How to PR a venue opening – it’s an art form!

How to PR a venue opening – it’s an art form!

1st July, 2016 by Fran Langdon

From museums and heritage attractions, through to bowling centres and bars, our clients are often either reopening their venues following a refurbishment, or opening brand new ones.

But when it comes to the crunch, the old adage of ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t really apply. In reality, a high energy programme designed to drive awareness and excitement at a local level, both in the run up to and after launch, is critical when it comes to delivering footfall and hitting commercial targets.

Here are some tips for dreaming up a water tight PR and communications strategy to make your opening go with a bang:

  • Decide what the most important thing you need to achieve is – is it a busy opening night, or brand awareness in the local area, for example? Knowing this will help develop appropriate tactics that will work hard for you.
  • Kick the press juggernaut into gear early – pre-promote the opening to local media, invite the news team to the opening night and then use photography from the night to achieve a second wave of press coverage.
  • Photography – make sure any photography you take on the night is of a professional standard. Make a brief that covers off everything you might need going forward – from shots for local media to shots for Point of Sale – and stick to it.
  • Hold a launch night – they bring focus, help create a sense of excitement and outwardly demonstrate to people that your venue is the place to be.
  • Make sure your campaign is integrated – for a truly successful launch, as many audience groups as possible must be targeted, from solus emails to your database, to direct marketing and ramped up activity on social media.
  • Work with local bloggers to pre-promote the opening night and review your venue – it’s an impactful way of delivering quality press coverage to a different audience and making them your unofficial brand ambassadors for life. They’ll also support you on social media, increasing your natural reach inestimably.
  • Know your area – some tactics such as guerrilla marketing will work better in smaller areas, whilst in bigger areas, towns or cities often something more brazen may be required.
  • Get feet on the ground – there is no substitute for local networking, from sending out your venue’s staff with information about the opening night to putting promo teams on the streets with details of opening offers.
  • Spend wisely – big ticket items such as out of home advertising can be very powerful, but spending more money doesn’t always equal getting more impact.
  • Be true to your brand and stand out – make sure whatever final tactics you decide upon inherently communicate your brand’s messages to consumers and – whatever happens – make them memorable!