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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Celebrating your 50th anniversary?

Tracy Poler, Marketing Co-ordinator at GVA Architects in Columbia, MD (near Washington, D.C.) posted this question on

Creative ideas desired on how to publicize my Architectural/Interior Design firm's 50th anniversary?
My firm is turning 50 years old next year, and the principals would like to do more than the staid gold foil insignia on letterhead. We are a cutting edge architectural/interior design firm and I would like that to come across in this endeavor - whatever it may entail. I am blanking on fresh ideas and thought that the bright minds here could offer up some ideas that they have and/or things that they have seen work for others. Any help is greatly appreciated.

The answers to this question are creative and intriguing:

Arnold Jones
New Media Executive, Interactive, Internet, Branding, Techno / Creative [LION]

Tracey: I have worked on many anniversary publicity efforts based on self congratulations and an all around hurrah for being successful and lasting this long - and for the most part they are a good thing, everyone is happy with a job well done and then all go back to work..... On the other hand the most successful anniversary project I ever produced was when we convinced the celebrant to look outward at how they had improved the lives of so many people over the 100 years of their service to the state they are in. For employees, the video came to define their internal service culture; outwardly it was broadcast in the state and eventually nationally on PBS; it was bootlegged into the educational system of the state (4th grade state history unit) where it still enjoys a place dispensing knowledge and goodwill even now to new generations of customers. You may be surprised at how compelling your story might be if it is told through the eyes of the people who benefit the most from your service. Just a thought..... email me if you would like to hear more. Arnie Jones

Bruce Pilgrim
Marketing Communications Writer/Editor & Consultant
Consider making some type of contribution of time as well as money to some kind of "outside the box" endeavor, e.g., Habitat for Humanity -- maybe you could design a unique and/or better structure for them to build and help them build it. Or, perhaps conduct and/or commission a study on creative solutions to the homeless problem; something that involves providing practical architectural solutions to a social problem.

Scott Mickle
Working with Architects, Engineers & Contractors to create marketing and sales solutions that drive profit growth

Hi Tracey.. Scott here from SMPS Carolinas... we need to link up our profiles! Anyway, you have several great answers suggested to you and I think all of them would be a great success. But I have a question for you.. what is the point of the celebration? Is it meant to be all about GVA or to pump a few egos? (of course I mean that nicely)- Or can we spin this landmark year so that we do more than just create "brand awareness" and maybe get some new clients or at least prospects? ..Im assuming during these 50 years we have establish a decent awareness score in your key markets. So with that paradigm in place some ideas that come to my mind would be an evening event where you can invite former clients, current clients, and possible future clients to mingle together and network.. if the legacy founders are still around they could come back to tell stories and talk about the projects that founded the firm in a casual setting.This event could be held on the actual day Mr. Rodgers "founded" the firm and you could use DM to create a countdown to the party. Another thought would be to recreate the look and feel of the newpaper/magzine from the different decades and create profiles on the firms major project(s) from that time and then relate it back to today.. this would have uses in DM and online channel. My last idea will qualify as my crazy idea.... get clothes and other items that fit the different decades, you can create "themed" days, months, or an entire qtr to certain time periods where your employees can dress in that motif, you can have themed events, you could even go visit clients/prospects in era specific vehicles! Careful with the 70's and 80's with this idea.. Disco and legwarmers might be dangerous! LOL All jokes aside, this could allow you to celebrate all year and give people multiple chance to interact with you, connect on personal levels, and set the firm apart from every other architect in Columbia. Oh well.. just hope this gets your creative juices flowing. Feel free to call or email if you want to talk more.

Renata Rafferty
Philanthropy Expert & Charity Analyst

I am going to make a broad assumpotion that since you asked this question under the PR category, you're primarily looking for initiatives that will garner you the most/best PR. Mount a nationwide competition among design schools and university departments to submit a room design with 50 unique elements or details. Award something to the 50 students who submit the best (or most clever or intriguing or whimsical) designs. Then, publish a 50th anniversary commemorative book of the winning design illustrations, and include a great introduction highlighting your firm's history (and some of your firm's best designs from the years). This will give you mulitple bang for the buck -- the PR for the competition itself, the PR around the announcement of the winners, a great promotional piece for existing and prospective clients and VIPs that they will want to keep and perhaps show to others, and every winning student should get a copy or three to have and to show around. It works because it is not blatantly self-promotional, focuses on young and aspiring designers ('the NEXT 50 years"), emphasizes the "50," and gives you a very high quality evergreen piece that you can continue to use for years for a variety of purposes. If you like the idea, I'm available to work with you on it ;-) ...

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