Historic anniversaries, such as the centenary of World War One this year, often inspire a PR and marketing frenzy. The 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking, for example, led to various activities from memorial cruises to collectable memorabilia. The key is to make sure everything carried out is relevant, and to remember that the event is the star. Always be respectful and consider the enormity of the event and its meaning. If it is commemorating a conflict, for example, it is vital to remember that people died during it and it is therefore inappropriate to be too commercial in tone. If the brand doesn’t fit, then don’t try to shoehorn brand messages into the story. If the PR activity is pertinent then the brand or company can be seen as respectful, or even enabling. An example of this would be bringing together the ancestors of those that were actually involved in the Great War, or assisting with the development and construction of a memorial feature.
There is certainly no shortage of historic events to consider – not only ones of national and international significance, but also ones much closer to home. Many businesses use their own milestones and anniversaries to stimulate PR and marketing activity. Virgin Records made a lot of its 40th anniversary in 2013, with live shows, exhibitions, books and documentaries and it is quite possible to generate positive PR around a 10thanniversary, for example, with a new logo, special offers and special events.
Thorough planning is essential in order to ensure the PR activity is thought through and delivers for the brand. Be mindful of possible restrictions on the use of images and logos to ensure no rules are broken. It is important to set objectives, including the target audience and reach, for example, reaching gardeners with a special poppy seed kit for the anniversary of World War One. It is a must to set targets – both for sales and for audience reach. Decide on the media that is going to be approached regarding editorial coverage, how many likes on the Facebook page, and the scope of the Twitter campaign. At the end of the campaign it is then possible to measure success in terms of reach against the objectives and, if a product is being sold, the actual sales figures.
With care and respect brands can use historic anniversaries to leverage positive PR. However, it only takes an inappropriate or insensitive tweet to incur a backlash via social media, causing potentially long-term damage to the brand.