Groundbreaking News: Pier 33 Goes Vertical

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It was years coming, but on February 7th of 2019 Dewitt Carolinas officially broke ground on downtown Wilmington, NC’s newest riverfront development. Pier 33 was first announced in 2014, in conjunction with an adjacent project featuring a marina and two restaurants – which is complete. Wilmington residents were getting anxious to have more housing available on USA Today’s Best American Riverfront. A full-blown, classic and classy groundbreaking was called for.

“What a great event.” I heard it over and over again as I walked among Wilmington’s leadership at the groundbreaking luncheon. But great events don’t just happen. It took creativity, commitment and a network as long as the day.

Great events can be a true zenith of a series of activities. Margee Herring was the point person, the doer, the creative thinker. But she had a great client, too, one that understood the importance of this event and the need to invest in its success. The Pier 33 leadership offered to host an entire luncheon topped off with a champagne toast, uniting those who played a role in getting this project into and off the ground.

But the inner workings are the PR story. Why this was a great event can be summed up in the value it brought to the client:

FluentPR Co-Founder, Ann Revell-Pechar with VIPs during the event
  1. Public Communication: as noted, the intention to build this apartment complex had been announced years earlier, and the site had been cleared for some time. Those who have made an investment in the Wilmington community are curious people who sometimes get anxious about how major developments will impact their quality of life. The official groundbreaking was our client’s opportunity to share their vision with the public and demonstrate the reliability of the full development team. Oh, and it’s a super time to build excitement among potential tenants.
  2. Elected Officials and Influencers: When a project with a big public and economic impact is proposed for a city, elected officials have a stake in its success. Such projects, after all, can create momentum, stimulating subsequent municipal investment. Groundbreaking events, then, are an ideal time to generously share the spotlight.  Acknowledging other stakeholders and inviting them to the podium, broadens your appeal and builds good will. For Pier 33, this meant inviting civic boosters, immediate neighbors and other downtown developers to demonstrate the project’s shared impact.
  3. Media: What a perfect time to bring media in to tell your story! It’s highly visual – there are actually shovels going in the ground. You’ve gathered a lot of movers and shakers, so there are great interviews to be had from business professionals and elected officials, alike.  And it’s optimistic. A perfect recipe for coverage.  But, don’t stop there.  Recognize stakeholders and invite them to share the story with their audience. For the Pier 33 groundbreaking, we invited Wilmington Downtown, Inc. to use the event for Facebook live, or to build a story for their newsletter.  The contractor’s PR team used the event to their advantage, too.  By encouraging and accommodating others to claim the event for their purposes, we broadened the reach and coverage exponentially.

Groundbreaking for the Pier 33 apartments and retail succeeded in all three of these areas. We congratulate Dewitt Carolinas and wish them great success at Pier 33 for decades to come.

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