Sunday, June 21, 2009

anniversary PR, social-media style

Organizational anniversaries can be a challenge, even for the most creative communicator. They recur with alarming frequency, and nearly always are considered more important internally (by your board, management, members) than they are externally (by the media, public audiences, or donors), especially if they don't end in a 5 or a 0...or even then. But social media's being used by a variety of organizations to stir up unusual anniversary approaches, creating new resources for communicators and making these events more widely accessible--and interesting to wider audiences. Cull from these new ideas and resources before your company or organization's next big anniversary:

  • Pretend Twitter had been invented 40 years ago: That's the idea behind the Twitter accounts honoring the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, the mission that landed man on the moon. Nature News tweets under the tag @ApolloPlus40, posting events as they happened 40 years to the day. We Choose the Moon is using a variety of platforms, including Twitter accounts for Apollo 11's Mission Control and the spacecraft. This may be a good tactic if you have an historic progession of events with many dates and steps to be marked throughout an anniversary year or over several months.
  • Blog your archive, diaries, letters or logs: Open your archival materials and look for the founders' diaries, letters, a significant log or other ongoing records. Then use a blogging platform to re-publish them, turning the meaning of "dated" from old to simply an ongoing web log. You can read several historic diaries in blog form today, including the work of the great diarist Samuel Pepys and author George Orwell. Letting your founders talk takes on a fresh authenticity when presented in this way.
  • While you're in the archives, find those photos: Sharing archival photos may be one of the most powerful ways to share an anniversary celebration. Whether you use Facebook--the most popular photo-sharing site--or Flickr, consider making publicly available your archival photos, then add those from your current-day celebrations.
  • Everything old is news again: You may be able to find useful fodder for your organization's anniversary in two vast digital newspaper archives. The Library of Congress has digitized more than one million pages from American newspapers at its Chronicling America website, where you can find pages from from 1880 to 1922 from the following states: California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. And the British Library has put 2 million pages from 19th and early 20th century British newspapers online here. Why not go find your media coverage--from back in the day?
If you're using social media to commemorate an anniversary, leave details in the comments.

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