A View from Blue Grotto

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Opportunity knocking

I sat down to write my blog this morning, after just having 'tweeted' a link to the College of St. Catherine on their flash book of the Centennial 100 celebrating my alma mater's anniversary, and I got to thinking about all the fabulous, and creative, and sometimes not so expensive ways organizations are honoring their milestones.

It is a natural tendency to focus on major milestones, for example, a centennial. But even the smallest anniversaries - of programs, product launches, leadership and leadership changes, partnerships - offer unique opportunities to celebrate, to reinvigorate and to learn.

So, I decided to use this blog post as an anniversary montage, with links to some of the coolest anniversary tactics I’ve come across. Maybe you’ll see one or two you can replicate or use as a brainstorming launching point for your own milestone celebrations.

A quick top ten (eleven if you count St. Kate's):

Loved this very clever milestone opportunity – a ring tone to celebrate Big Ben’s sesquicentennial in London http://www.parliament.uk/BigBen/.

In addition to being able to book your flight and handle online check-in, Virgin Atlantic’s website is loaded with fun 25th anniversary stuff - http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/en/us/25thbirthday.jsp. My favorite: a retro television commercial – makes the job of flight attendant look hip again.

NASA used its 50th anniversary to offer scholarships for middle school and junior high student winners of an Essay Competition - http://www.nasa.gov/50th/home/index.html.

The Guggenheim organized free and city-wide events in celebration of its 50th anniversary, including its first live music series - http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/about-us/50th-anniversary.

Lego, of course, celebrated 50 years with what else? A new brick! http://cache.lego.com/2057/anniversary.htm. And 100 other new products – way to supersize that half century mark!

Barbie fans worldwide celebrated the “Small doll. Big deal.” 50th anniversary of her royal pinkness. I particularly enjoyed the eight stories about Barbie milestones - http://barbiestyle.barbie.com/history.aspx.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association celebrated 20 years with a narrative video on the history of philanthropy in Colorado - http://www.coloradononprofits.org/news_20thanniversary.cfm. Truly inspirational stories!

Securities America used their quarter century milestone to give back with 25 weeks of community service in the communities they operate in – http://www.securitiesamerica.com/downloads/Invest%20in%20our%20Communities%20release%2009-09.pdf.

Similarly, the attorneys of Williams Mullen committed to 100 hours of community service or pro bono work to honor their law firm’s 100 year anniversary – nearly 300,000 hours of service to the communities the law firm operates in. Wow! http://www.williamsmullen.com/one-hundred-years-of-service/.

Share Our Strength, a nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood hunger, used their 25th anniversary as a platform for discussion, to generate ideas and to build momentum for their plan to end childhood hunger by the year 2015 – http://strength.org/conference/.

And, of course the College of St. Catherine created an entire year of Centennial activities in 2004-2005, even creating their own Centennial rose plant – http://www.stkate.edu/centennial/ … “putting a woman in the corner office for 100 years.”

Milestones are a chance to examine and celebrate what differentiates your organization from your competition. Be creative, be realistic and be proud of your accomplishments – big and small. Most of all, don't waste this opportunity.

Email me with examples of anniversary activities,

Yvonne Hundshamer
President, Blue Grotto Inc.

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