Congratulations! You’re moving into new office or retail space! 

You’ve already spent a lot of time and money moving in.  For public relations purposes, you really should spend a little bit more to host an open house or ribbon cutting. 

Here’s the part that might surprise you:  the purpose and success of the event has zero to do with how many people actually show up to celebrate in person with you. Here, we share some common misconceptions and best advice around hosting a ribbon cutting event:

It Doesn’t Matter if No One Shows Up.  The event itself isn’t about getting people to attend, it’s about educating people that your company is celebrating a milestone. It’s an opportunity for free publicity to demonstrate how strong your company is and why they should hire or buy from you.

The Event Can Be Months After You Actually Move In.  There is no need to rush an event, as you can hold a ribbon cutting or open house as late as six months after you have moved in. It’s totally understandable to want to get settled in the new office first, but make sure to schedule and promote the event date early, otherwise you will never get around to hosting the event and the opportunity gets lost.

Invite People Who You Know Won’t Attend.  Invite people who live out of state or who you know won’t attend your event.  They’ll appreciate the fact you thought of them, and it will give you an excuse to remind them that your company is doing well and able to help them if needed.

It Doesn’t Matter if the New Office is Smaller than the Old One.  Almost no one will realize it if your new offices are smaller than your previous one. All they’re going to know is you’re excited about your new space and, instinctively, they’re going to assume your company is growing and expanding. 

Let Your Local Chamber of Commerce Do Most of the Work.  We often work with clients who aren’t members of the local Chamber of Commerce. When they move into new space, we always encourage them to join their local chamber- if only for the ribbon cutting. 

The initial response is often that they don’t want to pay the typical $500 to be a member.  I turn around and ask them if they’d pay $500 for the Chamber to promote your event in their newsletters and social media, invite their members to your offices for the event, coordinate with elected officials to attend and speak at your event, and to bring the ribbon and over-sized scissors with them as they coordinate the short ribbon cutting ceremony.  When they say yes, I tell them, great!  And guess what: you get a free one-year membership along with all that publicity and ceremony coordination!

Invite those Key People Who You Want to Thank for Their Support.  There have always been people in your corner cheering you on.  They may be family members, friends, mentors, peers, it doesn’t matter. They deserve to be thanked, and their investment in time to you was so that they can attend an event like this to celebrate your success.  They don’t care if the event is fancy, all they care about is that you’re going to be there and that you’re proud of what you accomplished. Don’t rob them of that opportunity.

Use Social Media Before the Event: Use your social media channels, both professional and personal, to promote your ribbon cutting event.  Create an event on Facebook and invite your contacts to attend your ribbon cutting.  Write a personal note thanking people for their support to help you reach this milestone.  Yes, it may be “humble-bragging,” but you’ll truly be humbled by the warm comments you receive and all the likes congratulating you on this milestone.

Use Social Media During the Event.  If you have a nice crowd, consider recording some video or sharing it live.  Invite attendees to say nice things about your company on the milestone.  Regardless of how many people are in the room, you can live-tweet the event.  Encourage people to take selfies or other group pictures in your offices and share them online, tagging your company in the images.

Use Social Media After the Event.  Share photos and tell everyone how successful your event was, even if it really wasn’t.  It’s okay if it only ends up being you and your staff at your ribbon cutting, have someone take a photo of the group behind the ribbon.Use the photo in a post-event press release or social media posts.  No one will know how many people attended your event- as far as they know there were hundreds of people.

Keys to a Great Ribbon Cutting Photo

  • Have the key company leaders in the center of the ribbon holding the big scissors for the photo opportunity
  • Have people you appreciate/want to thank hold the ribbon on either end so that it’s straight and not dangling—but pick the people purposely as they’ll appear in the photos, so make sure it’s someone you like!
  • Ask EVERYONE in the room to join you behind the ribbon.  Let the company people be up front but have 40 or 50 people in the photo as it makes you look even bigger and stronger. Someone looking at the photo won’t know that there was no one watching.
  • Pose a few photos with everyone looking up before the cutting begins to make sure you have some decent images.
  • When cutting, remind everyone that they need to keep their eyes up toward the camera and not watch the ribbon falling/actually being cut. You’ll dislike the photo if the key people are all looking down at the falling ribbon and it won’t look as good when shared on social media. 
  • Hire a professional photographer to capture the event. The only way to guarantee that you will get great photos is to have someone who knows what they’re doing take the photo. You’ll be using these photos for days, weeks, and years after the event, so it is worth the investment to have a professional on site to capture the event.

Ribbon cuttings and open houses are great opportunities for business owners and staff to reflect on how far a company has come, and to demonstrate confidence in the company’s future. Celebrate your milestone and allow others to celebrate it with you!