By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Your family might have had one.  Your high school class probably has had several.  What are we talking about?  Reunions.  High school or family reunions have been common events for folks to get together every so many years to catch up and reminisce about the past.  Reunions are filled with ono food, good friends, and lots of fun; however, businesses should take PR cues from these gatherings as they offer a time to connect and maintain strong relationships with your most powerful ambassadors: your employees, former employees, and retirees.

The idea of company reunions is not new.  On Kaua`i, the Waiohai, Coco Palms, and Kaua`i Surf Hotel have brought together staff members for reunions.  “The Garden Island” reported on Jan. 11 that “About 60 former employees of either GTE Hawaiian Tele­phone Co., or Verizon Hawai`i, or both, accepted the invita­tion of leaders of successor company Hawaiian Telcom to attend the first of a series of statewide Homecoming 2006 events…Daniel ‘Dan’ Smith, vice president of corporate communications for Hawaiian Telcom, explained that Homecoming 2006 was a means for the new owners and managers to connect with and acknowledge the efforts of those who built the company to what it is today.”

Inviting past employees to your reunion helps you to reconnect with individuals that you may not see often, but have had a significant impact on your business.  And, it communicates to them that you are appreciative of their contributions, value keeping in touch, and want them to still feel a part of your corporate `ohana.  Allowing current employees to learn about the history of your business, especially from those that were there before them, is invaluable messaging that helps your staff gain accurate understanding about where your business came from and relate that to where your business is headed and their role in the big picture.  It’s important to note that your employees, old and new, are the people that know your business the best, and their opinion of your company carries the greatest weight to your customers and the community.  When planning your next company gathering, consider a reunion.  You’ll have a great time while doing great PR.

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