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Celebrate and Sell; Association and Company Anniversaries Can Spur New Products and Enhanced Engagement

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By Ronn Levine

To celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2018, the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry produced a special centennial video and glistening coffee table book. While the book cover features an attractive collage, pages 16-17 showcase a photo dated March 11, 1918, in Washington, D.C. of the 26 original members of the Contracting Plasters International Association. (Did every guy dress like an FBI agent in those days?)


The video begins on the fields of Ireland—yes, Riverdance music and all—with a plasterer and takes us through the years to a very welcoming immigration message and an education program where we see women learning the trade. The book and video—not to mention specially-crafted anniversary events at the conventionmade for quite a one-two punch.


“The goal was really to celebrate the history of the wall and ceiling industry and AWCI’s unique place in it while, at the same time, looking forward to what the future will bring,” Brent Stone, associate publisher, AWCI, wrote in an email to me yesterday afternoon. “To that end, we commissioned a special section of the Centennial Book—To Infinity and Beyond—in which we connected with members and relayed their prognostications. Yielded some interesting insights from our community.”


The effort was applauded by members. “We had strong participation from the sponsoring members—manufacturers—along with our primary audience of contractors,” Stone wrote. “A few of our regional chapters also chose to participate through sponsorship. Substantial work went into all the products. Within our industry, the association was well recognized for the impressive centennial celebration.”


All organizations have anniversaries of some sort, be it when they were founded, when the magazine, conference or awards started, or maybe even a rebranding. Why not use that to your advantage, content-wise and in marketing and sales? Trivia questions from over the years and “This Day in Our History” could make for good interactive content. Maybe there's a 25th anniversary that can become a $25 discount, or a birthday special if someone renews on her birthday month.


Other ideas suggested include an organizational timeline, whether digital or print posters perhaps. Making it interactive by clicking on a year to activate text/photos or a video could be a bonus. A collage of newsletter or magazine covers over the years, as AWCI did, usually makes for a nice spread or poster. (I have a cherished Super Bowl poster like that.) While any events would have to be virtual for a while, of course, books can still be printed and mailed out.  


Dani Gudakunst, managing editor for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, wrote on the AM&P Discussion Forum that their 125th anniversary was in 2018. “We reprinted one historical article pulled from our archives in each monthly issue that year. The actual anniversary was in October, so we did a special cover featuring leaders over time (first president, first female president, first minority president, and then-current president) and a foldout timeline of big moments in our association over the 150 years. We also created a digital, interactive version of timeline for the conference. We had it on big screens, since it was in-person, but I think it could work virtually as well.”


On a much shorter note, RACmonitor, a division of MedLearn Media, celebrated the 10th anniversary of its popular podcast, Monitor Mondays. They also designed a handsome logo that says, “Celebrating 10 Years of Live Broadcasting.” Mostly because of their excellent frontline COVID-19 coverage and maybe partly for the anniversary, they temporarily increased the podcast from 30 to 60 minutes as the audience also grew.


“One thing we did for our 35th anniversary was to create a short video timeline, which can be viewed here,” wrote Rita Zimmerman of American Inns of Court. "The video was played at a gala anniversary dinner. For our 25th anniversary, we did a special issue of our magazine that featured three articles about the origins of the organization. There is also a timeline, and a couple of articles that talk about the impact the organization has had on the legal profession… It was a very well received issue and became an historical reference for the organization… This year is our 40th anniversary and a dinner was planned, but has been cancelled so we haven't really done anything for it.”


In 2017, WATT Global Media kicked off a year-long celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of its launch. "As I look back through our historical archives, the one common denominator is serving the audience," fourth-generation president/CEO Greg Watt said at the time. WATT editors created a special content series called "WATT 100: Future of the Poultry Industry," that featured articles year-round in their publications. 


In January 2018, those articles were compiled in a special WATT 100-Year Compendium issue that was distributed at the 2018 IPPE Show and available as a digital edition. WATT also created a special website for its centennial activities, including slideshows and scans of all WATT magazines from when the company started running Poultry Tribune in 1917. 


This month, Cabot Wealth Network is marking its 50th year of advising individual investors. A handsome logo was developed for the anniversary. “Being in business for 50 years is significant,” said Ed Coburn, president of Cabot. “It’s nice to know that 50 years and hundreds of thousands of customers later, our reputation and excellent team of investment analysts are still producing the results for our subscribers and reaping benefits for Cabot as well.”


In 2017, a successful, one-month "BLR Turns 40" campaign kicked off with an overview that included a short history video and information on upcoming tie-ins: an I Love My Co-worker social contest; 40 Days of BLR Trivia; BLR store discounts (a 20% off coupon was sent out); and a charity element to the campaign.


The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) is celebrating its 50th year now by creating a video about the history and growth of the association and holding a contest to create words that describe aspects of members’ lives, noted freelance editor Ruth Thaler-Carter.


Contests, trivia, videos, timelines, posters, logos. Anniversaries are definitely a time to let your creative side roam.

Ronn Levine is the editorial director of SIIA. He can be reached at