The groundbreaking ceremony is one of your brick-and-mortar business’s first official public relations events and is an excellent opportunity to introduce you and your new brand to the community.
Due to the potential of this event, it is important that it be conducted professionally. Here is a checklist that will help you plan and organize your groundbreaking ceremony:
1. Select your date and time. Allow for six weeks to plan your event.
Before doing so, determine what else might be occurring in the area that could affect attendance. Avoid major holidays and community events. Review the local Chamber of Commerce business calendar to verify there are no conflicts. Check in with key invitees to determine the best time and date for them. Your goal is to have the greatest possible attendance.
2. Develop guest list and send out invitations 3-4 weeks prior to event.
The general public is not usually invited at this point as it is more reserved for company executives, the A/E and construction team, prominent business people, government officials, and the media.
• Local civic and community leaders
• Chamber of Commerce representatives
• Architects, realtors and general contractors
• Key account contacts
• Top corporate executives
• Local press and media representatives to include TV, Radio, and newspaper
3. Invite people to speak at the ceremony.
Invitees should be familiar with the project and the benefits it will bring to the organization and/or community. Always provide a time limit to their speech (to keep the ceremony on track) and assign who will recognize key players to moving the project forward.
Contact all speakers and brief them on your brand. Your executive’s comments should include powerful and persuasive language about the brand’s exclusive benefits and his or her vision for the future. It will also thank the audience for being a part of the beginning of the hotel.
4. Invite host/hostess to provide an inviting welcome and help facilitate the flow of the guests.
5. Issue a media advisory, a one-page sheet that alerts reporters to an upcoming news event (include contact info, what, when, where, and who). Follow-up with a phone call a few days prior to the ceremony.
– Send Invitations. You may e-mail, fax, and phone any attendees that you want to be present. Sometimes a hand delivered invitation is a powerful way to get to know the invitee even better.
– Prepare your pre-event media alert announcement and post-even groundbreaking press release.
6. Plan the details (as they apply to your event) such as tent, chairs, podium, sound, food/beverages (optional), trash bins, bathrooms, wayfinding signage, and photography. Check with your contractor on shovels, hard hats, and safety glasses as they are usually happy to provide. They can also bring a pile of dirt for an easier groundbreaking. Have a few buckets of dirt on standby that can be used under the tent in case of rain.
Order collateral materials in advance of the groundbreaking event, including fact sheets and backgrounders. You can choose to provide these in a traditional hard copy press kit format or in more innovative ways using USB drives in unique and branded packages. You may also want to order logo-embossed specialty items that attendees will keep on their desk, such as miniature shovel paperweights. Other items to consider ordering in advance include imprinted balloons and hard hats. Purchase a guest book and name tags for attendees.
– Purchase shovels. You will need a separate shovel for each person participating in the actual groundbreaking dig. Typically Owners, Elected Officials, Chamber Representatives, and Architects or Contractors will all need a shovel. You may want to use shovels that are decorative or branded, not industrial.
– Identify a caterer (menu does not need to be set until two weeks prior).
– Identify a photographer. Consider hiring a professional. The photographs will be higher quality and can be sent in a timely manner to the media. You will want to send an 8 X 10 photo along with a thank you note to all who participated in the groundbreaking. You may want to hang the photo in a prominent location at the property after it opens.
– Order printed programs to provide an overview as to the event’s order of speakers and any other pertinent information.
– Gather the names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone and fax numbers of all media you plan to invite, including travel writers and feature editors of the local papers. Also include News Directors and Assignment Editors of the local Radio and Television stations.
2 DAYS PRIOR
1. Confirm that all necessary items have been ordered (i.e. tent, chairs, food, etc)
2. Prepare media kits. Each should contain key corporate bios, photos, renderings, fact sheets, backgrounders, and press release.
3. Call the press to determine their attendance. In the event they can not attend, send them a media kit so that they have the