Grand Openings: How to Achieve Those Award-Winning Results

After just two years in the agency world, grand openings quickly became one of my personal favorite campaigns to work on. This past spring, I had the opportunity to work with Shake Shack, New York City’s beloved burger chain, to help open its first-ever Ohio location on Cleveland’s East Side’s at the new Pinecrest development.

The campaign incorporated several different components, from event planning to publicity and media relations to advertising to direct mail. And because there were several moving pieces throughout, we used a variety of tactics that remained the same for each component, as they should for each grand opening:

  • Know Your Audience – Whether it’s editors and radio hosts covering your emergence into the community, governmental figures attending your housewarming party or social influencers promoting your grand opening, knowing how to connect with the right audience is one of the most important pieces of your grand opening. How you would contact a social media star can be much different than how you share news with the media, or how you approach local governmental figures. Be sure you know and understand the best way to reach out to your audience, and how to maintain the communication.
  • Stay On Top – When a new business is opening up in town, consumers get excited, which means the media gets excited. As the PR contact, this means they’re reaching out to you, like, constantly. On top of all the other emails flooding your inbox throughout the day, this can get overwhelming. But one of the most vital ways to successfully execute a grand opening campaign is to be responsive. Editorial deadlines can be as short as an hour after you hear of them, so be as quick as you can to respond and get media the information they need.
  • Build Relationships – Some people say “it’s all about who you know.” After managing grand openings, I can confirm that the ability to create and maintain relationships is absolutely necessary. Working on a variety of tactics, you will likely engage with several different media, influencers, vendors and client contacts. This can be a lot to juggle, but having strong relationships with these contacts can and will benefit you in the long run. This is especially true if you’re working on a local grand opening, working with local media and influencers. You never know when you’ll be contacting them again, so maintaining these relationships is a key factor in your present and future career.
  • Measure Your Results– How else will you know what a rockstar job you did on your grand opening?! After all you’ve managed, the end of a grand opening can certainly feel like one big sigh of relief, but you have bragging rights now! And, of course, as it is with any account or campaign, your client will want to see the results. Make sure you have your numbers aligned – from publicity and advertising impressions to social media likes. Creating reports is a great way to organize your results in one cohesive place, so you can present it to the client and use it for your personal reference.

Implementing these simple steps across each component of the campaign, Sweeney achieved the following awards at this year’s 2018 PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards:

  • Community Relations, Bronze Award
  • Media Relations, Local/Regional, Bronze Award
  • Best Use of Influencer Promotion, Bronze Award