PR/communication folks are lucky if once in their career they get to work with a business icon – a brand that is well known by everyone. teamworks communication has been honored to work with several during the 22 years we’ve been
in business – we worked with Blockbuster for 17 years and 7-Eleven for nearly 20. Working with the “big brands” allows you the ability to be part of a larger team, be super creative and admittedly, the big names help open some doors.
Late last year, teamworks was selected to manage the Fall 2019 grand opening planning and publicity for the opening of the first White Castle “west of the Mississippi” here in Arizona. For 10 months we wore the hats of party planner, strategist, promoter, community relations rep and press agent. We calculated stanchion lengths and tent coverage, managed expectations with potential partners, made introductions to community groups, and answered hundreds of media queries.
Opening the “world’s largest White Castle” was fun, exhilarating, tiring, challenging, and above all, rewarding. Though we were on our feet for days upon days setting up for the festivities, and then welcoming thousands to the party, the end result was an event that flowed well (even with the multi-hour lines of customers) and got a ton of media coverage (15 million impressions and counting).
Best of all, we got to work with one of the best teams we’ve ever partnered with – the White Castle family (both literally and figuratively since it is still a family-owned business after 98 years, and all crew members and staff are considered family). After making the grand opening, ribbon-cutting speech, CEO Lisa Ingram pulled her hair back and went to work on the grill, helping to cook some of the 50,000 sliders they sold in the first 20 hours of the newest Castle. Family members who came to the event helped bus tables, restock cups and napkins, and made ice runs for the outdoor bottled water bins. It was truly “all hands on deck,” regardless of title, job description or DNA.
The next few days were a PR case study in real time….crafting messages for media when it was decided we needed to close the doors for a few hours early in the mornings to clean and restock because the demand was so constant….spending time walking the lines of customers to answer questions and capture their nostalgic White Castle memories and reasons for waiting in line for hours…watching multiple traffic helicopters fly overhead at the same time and fielding call after call, and email after email, from the media who wanted to be part of what arguably had become the biggest restaurant opening story of the year.
We also really honed our special event skills. Partner Sharon became known as the “stanchion whisperer” – as the lines changed length, she could create the appropriate mazes to keep customers lined up. Our line-management team of Jessica, Katy, Berkley, Nick and Maggie greeted thousands of customers, always with smiles on their faces, and always making it a positive interaction. Partner Barb made sure each and every media person got the interviews and shots they needed (and a few sliders that they wanted).
Our now dog-eared “run of show” document, listing every little detail, delivery, and interview, has now been put aside, though the lines at the Castle continue as of this writing and the media continue to show their love. Being part of this iconic brand team reinforced our skills and strengthened media relationships. It reminded us of just how fulfilling it is to truly partner with a client. It taught us just how much can be accomplished when there’s a common goal of satisfying customers and creating memorable moments.