Blog

31st July 2020

Your history, well told

Celebrating business milestones and anniversaries matters more than you think. Allie Lindly and Shreena Patel explain how to make the most of them.

In the flurry of activity that often surrounds your regular communications, pulling together a campaign for an anniversary may seem like a superficial – even self-indulgent – endeavour. Not so. In fact, these milestones are key to developing your strategy, engaging your employees, and fostering a culture that honours the legacy of your business.

Of course, one size does not fit all. For example, although impressive, not every anniversary campaign has to be as big as the Boeing Centennial (which even included an eight-part documentary series with Discovery). But a successful campaign will tell your story in a way that is both creative and compelling, helping you to take control of your narrative, reenergize and reconnect with both internal and external audiences.

Certain celebrations might even be newsworthy and an opportunity to get your story in front of more people than you might normally reach.

Telling the history in a way that curates the facts and resonates with others is challenging. To do this well requires thought and preparation…

Develop your strategy
Milestones and anniversaries are valuable because they force us to take a break from our day-to-day preoccupations and reflect.

As you reflect on your company’s history and celebrate where it has carried you, you’ll identify pivotal moments – your first investor, first client, first setback – and longer chapters of growth, refinement, and transformation.

Interrogate these moments – What led you there? What did you learn? – and revisit the fundamentals of your business, the ‘why’ that drives your team and your work. In doing so, you can draw out a better understanding of your business, your purpose – and develop a clearer strategy for the road ahead.

For example, throughout its centennial campaign Boeing repeated the philosophy of its founder Bill Boeing – “Build something better”. These three words instantly capture the purpose of the business and remind audiences why they work for, invest in and deal with Boeing.

Engage your employees
Now more than ever, in a world of enforced separation and endless video meetings, people are feeling the distance and are increasingly dissatisfied at work. A recent McKinsey study found more than 45% of remote workers feel disengaged from their work.

Celebrating a milestone or anniversary is a valuable chance to reenergize and realign colleagues around shared history or success – it works for those who have been a part of the story since the beginning and new joiners alike. Whether you run a virtual event, a global contest, or anything in between, celebrating the moment signals health and growth, instils a sense of pride, and creates a sense of belonging.

It’s also a platform from which to cast your vision for the future. Especially in these uncertain times, employees are looking for leadership and direction and, with eyes on you, there is a big opportunity to deliver strategic messages that will inspire support.

Fly the flag
Engaged employees become culture carriers. By creating a shared legacy – calling up the best moments, recognising exemplary teams and notable achievements – you are flagging what good looks like and perpetuating the culture that carried them.

Or perhaps the past and its ways aren’t the culture you want to promote? Use this moment to be candid and specific about changes that need to be made to realise your vision and values.

Above all, communicate. Don’t let these moments pass you by. After all, if you aren’t telling your own history, who is?

For help making your next anniversary campaign a success, get in touch.