I’ve had the pleasure of working with many businesses to plan and execute their grand openings. There are many facets of PR strategy when it comes to opening a business, but my favorite is the official grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony. This is one of the most important and memorable days for a business, so here are seven steps for planning a successful ribbon-cutting event.
Step 1: Ask questions. Who? What? When? Where? How?
- Who has final say on decisions? It is vital to know this answer from the beginning in order to save time and spare yourself from unnecessary debates.
- What is the budget? A ribbon-cutting event can be executed well with little to no costs outside of professional fees, staff and product; however, some clients may want to roll out the red carpet. Knowing what your client has in mind from the beginning is the key to meeting (and managing) their expectations.
- When is the target opening date? Always keep in mind that this date is flexible and likely to change, especially if construction is involved. Also, find out if your client is planning on having a soft opening or wants to hold the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the official first day of business.
- Where are you located? I’m not just asking for the address! You will also want to ask about the part of town or shopping center. Is it in a historic building? A brand new center? A remote area of town? Research to find out if other businesses are opening in the same area so you can consider that when determining the opening date. If the building is run by a management group try working with them in conjunction with opening details.
- How do you envision the event? Ask your client what their goals are for the ribbon-cutting event. Is it geared toward thanking staff and suppliers or an opportunity to impress customers and prospects? Do they want to tie-in a community relations/charity component?
Step 2: Contact the local Chamber of Commerce. If your client is not a member, recommend that they become one. Besides the Chamber promoting and participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, members receive benefits throughout the year. Once a target date is set, notify the Chamber regarding availability on that date. (Set a couple of back-up dates in case the opening is delayed due to construction, etc.)
Step 3: Make a comprehensive timeline for planning. This will include everything from the invitations and decorations to announcing the opening date and internal planning meetings.
Step 4: Delegate responsibilities. Once the planning timeline is complete, review with the client and designate who is responsible for which tasks. Also, set up regular check-ins with your client to ensure everything is on track.
Step 5: Create a day-of-event schedule and checklist. This is crucial to making sure everyone is on the same page. (And, trust me, it will be a very hectic day!) I suggest using a spreadsheet to mark the time, person responsible and details for each task. Be very specificand include tasks for before, after and during the event like arrival and set up times, facility tours, speeches and time of the ribbon-cutting. The checklist should include items like vendors, decorations, ribbon-cutting needs (ribbon and scissors are a must!), camera, etc.
Step 6: Execute then evaluate. After the event, regroup with your internal team and client for feedback. Whether positive or negative, this is valuable information to have for future grand opening events.
Planning a grand opening ribbon-cutting event takes time, organization and cooperation. The most valuable advice I can share is to be in constant communication with everyone working on the event. It’s key to remember that your client is not just planning for this event, but also dealing with operations duties such as construction, staffing and supplies. Being in touch with them often will not only keep tasks on track, but also will show that you have this handled.
Have any questions? Just comment below!