Celebrating a milestone anniversary? We're revisiting one of our most popular articles to help organizations maintain best practices year-after-year. (Originally published on July 22, 2020.)
It’s time to break out the cake and candles — corporate anniversaries are certainly cause for celebration within your own company. They’re a reminder of how much you’ve accomplished, an excellent time to highlight your company’s history, and even an opportunity to grow and strengthen your corporate culture.
Milestone anniversaries can also be leveraged to increase your organization’s visibility among key stakeholders.
When it comes to media coverage for an anniversary, expectations from leadership can be high. A front-page article with the CEO’s headshot may be considered the holy grail, but it isn’t necessarily realistic for most companies.
The fact is, an anniversary alone isn’t newsworthy — it’s what you do with it that matters. Often reporters will generally pass on pitches that are solely focused on a company anniversary, but may bite if you have a unique angle that ties in broader social or economic contexts; a community benefit component, or a fascinating history lesson about your company (complete with compelling visuals from your archive).
Here are some tips to help you leverage your company anniversary and gain maximum publicity.
Identify a group of individuals in your organization to lead the anniversary celebrations up to a year before the actual date. Make sure to be clear about what your goals are as a committee and get buy-in and funding approval from senior leaders.
Have plans for internal and external engagement and consider how you want to measure the success of your campaign — whether it’s media metrics, brand awareness, employee engagement or something else.
Get your employees involved
Use this time to celebrate your employees and deepen their understanding of your history, values and culture. Throw employee appreciation events, hold contests, and even bring together employees to volunteer for a worthy cause. Build excitement internally, and their enthusiasm will be reflected in their interactions with your external stakeholders.
Shape your narrative, from past to future
Think critically about how you want your key stakeholders to define your company. Use this moment to cultivate that reputation or identify what you want your organization to stand for as you grow. From there, get creative with telling your brand story. Film a video series to share on social media, create a virtual timeline for your website, host events with your stakeholders — or try something totally new.
Plan a newsworthy event
Hosting an anniversary event is not newsworthy in itself. However, if you can design an event that demonstrates your company values or delivers value to the community or industry, you may be able to attract media attention.
You may want to use this year to launch a broad community initiative, long-term campaign or annual event that lays the groundwork for establishing a legacy of giving back to the community, addressing injustice or cultivating future leaders. You can also incorporate large donation announcements throughout the year to organizations your customers care about. Quantify your work and have allies and advocates ready to tell your story in a personal way.
Share your history in a compelling way
Reminisce about your company’s history and the history of the community that has supported you over the years. Provide context around your company’s origins and create nostalgia around a shared narrative. Identify longtime employees who can add color to the history of the organization. Positioning your organization’s history as intertwined with your audience’s will promote brand loyalty.
Your anniversary gives you an opportunity to do much more than mark a milestone year on your calendar. Remember to broaden your focus beyond the anniversary itself and make the story about your company’s impact in the community — how you affect your customers, employees and the world around you.