While many communities are starting to open up and resume things as much as possible, big gatherings can still be off-putting for some, even when you host them outside. This is why the virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony or event might be the way to go.
A ribbon-cutting may be one of those events many of your community members might want to avoid.
People may want to join in but it might not feel worth the health risk and what new business wants a COVID diagnoses marring their press for the first few weeks they’re open?
That’s why some chambers have embraced virtual ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the time being.
If you’re considering hosting one, here’s what you need to know:
Why a Ribbon-Cutting?
Ribbon-cuttings bring a community together and help people get excited about new business growth but they don’t have to be saved just for new businesses.
Many businesses are reopening and would like the fanfare surrounding a ribbon-cutting. Whether it’s a reopening, a new venture within an existing one, a special anniversary, or a move to a new location, an in-person or virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony can make it a special event.
If you plan to make ribbon-cuttings available to businesses outside of just grand openings, make sure your members and community know this. Many will assume you have to be a brand new business to warrant a celebration.
But you also want to balance the need/demand. Place some parameters around who is eligible to host a ribbon-cutting or that may be all you end up doing!
Reasons for a Ribbon-Cutting
There can be a number of reasons a business may want to host an in-person or virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony.
- new business
- new business location/opening up another branch
- new service offering
- landmark anniversary
- new ownership
- physical addition to the building
- redecorating/interior design
- meeting new requirements or designations such as becoming a designated autism-friendly experience
How to Conduct a Virtual Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
A virtual ribbon-cutting can take several forms. You can decide on the format you want or use all of these formats to best meet the needs of the individual businesses or celebrations.
This type of virtual ribbon-cutting has the chamber CEO and the business’ leadership attending (socially distant and masked, of course) an in-person ribbon-cutting with the audience online watching the festivities.
Limited In-person Activities
This is a hybrid event. Some people will be in person in the audience (a limited number of attendees) with the remainder watching an online event.
Complete Online Event
This event requires a little more planning as you would host it completely online. You can “digitally” cut a ribbon on Zoom while everyone watches or you could send ribbons to everyone participating and let them cut their own ribbon from home.
Ribbon-cuttings can be individual events (for a single business) or you can use one ribbon-cutting to celebrate several businesses. For instance, if gyms in your community are allowed to reopen, you could do one massive ribbon-cutting for all of them and then announce the names of each business that has reopened.
Places to Advertise Your Virtual Chamber Ribbon-Cuttings
Like any chamber event, how you advertise is important to drawing a crowd, even if it’s only a virtual one as in this case. Here are a few marketing tools you should be using:
- Blog about the ribbon-cutting. In addition to the basic information about the ribbon-cutting, tell the business’ story and spotlight what makes them special. Make sure you tell the business that it’s out there so they can share it and link to it from their website.
- Share on social media. Share the details of the ribbon-cutting and the business/industry on social media. If it’s an unveiling ribbon-cutting (as in the case of a new interior design) tease the audience about the unveiling and ask what they think it will look like.
- Run Facebook ads. Use targeted ads to let your audience know about it.
- Place it on the chamber calendar. Virtual events should always be on the calendar too.
- Ask the business to share your posts.
- Send out an email of upcoming events.
- Host a contest around the ribbon-cutting. This could be a “like this post for a chance to win” contest or something out of the ordinary like asking children to draw a picture of something linking back to the business. Get the community involved.
- Write a press release and circulate it. In addition to sharing the basics of the ribbon-cutting, include the business’ story and a “feel-good” angle for the story. Many news outlets are looking for these types of human-interest pieces. Help a reporter out by giving them something like that to create an article around.
Finally, ask your chamber staff, ambassadors, and board to share all of these event notices and pictures.
Examples of What Chambers Are Doing for Virtual Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies
Some chambers began making this shift as soon as businesses had to limit how they do business, while others saved ribbon-cuttings for reopenings. Here are a few examples of how chambers across the country are incorporating virtual ribbon-cuttings into their event schedule.
Checkout these virtual and hybrid events.
This one had a limited number of masked attendees and live-streamed the event for everyone else.
This is a combined effort that highlights many businesses at once:
Ways to Make Virtual Ribbon-Cuttings Extra Special
Finally, at this point in the COVID calendar, many people are tired of virtual events. They want to get back to normal but that is not always possible in every location. If you’re hosting a virtual event, you may want to consider ways to make your event unusual and thus drive attendance. Here are a few ideas:
- deliver an individually-wrapped goodie to those who registered by a certain date. Make sure it’s contactless delivery.
- host a drawing for something from the new business for all those who register to attend.
- offer a special online deal for those in virtual attendance.
- “cut” the ribbon in a unique way.
- add a special activity to the ribbon-cutting such as a quick tour, DIY lesson, secret recipe unveiling, or craft idea.
- host a contest ahead of time and announce the winner live with a limited amount of time to “call-in” or “text.” Winners have to be watching the live stream.
Don’t forget to make up for the picture in the paper. Keep in mind that some people enjoy ribbon-cuttings because they want their picture in the paper or on a wall. They want to be associated with business growth in your town. You can still help meet this need by creating a press release and forwarding their pictures as part of them or create a Zoom portrait of those in attendance.
If in-person ribbon-cuttings are not available to you now, consider your options with a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony.
With virtual ribbon-cuttings you needn’t worry about masks or social distancing but you can still have a fun and memorable event!