There is no better way to unite your company with the community than with a ribbon cutting ceremony! A ribbon cutting ceremony can be overwhelming until you look at the steps. Here is a basic guide to planning your next success ribbon cutting ceremony! Remember – each company and project is unique – so there is no one size fits all way to plan your ceremony.
1. Choose the Date & Set the Guest List
Generally, you should allow 6-8 weeks to properly plan a ribbon cutting ceremony! This will allow you to communicate with your guests in advance, and be as prepared as possible. Experience shows that events planned for Monday through Friday garner the best attendance and enable officials, dignitaries and city officials to attend. In general, events between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. often receive the most media coverage.
Check for schedule conflicts with other events – i.e. your guests of honor’s schedule should be consulted. You may also encourage maximum attendance by holding your event in conjunction with another scheduled community event. If your location is under construction, be sure to maintain constant communication with your team to ensure that you do not have to reschedule.
2. Send Out Invitations & Invite Your Speakers
√ If planning an outdoor event, choose an alternative date or location in case of inclement weather.
√ Plan the type of invitation: formal letter, informal letter, postcard, e-mail or flier. Include your logo and name, the type of event, date and time, address and a method for the recipients to RSVP. You may also include your business card and a map, if appropriate.
√ Consider additional methods of getting the word out, such as signs, marquees, Web sites, newsletters or posters. Mail your invitations two to four weeks before the event, and establish a cut-off date for RSVPs, usually about one week before the event.
√ Designate a contact person and method of contact to handle incoming questions and track RSVPs as they are returned. You may want to phone or send e-mail reminders a few days before the event.
√ Your guest list can include many varied individuals, from your family and friends to staff; clients; business associates such as bankers, advisors and other professionals; neighboring businesses; volunteer associations; community leaders; elected officials; and the media.
√ Choose an emcee to welcome your guests and introduce any other speakers. He or she may also offer a few remarks, thank appropriate persons and recognize VIPs in attendance who will not be speaking.
√ If you plan to include guest speakers, contact them early so they have enough time to prepare remarks and tell them how long they will have to speak. This is typically very brief (two to three minutes). Call to confirm their attendance approximately one week prior to the event.
√ If you serve food, determine the number of tables, linens and trash cans needed and their placement.
√ Plan the setup of any A/V equipment you will be using and be sure that if you are not hiring a photographer or videographer, you have someone ready with a camera to capture your big moment.
3. Lights, Camera, Press!
√ The local newspapers and radio stations should be contacted about one month in advance.
√ After the event, send a photo to local newspapers and also consider posting it on your Web site and in any relevant newsletters.
4. Activities, Awards and Activate the Plan
√ The actual ceremony is usually brief (about 20 to 30 minutes) and should be planned ahead of time with regard to speaker order, the actual ribbon cutting or groundbreaking and any other activities you plan to include.
√ Ribbon cutting – Decide who will cut the ribbon and notify them in advance. Have the cutter (and any other attendees you desire) stand. They should face the audience with the ribbon between them and the audience.
√ Groundbreaking – Stage those involved and have a photographer or volunteer ready with a camera. You may want to have the audience do a countdown to the actual cutting or groundbreaking
√ You may decide to hold a traditional ribbon cutting or groundbreaking ceremony, with one or a few brief speeches. You may wish to include other activities, such as tours of your facility, exhibits, recognition of dignitaries, music or other entertainment, a raffle or refreshments. You may also want to have brochures available or a handout of frequently asked questions and answers about your business.
√ If you plan to conduct tours, choose your tour guides in advance, or have a self-guided tour with signs or handouts to direct event attendees.
√ Provide safety items such as hard hats or goggles if necessary and secure or rope off any unsafe areas.
√ If you want to include exhibits, consider posters, blueprints, a scale model or a large map of your facility.
√ Refreshments can be simple or elaborate, and are usually determined by the time of day when your event is held.
√ Be sure to follow up with thank-you notes to all of your speakers, sponsors and other VIPs who attended, as well as your faithful staff.
√ Consider sharing your photos/videos by posting them online, including them in your newsletter or using any other appropriate means of getting your news out.