Webinar Hosted by The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce I  April 29, 2020

(AS DELIVERED)  By Michael B. Perini, Panel Member

Thanks for setting this webinar up and for the opportunity to share some insights on how to communicate a business or nonprofit re-opening.

First, I just want to say we at perini & associates are so sorry for everyone who has been ill and/or had a loved one die due to covid-19.

As some of the panel members have already said, sharing reliable, trustworthy information is important during a crisis.

Having a plan to successfully reopen depends heavily on the communications strategy and the activities that are developed.

Lessons I learned from past experience as a senior public relations practitioner during 911, hurricane Katrina, forest fires and other crisis situations has taught me critical lessons communicating to employees, stakeholders, news media and the general public.

I know due to covid-19 many are frustrated and stressed and as a result the amount of information your customers can understand and remember at one time needs to be communicated in clear, simple ways.

There is a need to provide hopeful and caring messages in dialogues with employees, customers and the general public going forward.

Always be truthful.

The fact you are likely operating on a very meager budget the ways you can communicate your reopening needs to use tools that are not so time consuming in human resources and financial expense.  I understand that.

So, here are some ideas.

And if we have time, I would be glad to offer other examples of what you can do if you have a marketing budget, which of course, I would recommend to really accelerate information getting to customers as you reopen.

First,  be intentional about telling the public that you are reopening.  This is no time to be shy.

Second,   be sure to inform customers about your safety measures.

This includes mentioning  hand sanitizer, masks, no more than 10 customers at a time and social distancing/requiring that tables are 6-ft apart, etc.

Whatever the guidelines are from state, county, city and public health departments for you to reopen.  These need to be visible and made clear so that people feel safe in your business.

Now for some specifics.  I am going to cover these quickly for those of you who might be taking notes but would be willing to provide additional details during the question period. Also, you will find this list on our website later today. Www.periniassociates.com

Let’s start with:

  • Each day pick three phone contacts to text or call about reopening.
  • Each day have your employees make three phone calls or text to their friends, family and those they already connect with the great reopening news.
  • Change your business voicemail now to the message that you are opening –with dates and times.  Because most people do not like long answering machine messages direct them to your business facebook page or website or even the flyer you have placed on your storefront with additional details.
  • Speaking of flyers, these can be easily designed and are very inexpensive to generate. Post them around town.  There are many places where flyers are accepted.  I would suggest 8.5 x 11 so other businesses can also have space to communicate their reopening.
  • If you belong to a church or any community organization share your reopening information with them at least 7 t0 10 days in advance – if you can — and ask them to share it with their members.
  • Send the information about your reopening via email and ask others you know to do the same.
  • If you are on social media, then place a post on your page and on the teller county and woodland park groups.  There are many to choose from.  Be sure to ask all to share. You can also take photos of your preps to reopen and pass them along.  This will generate “buzz” as we say in the marketing world and will  encourage conversation about your business.
  • And yes, if you have a website place your announcement on the front page – large enough for viewers to see right away.
  • I would also suggest you call the local media and tell them that you are reopening.  This is a hot news topic and you are likely to get positive exposure reaching many people that you would not likely have been able to so efficiently.  The reporter might even want to cover your first days back.  If so, you should encourage it.
  • Now is the time to think about signage. “we are open” signs displayed prominently either in windows and/or with yard signs and/or with banners. For ex – we know one local business owner who is going to display a vinyl, limited menu in her front window.
  • Along these lines, you should have an employee stand out in front of your store front with a sign indicating that you are again open.
  • Offer discounts and meal specials for the first week or so to build your return business.  For ex, one local restaurant we know of will be offering family meal deals.
  • Again, I am trying to keep these ideas at little to no cost, but buying an inexpensive fb ad to announce openings, specials and days/hours is also something you should consider.  You can do this for just a couple of dollars a day with really good targeting results.
  • If you are a Chamber member, you should create a post for the weekly grapevine.  It goes to many beyond just chamber members and is an excellent way to promote your reopening.
  • There are many  electronic community boards out there where you can post short announcements for free.

Look, if you have a budget for paid advertising then yes, you should consider print, radio, tv and online.

Again, as I said at the start, now is the time to plan to communicate.  If you take action now, then you be rewarded with customers returning  sooner.

Finally, I would be interested in any marketing ideas you might like to pass along to those on the webinar.  I am sure they would appreciate it. (AS DELIVERED)