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Groundbreaking, Harley Style – PR Tips for Small Business

Author: Joan Stewart   |   February 28th, 2010

When Harley-Davidson broke ground for its $95 million motorcycle museum in Milwaukee last week, you had to look pretty hard to find a shovel.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the event, but readers didn’t have to suffer through one of those awful groundbreaking photos. You know the kind: a bunch of stuffed suits lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, looking ridiculous in those hard hats, and poised with their feet on the shovels, ready to turn over the first spade of ceremonial dirt.

Instead, when it came time to break ground, the company called in dirt track racer Scott Parker to do the honors. Astride a Harley-Davidson Sportster, Parker tore up the dirt by letting the back wheel on his cycle spin for about 20 seconds. He flung dirt into the air, to the tune of the loud “vroooom,vroooom, vroooom” coming from the exhaust.

How refreshing. And all because Harley figured out a clever way to move dirt.

Another Journal Sentinel photo showed people filling vials with dirt as a keepsake of the event.

Corny? Sort of. But thankfully, still no photos of shovels.

The next time you have to schedule a groundbreaking, think of a clever way to move the dirt, or save it. Or don’t even worry about moving it or saving it. Instead, plan an interesting groundbreaking event, something the media can really get excited about.

Or forget the groundbreaking altogether. PR whiz Dan Collins suggests commissioning an artist to paint a picture of your new building. Then sell the artwork to raise money for a worthy charity. That virtually guarantees that your local newspaper will publish a photo of the artist at work, and maybe even cover the story later when people start buying the art, then again when the charity does something newsworthy with the donations.


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