You say it’s your birthday? Whether you run a plumbing business or provide software or services to the home service industry, here’s how to use the occasion to boost your company’s visibility.
Company anniversaries are a great way to generate earned media coverage. The trick is to avoid it being a mere mention in a collection of business briefs. Done right, anniversary celebrations help secure prolonged exposure of your company’s management team as thought leaders, and cement its reputation as a stable, comforting presence in your community.
According to the Society for Marketing Professional Services, business anniversaries can be used to generate a great deal of goodwill for your company:
“Think of the milestone as a year-long celebration of the company’s longevity, and plan an anniversary campaign that strengthens the brand and promotes the firm and its mission. The target audience for the anniversary campaign could include employees, clients, prospects, potential hires, partners, and media influencers in the company’s target sectors. There are many marketing and PR activities that lend themselves nicely to anniversary promotion. Your goals, budget, and target audience will determine which activities best fit your company.”
Here are some ways to leverage your milestones into a steady stream of content that can publicize your company and lend it additional credence:
• Planning: A sophisticated anniversary campaign requires extensive planning. Stakeholders and public relations and communications teams should meet early and often. Brainstorming should commence well ahead of time. Remember, you want this to be a campaign, not a one-off cake-cutting.
• Highlighting: Focus on aspects of your company history that can be most compelling to journalists. What are your company’s greatest milestones? Don’t just say, “We opened X years ago.” You need a good message to highlight your company’s endurance. Instead, say, “100 years ago we began making XYZ, and that changed the direction of the XYZ industry.”
• Storytelling: Every successful business has a story behind it. Everyone loves a good success story. Your company is more than a business. A successful anniversary PR campaign needs to highlight the humans that made the sacrifices and took the risks and hired the people who made your company what it is today. Identify especially colorful characters in your company, and share their stories. Who is adept at sharing anecdotes in a relatable and humorous way? Is your first hire still on board? Have him or her tell their story and share their memories.
• Cultivate nostalgia: It’s called “comfort marketing” in some circles. Older generations, particularly baby boomers, like to be reminded of good times past. What were the newest car models when you first set up shop? What were the fashions of the day? What might your original employees have played in their van on their way to a job? People will associate your history with their own, and that’s a marketing slant that can promote more brand loyalty.
• Share your good works: Perhaps your company has sponsored a family in need each Christmas or organized company food drives. Try to quantify the positive impact you have had on the community during your history, including the number of jobs you have created and the economic impact you’ve delivered. This will cultivate positive brand awareness.
• Own the anniversary: If a competitor or other local company is also touting an anniversary at the same time, you really need to up your game. Local media especially will get what could be termed “anniversary fatigue.” Just as you want to own your competitors in the field, you want to own the coverage in your market. Make your anniversary campaign stand out. If significant local, national or international news breaks when you want to start pitching, slow your roll. Nothing can be more tone-deaf than calling a newsroom when the staff is scrambling on a major news story. You might sink your coverage before it even hits the water.
• Parallel your successes: Maybe you first set up your plumbing shop in an underserved or blighted part of the community that shines today. Cultivate your reputation as a pioneer or risk-taker that believed in the future of your neighborhood or overall city and community.
• Daily deals: Run specials every day to correspond to the number of years you have been in business. This can be done via an advertising or social media campaign or can be integrated into earned media coverage.
• Social media: One way to create sustained interest in your business milestone is the thoughtful use of social media. Generate ideas for creative social media use to celebrate your anniversary. How about a regular “on this day in company history … ” post? Social media pages can also bring together retirees or current employees to share their favorite stories about the company. Events marking your milestone can also be publicized and consistently updated.
• Media reach: There are niche publications for every company and industry under the sun. Take the time to pitch your best anniversary angles to a range of media.
• Events: While it’s important to avoid too many cliché events, such as cutting an enormous cake emblazoned with a company logo, they are a useful outreach tool. Such themed happenings are also a good way to bring the community into the fold and reinforce your local presence.
• Looking ahead: A milestone anniversary is a good time to consider a rebranding effort. That can include the unveiling of a new logo or website. You could also write a mission statement outlining key company concepts and goals, such as improving diversity or sustainability efforts, in the years ahead. l
Heather Ripley is CEO of Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in home service and building trades. For additional information, visit ripleypr.com.