How to Maximize the PR Value of Brand Milestones and Anniversaries

How to Maximize the PR Value of Brand Milestones and Anniversaries

Brands too often fall short of getting the most out of the major milestones and anniversaries that they celebrate. Most organizations settle for posting a celebratory news post on their website and social media channels, perhaps followed by an internal party for employees and families. However, there is so much more that integrated strategic communications can accomplish by going the extra mile with a comprehensive campaign centered around the company celebration that combines public relations, social media and creative thinking.

That extra mile is what we at the Dalton Agency call “the power of different.” It is the foundation of our creative and strategic thinking, driving the decision making behind every public relations, marketing, social media and communications campaign we develop and execute.

Thinking differently about brand milestones and anniversaries can open a wealth of opportunities to further raise organizational awareness and employee morale. The key strategy to making this happen is mobilizing every level of an organization and considering how every activity celebrating a milestone could be leveraged for PR opportunities.

Here are a few examples of tactics that brands can explore as potential building blocks for a successful strategic campaign celebrating an organizational milestone or anniversary.

1.    Show Your Colors– Most communities have major landmarks and structures that are lit specific colors at night in honor of special occasions. Organizations celebrating a major anniversary have an opportunity to generate media coverage by working with local or national landmarks to light up in their brand colors. We recently worked with Easterseals, the nation’s largest healthcare nonprofit, to light up landmarks in the brand’s signature orange colors to celebrate the organization’s 100th anniversary. Nearly 50 iconic national landmarks participated in the celebration, including New York City’s Empire State Building, Niagara Falls and Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The impact of these lightings was amplified by outreach to local and national media, which ran stories alerting readers and viewers to the purpose behind the orange lights they would see that night. This was a truly comprehensive campaign that also provided Easterseals local affiliates with opportunities to participate. Several affiliates leveraged their own relationships to secure more local landmark lightings, which in turn spurred greater levels of local media coverage.

2.    Put Your People Front and Center– Organizations would not be able to celebrate major milestones without the hard work and dedication of their employees, so any celebration would do well to share the spotlight with the entire team. For example, a publicly traded national firm that plans to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of its 50th anniversary could have a c-suite executive do the honors, or it could invite top-performing employees to share in the unique honor and ring the bell as a team. The former approach may generate a national headline and a Tweet or two, but the latter approach complements that national exposure with local media eager to cover how a resident had the opportunity to ring the opening bell of the iconic New York Stock Exchange. Sharing a photo and a well-written caption with the editor at the local news outlet is simple and will extend the PR value of the event.

3.    Mobilize Your Markets– National organizations can significantly amplify the success of brand milestone PR campaigns by tapping into local markets. Publishers Clearing House employed this strategy years ago when the decision was first made to divide its trademark, singular $1 million SuperPrize into multiple $10,000 prizes that would be awarded in 100 different markets. Rather than complement one or two national news stories with a single local market where TV crews would be covering a resident receiving the iconic Publishers Clearing House check from the Prize Patrol, the team multiplied that effect by 100 with local affiliates alerting their market’s media that a prize crew would be coming to their town.

4.    Make It Interactive– Augmented reality and interactive technology are opening new ways for organizations to celebrate major milestones. Some brands have even taken a proactive approach, installing interactive technology in their buildings that can be updated to align with new product launches. Our Nashville team worked on such a project with Mercedes-Benz at the automotive manufacturer’s plant in Alabama. The facility, called the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center, offers the public an opportunity to look into past milestones of the historic company while learning what the future may hold for vehicles of tomorrow. Our team collaborated on a project that created a room that surrounds visitors with LED screens along the walls that they can touch to view content about new concept cars. As the plant paves the way towards a new future for mobility, this room will be at the heart of how it shows new milestones to visitors and media.

These tactics are just the tip of the iceberg in how the power of different can maximize the overall value of a campaign. I hope marketers and communicators will keep this in mind as they start planning out how they will celebrate their brand’s upcoming milestones.


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