Public Relations 101: How to Make Your Grand Openings Memorable

By: Jessica Bensten

A ribbon cutting is a symbolic ceremony celebrating the opening of a new business, location or venture. Did you get bored just reading that sentence? So did we.

If a grand opening or start to a new business is supposed to be a celebration, it should feel like one! The problem with standard ribbon cuttings, and groundbreakings for that matter, lies with a lack of imagination. Just because you have a giant pair of scissors and a handful of important people on the invite list doesn’t mean you’re using the opportunity wisely. And even though “it’s how we’ve always done it,” that isn’t a good reason to do the same lackluster thing again. This is your chance to reach the public and make them remember your organization.

Creative RCG Ribbon Cuttings

When the new Constitution Drive extension opened in 2010, Ripley Heatwole turned to RCG for a creative idea. Since pedestrians, bicyclists and cars would use the 400-foot bridge, we arranged for students of The Art Institute of Virginia Beach and local bicyclists to be the first to cross it. Instead of making the event solely about a photo op with a ribbon, we turned it into a media opportunity with real footage and excitement.

100_3145Thinking Outside The Ribbon

The kickoff to a venture doesn’t even have to involve ribbons at all. I know. It’s a lot to take in.

A few years back, contractors demolished the old Coliseum Mall and built the Peninsula Town Center in its place. The new shopping center needed an original public relations strategy to alert the community to its opening. RCG suggested putting a large countdown clock on the property to generate anticipation. At the grand opening event, we arranged for a former space program engineer from nearby NASA Langley Research Center, whose late wife was the Mayor of Hampton when Coliseum Mall opened in 1973, to lead the countdown to zero.

X86A5059-EditFor this year’s 15th anniversary of the Mission of Mercy (MOM), which has donated millions of dollars in free dental care, RCG came up with the idea of a celebratory (and tooth friendly!) “milk toast” to kick-off each MOM project throughout Virginia. The City of Suffolk, including Mayor Linda Johnson, was a partner in the inaugural event, along with representatives of the school system, police department, Obici Health Care Foundation, Virginia Health Care Foundation, Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community and local physicians. Each toast, from Tidewater to Northern Virginia, has generated its own local media attention and provided excellent social media and newsletter content.

Event planning comes second nature to us. If you have something to celebrate and want a creative idea to get attention, give us a call at .