behalf of the charitable partner.
Discuss in advance how long each person’s talk should be and what kind of comments you’d appreciate they make. Have a general outline of what will occur, in what order and where. Keep in mind, short and sweet is often best. People are busy and may need to get back to their desks or the newsroom, so condensing the key parts of the event is appreciated.
Don’t overlook the details. Tour the facility the event is being held at a few weeks prior. Consider if you’ll need chairs, a tent, a podium, music or audiovisual equipment and ensure there’s access to electricity and restrooms.
Remember, too, the refreshments. It’s not uncommon for businesses to leave this matter to the last minute, only to realize their caterer of choice can’t accommodate their crudité and cheese and cracker platter with short notice.
With a little bit of creativity, a lot of planning and a what’s-in-it-for-them approach, your big moment can become even bigger — and that’s worth celebrating.
Filomena Fanelli is the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications Ltd., a public relations firm and certified women’s business enterprise in Poughkeepsie. She can be reached at 845-462-4979 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.