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    OPEN HOUSE PLANNING GUIDELINES

  • Open house for: _________________________________

  • Coordinator – Select staff member to serve as Coordinator

    Open house coordinator
    Phone number

  • PRELIMINARY PLANNING

  • Plans for an open house should begin a minimum of six weeks prior to scheduled event.  However, 2 – 3 months advance planning time is preferred.

As soon as a staff person has been selected to serve as the event coordinator, please provide that person’s name and telephone number to your media liaison and to the Community Relations Officer HSS/PERC.

ESTABLISH A BUDGET: The budget should include items such as: printing of invitations and programs, mailing, decorations, food and other supplies, rental of equipment, etc.  The proposed budget must be submitted to the appropriate person in your department for approval.  Contact the landlord to determine if he/she is willing to provide financial support for the event. 

DETERMINE YOUR PURPOSE:  Discuss/decide, together with the department head, what it is you want to accomplish by holding the Open House and set three or four objectives, with action steps.  For example these action steps could be: obtain media coverage/exposure for your program; and acquaint other departments with your services, etc.

DATE/TIME:  Select date and time, and an alternate date and time for the event.  Coordinate the date with the Board of Supervisors members in whose district the office/event is located, and other key department heads or VIP’s you determine should participate. 

DEVELOP A GUEST LIST:  The purpose that you defined earlier will assist in deciding who should be invited.  Ask the Board of Supervisors or their assigned staff and the department head to submit names and addresses of any guests they would like to have invited. Area newspaper editors, specific reporters and radio and TV station program managers, local businesses and Chambers of Commerce should be included in this list.  Names and addresses of local media can be obtained from the Community Relations Office. 

One way to increase chances of a good turnout and make more people aware is to ask a local dignitary to serve as the guest host/hostess for the event.  Example: County Board of Supervisors members, the mayor, council members, police chief, local service agency director, popular radio announcer, state senator or assembly member, etc.

ESTABLISH COMMITTEES:  The open house coordinator should assign chairpersons individually responsible for establishing their own committees to handle things like refreshments, hospitality, takedown and clean-up, etc.

  •  INVITATIONS

PRINTING: Determine the number of invitations that you will need.  Always order at least 50 – 75 additional invitations over and above your guest list to cover any last minute additions.  Establish a cut-off date for RSVP’s and someone to handle RSVP’s. 

County Printing Services has generic blank invitations (with the County logo) and envelopes.  The local office should develop the invitation content.  The invitations can be printed at County Printing Services upon receipt of a completed Printing Requisition.  Printing requires one month.  If the time you have to obtain printed invitations is insufficient, you can order blank invitations and type or print the desired message.  Blank invitations may be obtained by calling Forms and Distribution, (909) 386-5104.

The invitations should read:

The County of San Bernardino Board of Supervisors

Cordially invite you to attend the grand opening celebration of

(Your department name/off)

If someone of note is speaking, you can include this information here as:

Officiating will be …Supervisor

Or

Remarks will be offered by…Congressman

MAILING:   Invitations should be mailed two to four weeks prior to the event. The local office is responsible for preparing labels and mailing the invitations.  Be sure to check with County Mail Services to insure that you are correctly preparing the invitations for mailing.

Follow up phone calls should be made by key staff to key people on the guest list to extend a personal invitation to the event should be made one week prior to opening.  These calls would only be made to dignitaries who had not responded to the invitation.

  •  PUBLICITY

 If the public is invited, a press release should be sent to all local newspapers two weeks prior to the event.  Public service announcements should be sent to all local radio/TV stations. These tasks should be coordinated with the Community Relations Officer.  If the public is invited, an outline of Open House activities should accompany the press release.  If the public is not invited, press releases should be sent out to all local newspapers following the event.  The press release should announce that the building was officially opened on “such and such” date. 

  • THE EVENT

REFRESHMENTS:  The local office shall identify the most appropriate local source for food trays, coffee/tea/punch, paper products, flower arrangements for centerpieces, etc.  The local office should submit a 003 form to Buildings and Finance for the purchase of needed items.  Buildings and Finance Division will issue purchase orders for the local office to obtain above items. 

 PROGRAM:  As soon as possible, establish your program/agenda and the “flow” of the event.  Determine who will speak and who will participate in the ribbon cutting or any other ceremonies you may want to have.  Try to have everything confirmed at least two weeks in advance of the event so program printing isn’t done at the last minute.  County Print Services can usually print programs as a “quick copy” if the program is done on a readily available paper and in black lettering/graphics.  You will want to double check with Print Services on the time it will take to print programs.

Ask the Supervisor or department head to offer welcome remarks and recognize VIP’s in attendance.  If there is a speaker for this type of event the speaker’s message should be brief.  Open house events typically include a ribbon cutting with dignitaries and local Chamber of Commerce (if deemed appropriate).  These provide great photo opportunities for photos to be used in newsletters, etc.

Someone should be appointed to thank departing guests for coming. 

OPEN HOUSE ACTIVITES:  Open house activities should be designed to provide guests with information about the programs offered by the department.  Activities may include guided office tours, display tables with brochures, program information, etc.

 The coordinator should appoint tour guides to lead guests through the facility and explain programs and services.  If the tour is self-guided, knowledgeable, personable staff should be stationed at each stop on the tour to greet guests, pass out informative literature and talk about the portion of services or program the tour stop represents.

The event coordinator should appoint one or two staff to act as greeters to welcome arriving guests, hand out programs/agendas and direct them to the name tag table, refreshments, etc.

NAMETAGS:  Nametags for dignitaries should be prepared in advance and provided to them on arrival.  Nametags and heavy felt tip pens should be available near the guest book for all other guests. There should be a guest book and fancy pen at the entrance, and all guests should be encouraged to sign the guest book.  This list is extremely important for two reasons: To develop future guest lists and to send out an event evaluation following the event.

  • EVENT CHECK LIST:

    The following is provided as a guide.  Some of the items listed may not be relevant to your event.

    Food, beverages, linens, centerpieces, tables, chairs, trashcans

    Podium and microphone

    Container to hold business cards for a raffle (if you choose to have a raffle/door prize)

    Welcome sign

    Program agenda

    Stanchions, ribbon and scissors for ribbon cutting

    Tables to display brochures and other informational literature on your programs and services

    Entertainment (soft background music or performer)

  • POST EVENT

  • Send thank yous out to everyone who participated in the presentation of the event (speakers, staff, volunteers, etc.).  Send thank yous to anyone who assisted with sponsoring the event.  Schedule a critique meeting with the individual committee chairs to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the event.  Provide Pat Wolff, Community Relations Officer, HSS/PERC with a copy of your invitation and guest list, as well as feedback on revising, improving or enhancing these instructions for future Open House planning.

    Prepared by:

    PR Beaman, Media Specialist, ED/PSG

    Pat Wolff, Community Relations Officer, HSS/PERC

    December 2001

 

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