The Shops at Riverside

Marketing Public Relations to Crisis Communications— Awareness Building Campaign for Upscale Shopping Center

The Shops at Riverside in The Wall Street Journal
The Shops at Riverside (formerly called Riverside Square), an upscale shopping center in one of the most affluent counties in the nation, offers shoppers an experience that is anything but ordinary. Among the shopping center’s 70 specialty stores are Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Pottery Barn, Tiffany & Co., Brookstone, and many other of the best names in fashion and home style, as well as many fine restaurants such as Morton’s The Steakhouse, and McCormick & Schmick.

The Shops at Riverside selected Caugherty Hahn Communications, Inc. in a multi-agency search to create and implement a communications campaign that included marketing public relations, crisis communications, and community relations, with the goal of driving shoppers to the mall.

Five days after being retained, the terrorist events of September 11 occurred, prompting the need for a plan to cement the bonds between the upscale mall, its merchants, and the surrounding community.

Through the United We Stand Wall of Hope project, retail employees and shoppers were given an outlet to express their grief and patriotic sentiment, while rallying together as a community. Donations were collected for the American Red Cross, and a dozen community leaders were present to share their remembrances and hopes for the future.

The Wall Street Journal featured The Shops at Riverside in a front page Marketplace story on how the mall was changing its holiday preparations and events, or not, due to the crisis.

During the holidays, the community once again came together at The Shops at Riverside to support two local non-profit organizations. A blood drive in partnership with the Bergen Community Blood Center, a pledge made in September 2001, once again reasserted the mall’s place as a valuable corporate citizen and contributing member of the community.

Focusing again on the stores and restaurants, the mall was positioned as a media resource on trends in fashion, home decoration, and shopping, as well as the pulse of the community on topics ranging from consumer confidence to “Blue Laws.”

In under five months, the shopping center was featured on:
  • The front page of The Wall Street Journal's Marketplace Section
  • CNBC broadcasted the station’s entire Christmas Eve retail shopping updates from the Shops at Riverside
  • Gifts selected by The Shops at Riverside were featured on ABCs Good Morning America on Christmas Eve
  • CBS Evening News featured the mall on New Year’s Day
  • NBC Nightly News, local ABC, CBS and NJ affiliates aired segments showcasing the mall and shopping trends
  • The “open door” policy established between The Shops at Riverside and the news media rooted this upscale shopping destination as the go-to location for any retail story, with signage and mall management as spokespeople on shopping trends
  • The mall was regularly featured in the leading daily newspaper: 10 times on the front page of the shopping section, 4 times on the front page of the business section, and twice on the front page of the paper. Dozens of local weekly newspaper stories covered the mall ands its stores.
  • The equivalent advertising value of all placements during the period exceeded $500,000, and includes more than 90 stories (50 print and more than 40 television segments).
Over subsequent years, The Shops at Riverside sustained their place as a leading shopping center with high-quality merchants and restaurants. Ongoing media relations campaigns boosted the mall’s coverage to more than 130 features and news stories, and an equivalent advertising value of $650,000.

Other community outreach programs conducted by CHC with the mall included Fashion Shows, partnerships with area non-profit organizations such as The Valley Hospital, the Junior League of New Jersey, Japan American Public Relations Network, and the Center for Food Action, among others. A special project partnered the mall with county elementary schools and The Record’s Newspaper in Education campaign, again affirmed The Shops at Riverside’s position of a community partner.

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