How To Throw a Pre-Opening Reception: Raise The Bar

Posted in Advice and Counsel, Business Development on August 18th, 2011 by M.Perini

by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

A great public relations tool to develop and maintain relationships is hosting a pre-opening reception.  We just lead an effort recently for a upscale business that had moved to a new location.  The tips below work for any type of business; small or larger.  And, these ideas work regardless of type of industry.

First, why go to the trouble of putting on a special event?  Here are three great reasons.

1.  To express appreciation to your employees.

2.  To thank your vendors and sponsors.

3.  To build that all important “fan” base.

Sure, this activity takes time but in the end, if done right, will create buzz about your business and drive customers to you.

These few small adjustments to your pre-opening reception can have a huge impact.  I recommend you follow this advice to fast-track results.

1.  Start with a plan.  Sit down and prepare a written plan to use as a roadmap.  The plan will be a great tool in keeping you and your team on track.  There are lots of moving parts and you need to be sure that you stay on top of all of them.

2. Decide on a time and date.  A critical element is choosing the right time and date.  This means having your facility ready; open for business. Meet with the general contractor and get a commitment that all will be ready for the reception.  Also, spend some time looking at the community calendar.  Try an avoid conflicts with other activities if at all possible. Pick a start time that lets folks get from work and maybe freshen up a bit, especially for an early evening affair.

3. Inform your staff.  Meet with employees.  Share with them your vision for the reception and explain why it is important and what their role will be. A discussion on proper attire and protocol will take an ordinary event and turn it into an extraordinary one.

4. Think logistics and think again.  Food.  Refreshments.  Parking.  Hostess.  Music. Sound system. Outside signage.  Inside dazzle.  There are numerous moving parts and selecting the right vendors can make an average evening go to A+.  Success is really in the details and many businesses aren’t willing to take the time or spend resources here.  Don’t cut corners as logistics is the fuel for a successful outcome.

5. Add 1-3 special “party favors”.  When guests arrive have something for them to do; to take home.  At our last affair we had a small clipboard that we handed out at the door to be used as a gift registry.  It also served a purpose of updating customer information and showing to the customer that the business owner really cared about their preferences for purchases.  We also tagged items with special flyers to publicize an upcoming auction.  Finally, a piece of chocolate with the logo of the store was presented to all as they left the affair.  The key with favors is selecting those that add to the reception and are fun to accomplish.  Don’t over due this as the list is endless.  Again, one to three is enough.

6.  Give a thorough cleaning to your facility.  Dusting.  Sweeping.  Cleaning the restrooms. Power washing the entry way.  I know this seems basic but again, I can’t tell you how this is often not thought of till last minute.  Think of it this way.  If you invited guests to your home you want your house to be seen in the best light, right?  This same high standard goes well when hosting a pre-opening reception.  It is all about first impressions.

7.  Come up with a guest list and add to it if necessary.  Lists can vary from 50 to 200 and maybe more.  Early on you have to decide how many would you like to invite.  This reception is a VIP affair and the numbers should reflect this fact.  Start with your current customer data base and then add community representatives, i.e.  nearby business owners, local government officials, chamber of commerce and other organizational leaders.  Once the invites are out the buzz will begin.  You are likely to get a call from someone who feels that they should have been invited.  Work this call delicately but the goal should be, if at all possible, to add them to the list.  In the end, if you miss someone special, then host a unique reception later on with those people and build that negative into a positive activity for your business.

8.  Design an invite that reflects your business.  Hand addressed envelopes are preferred with the invite.  The invite should be designed by an experienced PR/Marketing graphic designer so that the product integrates other business materials for a consistent look. The goal is to put the invite into the mail 14-21 days from the event.  Any later and you will have nightmares wondering about the total numbers which are necessary for all those logistics (Food, refreshments, etc.) mentioned earlier.  Be ready to forward your invite via email and have enough printed copies for anyone who comes into your business that might not have been on your list.

9.  Give a “pre-game” talk and set up a slide show before you open doors.   Yes, a prep talk is necessary.  It gets everyone into the event and allows for questions and last minute adjustments.  There won’t be time to go over things once the doors are opened.  Also, a very useful tool is to produce a slide show that contains images and information about the business.  Also, a great way to thank customers and sponsors. Brainstorm with staff on photo ideas and messages to be used.  Project the production on TV monitors placed throughout the facility.  This product has “shelf life” and can be used for other occasions.

10.  Mingle, mingle and mingle again.  A business owner meeting and greeting each person at the door adds a special flair and clearly shows the importance of each guest.  In addition, time should be set aside at the halfway mark for several minutes of remarks by the host.  A toast or two should be considered.  Most attendees will expect some kind of “official welcome,” so go ahead and plan for it.  Have the key messages written down on the back of a business card or small piece of paper so that they can be easily referenced just in case of stage fright.   Yes, it happens and you don’t want to wish you had said something but couldn’t remember in that moment.  Thank all appropriately but also use the venue to highlight upcoming business activities.

One last tip.  Take photos.  Shoot video.  You will go home tired and excited about a successful reception but the work doesn’t stop when you turn out the lights and lock the doors.  Follow-up is vital and having good photos/videos will be useful. I will share some thoughts on next steps after the pre-opening reception in an upcoming post.

Finally, if you shore up these 10 areas you will have a successful event that will be the conversation for some time and drive your business to new levels.

If we can help, please call.


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Why A Business Seeking Government Contracts Needs PR

Posted in Advice and Counsel, Business Development on July 14th, 2011 by M.Perini

by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

There is a significant value of investing in public relations strategies, programs and tools when seeking government contract work.  It isn’t just about churning out proposals.

Government contracting is a complicated process and successful business development is key to creating the relationships that will open doors to winning contracts.

Here are some useful tips — “The Important Dozen”.

1.  Seek a public relations expert.

2.  Think like a reporter.

3.  Have a good story…then TELL it!

4.  You need a great message!

5.  It isn’t just about churning out proposals.  That is the first step, sure, but not the last one.

6.  A PR consultant can help a company from being considered a “novice” business by avoiding these mistakes and helping with charting the correct course:

  • Don’t market to every federal agency that MAY be a potential customer. Instead target the top few agencies.
  • Don’t bid on every contract.  Pick and choose those that you can effectively manage.  (Companies have gone out of business “winning” contracts they cannot perform.)
  • Do not try to be all things to everyone. If a company goes outside of their core competency, they will likely lose focus and confuse buyers and program managers.

7.Give it to the pros.  You go to a doctor when you are sick.  You seek a lawyer when needing legal advice.  So, ask for assistance and do not do PR yourself.

8. Do not be inconsistent.  Pleasant persistence pays.  A PR pro can assist you with the strategy and tactics for staying in touch regularly.

9. Public relations experts can help with positioning stories in proper print, electronic and Internet locations.

10.  Be smart about “delivery vehicles” – traditional and new media.

11.  Your company needs a crisis communication plan – before the crisis!

12.  Take the binders off and see that there is a key. marketing’s role in driving revenue, gaining market share and shaping mindshare!

EXTRA!  Shaping what contract officers and decision makers think of company “X” is a particular strong suit for a public relations consultant.

Perini & Associates is CCR-registered.  If you need assistance with the PR challenges when seeking government contracts please contact us.



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Speechwriting Help: From Blank Paper to Standing Ovation Part 1

Posted in Advice and Counsel, Research on July 7th, 2011 by M.Perini

by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

Public speaking often takes the #1 spot as a phobia or fear.  This intense anxiety prior to, or simply at the thought of having to verbally communicate with any group can cause physical distress, nausea or feelings of panic.

I have had the opportunity to be both a public speaker and the individual drafting up comments to be delivered by someone else — from U.S. Presidents and general officers to small business owners and non-profit leaders.  An estimated 75% of all speakers experience some degree of anxiety/nervousness when public speaking, according to Communicating for Results: A Guide for Business and the Professions/Edition 8.

I know I have felt some uneasiness just prior to stepping to the stage but have been able to overcome this distress with experience.  Organizations such as Toastmasters International, POWERTalk International or Association of Speakers Clubs (in the United Kingdom) are great sources for training and gaining the confidence to reduce the fear to manageable levels.

Writing a speech, can for some,  be an equally daunting task and can seriously add to the discomfort associated with public speaking.  As I mentioned, I have written numerous speeches for all organizational levels and all possible public events.  Here are tips from my many years of perseverance, perspiration and inspiration.  There is nothing better than to start with a blank page  and end with a standing ovation.

  • Find out the nature of the speaking occasion.  Details and more details.  Here is where you conduct research about the purpose, venue and props.  The occasion will dictate content, duration, tone and audience expectations.  This is a necessary first step that cannot be shorted.  Again, dig deep and deeper still.
  • Meet with the person delivering the speech.  What I call “Ghost writing” or writing a speech for someone you don’t know has many risks and is often the key reason for ending with a bad speech.  So, meet with the speaker.  Bounce off ideas and word choices to ensure that the speech is in the style that is comfortable for the speaker.  Learn from results and key on enhancements that make future speeches even better.
  • Come up with a theme. Determine the “road” that the speaker and those in audience will follow to ensure that no one gets lost along the way.  Remember, the heart of a speech is the message.  The job of both the speech writer and the public speaker is to pass that message to the audience.  Ask yourself:  “Are we conveying a theme?  Evoking an emotion?  Eliciting a response either emotional or a call-to-action or maybe both?”
  • Who is the audience. Young?  Senior?  Special?  Educated?  How many?  Today, with the internet and smart phones the audience is NOT just those at the venue.  The speech could be a useful vehicle for informing others and this fact should be part of the brainstorming process when reviewing speech topics.  Also, associates of the speaker or experts in the subject matter should be consulted as a source for additional information to fine-tune the speech. These additional aspects — golden nuggets — will enrich the speech and be appreciated.
  • Yes, you need a structure. Start with a speech outline.  Key categories include:  Introduction, Main Sections and Concluding comments.  In other words, determine the “chapters”  or main points — like in a book — to chart the direction of the speech. Your public speaking goal should be to engage, stimulate, entertain and pique your audience’s interest as you convey a message.
  • Seek Feedback. Many speechwriters loath this advice.  I have found, however, that feedback is an invaluable step.  This practice will potentially save you from much controversy and embarrassment.   It’s better to learn any problems with the speech before it is delivered, don’t you think?   I try to seek feedback from 2-3 people to include one not directly related to or attending the event.  Through experience I have gained feedback regarding inappropriate content, error(s) of omission, grammatical problems and appropriate use of humor.
  • Your voice or perfect English. I’m a strong advocate of using natural language with it comes to writing non-formal (e.g. business, award ceremonies) public remarks.  The familiarity will allow the audience to engage with you and put the speaker at ease when delivering the speech.

Again, as a formal speechwriter I’ve studied many speechwriters and many public speakers.  In my opinion, the best was Abraham Lincoln, and his best speech is the Gettysburg Address.

I would like to hear from you.  What essential speaking tips have you learned?  What are your favorite speeches?  Speakers?

Remember, we are here to take your speaking ideas from blank paper to standing ovation.








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What Is The Role Of Public Relations In Fundraising?

Posted in Volunteer/Fundraising/Nonprofits on June 23rd, 2011 by M.Perini

by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

In today’s economy successful fundraising is difficult at best.

Making it even harder is the strategy used by many organizations to jump right into to what is commonly called, “the  ask”.  In other words, to figure out the simplist way of getting the donor to give, i.e. by check, credit card, payment  program, any amount is ok plan, etc.  This effort is often followed up with the promise of recognition of some sort, i.e., name on a banner, flyer, program, brief mention in remarks during a post campaign event.  All these elements are necessary, yes, for successful fundraising, but  have limited long-term value without first building a foundation with the potential donor by creating and facilitating conversations around the “who” and “why”.  This critical component, that  will result in achieving better fund raising results, is the role of public relations experts partnering with fundraisers and using well tested strategies and techniques.

We all need to remember: The choices supporters make about which charity to donate to today can be won or lost on establishing the right messages –– this important task needs to be left to experienced public relations professionals.

Here are 10 important reasons why fundraisers need to give more attention to public relations strategies and methods.

1.  Well lead PR programs (message development, story placement, marketing, advertising, use of social media) can raise awareness.

2.  PR programs can reinforce and build on the messages that fundraisers are giving to supporters by garnering media and public support.

3. PR professionals can help find and target potential fundraising audiences and encourage the conversation and thus commitment.

4. PR can be the cornerstone of telling a good story about how the fundraising made a difference to transform the way people think about  the next fundraising campaign.

5.  Fundraising aims to encourage donations. Strong PR supports  that “call to action” by showcasing the charity’s integrity, need for funding and benefits from how the money was spent.  PR can help develop a strong and effective case study library that will help motivate fundraisers and donors alike.

6. The PR and fundraising teams (or individuals depending on the size of your group) should be pulling in the same direction.  Meeting and sharing information on a regular basis is vital.

7.  PR experts can help fundraisers think about the difference between donors (those who give donations) and supporters (those who give their time to volunteer or help raise funds).  Both these groups have stories and they need to be recognized.

8.  Worth repeating from #1: use of social media. Social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter are useful PR tools and growing in usage every hour.  Your PR expert can develop a strategy tailored to generating income.

9.  Using PR in fundraising campaigns can be measured to determine how much it contributed.

10.  PR should always be practiced. This is a strategic discipline and not a tactical technique.  Fundraising, in my view, should be viewed as a specialization of public relations, not the other way around.

Times are tough.  The pot for giving is small.  Therefore, great communication is even more important.  Now it is especially important to let supporters know about your organization, cause or special donor event BEFORE “the ask” as well as following up afterwards.

I know from experience that  a strong and integrated public relations component will result in persuading more supporters to come your way. So, please think about the role of PR in fundraising.  We would like to hear how you have used PR in your fundraising efforts.

Call us as we can take your fundraising efforts to new levels by integrating public relations.





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NEW ASSOCIATE: Photographer Sheena Harper

Posted in Team on March 3rd, 2011 by M.Perini

Perini & Associates is proud to announce Sheena Harper as a new associate.

“Sheena brings years of professional experience in photography,” Michael Perini said.

“She provides the agency with the photo consulting expertise we needed,” Perini said.  “She understands the art and science of great images,” he said.

Her portfolio is outstanding: Winter X Games 12 and 13;  New Orleans Associated Press  photographing the pre-game festivities outside of the Superdome for the first game after hurricane Katrina, as well as a Saints game in the Superdome.

Her photos have been published in El Paso County Parks & Nature Centers’ Parks & Program Guide, Colorado Springs’ West Side YourHub print edition, The Independent in Colorado Springs, Dreampower Animal Rescue Foundation’s  Newsletter, The Aspen Times, the Manitou Springs Public Library ‘s Calendar, and Pikes Peak Region Summer Fun Guide.

“Experienced and reliable, this outgoing photographer has great people skills and a passion for coming up with creative and unique photographs at every event.  I have found that a great photo is all about the lighting.  Sheena has got this aspect down pat,” Perini said.

She has interned with two newspapers learning the art of photojournalism and how to see and capture fleeting moments, in turn preserving them forever. Harper was also a finalist in the ‘Best of College Photography” book in 2006, ’07, and ’08.

In the public relations world, having photos that communicate  are key to the success of an organization, event or issue. Understand more.

Today, Harper  stays on the cutting edge of the industry by being an active member of the Professional Photographers of America and the Professional Photographers of Colorado. “Sheena is not only creative and understanding and knowledgeable about the client’s needs, she is also a successful business owner,”  Perini said.

Harper owns Sheena Harper Photography, a successful and growing lifestyle and wedding photography business based out of Woodland Park.
“When you look at her talent she has what it takes to help us take clients needing visuals to new levels,” Perini said.

To learn more about our associates please visit this page.


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News and Tips via “ePerini”

Posted in PR Firm, Public Relations News on September 16th, 2010 by M.Perini

HOT! ePerini Newsletter

Check it out!

Find all issues of the popular ePerini monthly newsletter with tips, news and information related to public relations!  Reputation Management. Public Affairs. Access Services.  Business Development.  Lots more!

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The A-Team: Our Associates

Posted in PR Firm, Public Relations News, Team on July 8th, 2010 by M.Perini

by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

Just like the new “The A-Team” movie our A-Team of associates represents some of best talent around.

To be honest, our team isn’t as silly as leader Col. Hannibal Smith or strongman Bosco “B.A” Baracas, insane pilot Murdock or faceman Peck, but they do click as a group and they have all been pretty damn successful in solving the myriad of public relations challenges that for others might defy logic.

Let’s meet the Perini & Associates A-Team:

Ben Caperton: To be able to meet the needs of clients in fundraising, event planning, and general first responder disciplines like police departments, fire and emergency response organizations, it was critical we have Caperton on the team.

Bill Erickson: Erickson, is the newest associate and he has the product manager experience that we were looking for.  He is a accomplished leader with 20 years experience impacting organizational performance by introducing industry-leading products to market, new processes to business and managing support though the product life cycle. His portfolio also includes consensus building and reputation management.

Gail Fisher: Fisher has 15 years experience in the hospitality industry. Her professional work includes experience as an Independent Meeting and Travel Director. She was the on-site manager in district and regional pharmaceutical meetings and large sporting event coordination including the 1994 World Cup and 1996 Summer Olympics.

Ed Flanagan:  Flanagan, owner of Manitou Motion  Picture Company, has 25+ years of national and international television & film experience. His experience encompasses shooting, producing, editing and directing award-winning projects, including television specials for nationwide syndication, network news stories (ABC, NBC, and CBS), documentaries, educational videos, commercials and animated adventures.

Andrew Hershberger: Hershberger brings seventeen years of professional ‘sweet’ experience in graphic design, branding, marketing and advertising. Hershberger’s clients have been in arts and entertainment, construction, higher education, financial and legal, gaming, government and utilities, healthcare, non-profit, publishing, real estate, retail, and sports and recreation.

MNM WebWorks: Matt Upton, owner, develops internet-based programs that are transforming the way organizations communicate, exchange information and transact business. The services provided include building market-oriented web sites, database application development, web site hosting and maintenance, search engine optimization, and e-mail systems.

Red Energy Public Relations: As the business grows we believe it’s important to be able to create and maintain valuable customer connections so having another firm lead by Amy Sufak, on the team –- at the ready — to assist as needed, is key to the company’s growth.

Will Temby: Temby brings strategic planning, business development, public policy, building collaborative relationships and customer service to our team. During a 20-year career in the hotel business, he held leadership positions for the Steamboat Ski and Resort, Hyatt, Sheraton, Renaissance and Hilton corporations. He has received national recognition for financial performance and customer service delivery.

The Caperton Group: The Caperton Group will be the associate that we go to for clients who need leadership mentoring in all aspects of non-profit management, from technical  to motivational strategies.

Steve Turner: Turner brings two decades of professional experience in media relations. He has worked on dozens of campaigns on a national, regional and local basis with clients in architecture/construction, finance, healthcare, high-tech, home improvement, retail and sports marketing.

The A-Team movie reviews highlight the fun and thrills for audience goers and promises a summer blockbuster viewing that will be hard to dislike.  The reviews of our elite group of unflappable experts showcase the value added when clients hire our A-Team.

Remember, there is no plan B!

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