As part of its expansion plans on Long Island, Stop & Shop was interested in building a new store in Farmingdale on a parcel of land that presented several obstacles. For starters, it was a former EPA superfund site. Additionally, fierce community opposition had already stalled several prior proposed development projects for the nine acre site. Stop & Shop management recognized the challenges of getting its project approved and the lengthy process it would likely take. However, due to the potential financial rewards of building a supermarket in what was currently an underrepresented market, it was willing to take the risk. Having successfully represented Stop & Shop on a number of other projects on Long Island, the agency was brought in to develop a comprehensive public relations program to assist in getting approval for the proposed supermarket.
Over the course of the next several years, we developed and carried out a multi-faceted PR campaign that included community outreach, government relations, publicity, website development and management, direct-mail and the creation of numerous collateral materials. Early on, the firm established and maintained an open line of communication with key community leaders and local organizations. The agency arranged a series of meetings for Stop & Shop’s director of real estate for metro New York to address concerns and share information about the proposed project. As the process further unfolded, the agency helped identify and nurture support for the project while mitigating the strong opposition.
As part of the media outreach efforts, we targeted local and regional print, broadcast and web media, utilizing press releases, fact sheets, and other written materials to advance positive stories about the project. Those efforts included identifying and securing a handful of community leaders to speak to the media in support of the supermarket, a move that added significant credibility to the overall message.
In addition to creating community events such as a fall festival, spaghetti dinner and informational meetings at the local library, the agency organized bus trips for Farmingdale residents to attend key town board meetings, all as a way to further advocate for the project. An organized group of active pro-Stop & Shop citizenry was formed, along with a petition drive asking town officials to allow the supermarket to be built. Eventually, the number of supporters grew to more than 2,000 Farmingdale homeowners, dwarfing the opposition group.
As expected, the application process took several years but thanks to the overall success of the PR program, the Town of Oyster Bay ultimately approved the project. Two years later a brand new Stop & Shop opened in Farmingdale and has performed beyond expectations. The store has been embraced by the community and will continue to serve the needs of the local area for many years to come.