The Strategic Value of the Corporate Anniversary

Jennifer Yeboah : April 21, 2015 1:08 pm : Association News

WintropAn anniversary is a unique moment in the life of any company. With everyone’s attention focused on the past, there is no better time to show the world how past experience has positioned your company for future success. Far from a distraction or problem to be solved, an anniversary is a strategic opportunity.

Planning for this unfamiliar event, of course, can seem daunting. Faced with a blizzard of choices for how to mark the occasion, the busy marketing director or head of corporate communications will usually look first to the company’s last anniversary for inspiration. Yet in the intervening years the company and the world around it have changed beyond recognition, making whatever was done before largely irrelevant to their needs. So they turn next to peer institutions for guidance, only to find that one size or approach really does not fit all. Strategy, organizational culture, and industry dynamics are often radically different, as indeed is the story itself. Why, they conclude, would they want to do just what another organization has done?

Finally, with time now running short, many companies fall back on “balloons and fireworks.” That is how one senior executive dismissively characterized his own company’s bicentennial celebrations, which featured a glossy publication (more referred to than actually read), an exhibit in headquarters that could not engage more than a small fraction of a global company, and a glitzy marketing campaign trumpeting the company’s longevity without explaining how or why 200 years in business had prepared the company to meet present challenges any better than its competitors.

This all-too-common outcome is the result of a basic misunderstanding: an anniversary is less about the past (where have we been?) than about the future (where are we going?). How, then, can you leverage this rare and important milestone in the life of your organization to help build a successful future?

Three Principles of Effective Anniversaries
Since 1982, Winthrop has consulted on hundreds of anniversaries for companies large and small, young and old, global and local, and we have learned that successful anniversaries adhere to three basic principles:

1. Engaging Content. A good story—compelling, authentic, and true—is the single most important element of any anniversary. However you choose to commemorate that anniversary, whether through books, videos, digital timelines, marketing and public relations initiatives, executive speeches, gala parties, or employee retreats, depends on the story you have to tell. It must not only be entertaining; it must also be rigorous and independent enough to be credible with a skeptical audience both inside and outside the company. This demands high professional standards of research, writing and design.

2. Sensitivity to Context. Your company’s success did not happen in a vacuum. It unfolded against a backdrop of dramatic changes in the global economy, changes that in many cases will have radically transformed how and what the company does, and why. So it is not enough to list various milestones along the way to the anniversary. To fully appreciate the company’s achievements, audiences must understand how they connect to the larger forces to which it has had to adapt. When they do, they will have even more confidence in your ability to adapt to future challenges.

3. Enduring Value. Most anniversary celebrations barely scratch the surface of a company’s complex and often-fascinating story, nor do they attempt to link that story to the company’s strategy and culture going forward. If an anniversary is to have any value after the milestone itself has passed, it must establish an authentic and durable version of the company’s story that will support brand- and institution-building over the long term.

Key Questions
Even if you adhere to these three principles, you will still need to consider several key questions.

1. Purpose. Beyond its most basic function—to celebrate accomplishment—what else do you want your anniversary to achieve? Here are a few ideas that may surprise you: To substantiate key messages? Put adversity in context? Build employee engagement? Connect or even mend fences with key constituencies such as the business media or employees of acquired companies? Capture lessons from the company’s past experience that can be used to align culture to or even shape current business strategy? Remember that the answers to these questions, or even the questions themselves, might be different by the time the anniversary year itself arrives.

2. Audience. There may be substantial differences among the potential audiences for your anniversary: employees, alumni, customers/clients, suppliers, regulators, industry analysts, and the general public. Do not ignore these divergent interests: you will need to adapt your message and thus even the product or channel you choose to reach them.

3. Orientation. From what perspective should you approach your story: from the center (headquarters) or from the periphery (country, regional, or local offices or plants); from the CEO or controlling family, or from employees and professional staff down in the trenches? It is wise to balance different perspectives, lest you overemphasize headquarters or dominant cultures within the company and risk alienating critical audiences.

4. Focus. What is the most important aspect of the company’s story: continuity or change? The founding story or founder/founding generation and the extent to which those values have endured? Or is it a recent generation or current generation that has led the company’s successful adaptation to change over time? Any anniversary involves these aspects in combination but you may want to emphasize one over the other.

5. Logistics
• Who is the driving force behind the anniversary: the Chairman, CEO, or Managing Partner? The head of corporate communications or public affairs? Whoever it is, a strong sponsor is critical to avoid ambivalence or a loss of momentum.
• How much lead time do you have? The more the better: professional research, writing, design, and production all take time. The closer the anniversary deadline gets, the fewer things can be done well.
• Do you intend to mark a specific founding date in the anniversary year, or the whole anniversary year?
• What sort of raw materials do you have at your disposal: documents, historical artifacts, oral histories, current or past exhibits, or film and video? Who at the company, active and retired, would need to be interviewed as part of any research effort?
• Given your audience(s) for the anniversary, what product(s) or event(s) are best suited to reach them?

History Master Plan™
None of these questions has an easy answer. That’s why Winthrop begins most anniversary projects with a preliminary study designed to help you forge consensus around an anniversary plan that is right for you. We call it a History Master Plan™: a systematic, structured approach to anniversary planning. The History Master Plan™, which takes several weeks to prepare, has three elements:

1. A survey of the company’s archival material (in print and digital formats) and other historical artifacts that will serve as one source of insight into the company’s story.

2. Interviews with key stakeholders who will have a perspective on the history of the company and its importance to the anniversary and the company going forward. These interviews will
• identify the nature, purpose, audience, and objectives of the anniversary
• discuss possible applications of the anniversary in areas such as marketing and communications, employee engagement, organizational development, social media outreach, etc.
• capture stories, anecdotes, and insights surrounding key events, decisions, and turning points in the recent history of the company.

3. A survey of documentary and other published material on the company, its leaders (past and present), its markets, and its industry. This will identify the avenues of inquiry needed to place the story in its broader context(s) and to understand the themes that will resonate best with internal and external audiences. At the end of this process, we deliver a report that includes:
• A substantive outline of the key themes and questions to be addressed as part of the anniversary
• A menu of potential applications of the company’s story during the anniversary year, including our recommended option(s) based on a thorough assessment of your needs and opportunities
• An assessment of archival material that will serve as a basis for the professional research needed to support various anniversary products and events
• A project plan with dates, deliverables, and key decision points for the period leading up to and through the anniversary year.

Final Thoughts
Every day that a business opens its doors is another opportunity to fail as well as to succeed. Whether you are celebrating 10 years in business or 200, your anniversary is a testament to success against long odds, and a tribute to the vision and talents of your people. Such a milestone calls for a significant commitment of time and resources befitting any strategic opportunity. When you make that commitment, you’ll find that your anniversary is a powerful tool for shaping your future.

For more information, please contact John Seaman, Director, at (212) 944-4698;

© Copyright 2015 The Winthrop Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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100-Year Association Honors 8 Public Employees

Jennifer Yeboah : February 11, 2015 12:11 pm : Association News

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Dating back to when her mother, a clerk and later an Executive Secretary at what is now the Administration for Children’s Services, would bring her to the office to help alphabetize paperwork and bring documents to other employees, Tania Cruz has thought of herself as an “ACS child.” Since then, the agency’s child-welfare services stuck with her.

“When it was time to go to school, I specifically chose social work because I knew that I wanted to work with children,” said Ms. Cruz, now a 40-year-old Brooklyn resident.

A Temp Who Lingered

She joined the agency as a temporary employee 19 years ago. Once a hiring freeze was lifted, in 2001, she became a permanent worker and rose to eventually become Deputy Director of the ACS’s Central Eligibility Office, where she helps oversee a division that funds the agency’s work.
She received the highest honor among eight Isaac Liberman Public Service Awards given Jan. 16 by the Hundred Year Association of New York. First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris spoke during the annual ceremony, which was sponsored by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and held at One Police Plaza.
Ms. Cruz was given $3,500 by THE CHIEF-LEADER, which is one of the member organizations that have existed for more than a century, for her work.
Among her accomplishments was ensuring that ACS met requirements for Federal grants, known as Title IV-E, which reimburse the city for half of the money it spends on basic needs for foster children, administrative costs, staff training and recruiting foster parents. She has played a key role in passing three high-stakes Federal audits, and trains analysts outside the agency.

Put Added Funds to Use

The percentage of children for which the agency receives reimbursements rose from 40 percent in 2005 to 60 percent last year, with the added funding allowing ACS to expand services, such as a new foster-care program known as ChildSuccessNYC.

Ms. Cruz’s goal is to persuade the Federal government to be more attuned to urban issues. “I feel that when they do legislation, it’s very generic, it applies to the 50 states, but I believe that when it comes to the inner city, they really don’t understand our needs and our wants,” she said.

Because the public faces of the agency’s 6,600 employees are those in the field, Ms. Cruz said, she never expected her behind-the-scenes efforts to win her an award.

“I have no children, so I actually feel like all the children in ACS are my children,” she said. “I get very emotional when I talk about them, I get very emotional every time I’m working on a case.”

Others Honored

Other award winners included Mohammad Akram, a Traffic Supervisor with the NYPD, who was given $1,000 by Hagedorn & Company. As a nine-year veteran working out of Queens, he tows cars that block traffic. Even while off-duty, he walks through neighborhoods to document missing or broken traffic signs and has filed 500 “traffic-intelligence reports” with the Department of Transportation. Mr. Akram also is a member of his Community Education Council and the NYPD Auxiliary Police, and helps with the City University of New York’s citizenship campaign.

Joyce Rivers, a Deputy Human Resources Training Manager and Career Counselor with the Department of Homeless Services, was also honored for her work with several programs, including helping DHS employees locate scholarships and certification opportunities. She volunteers with social-service organizations serving Harlem and won $1,000 from John Gallin & Son, Inc.

The other honorees were Richard Chase, an Auto Mechanic in the NYPD, and Antoinette Vereen, a Principal Administrative Associate in the Department of Probation, who won $2,500 from James Thompson & Company and General Hardware, respectively. Also receiving awards were Gregoire Blain, a Fleet Collisions Coordinator in DCAS; Sandra Butler, an Emergency Medical Technician in the FDNY; and Rena Mussington, a Principal Administrative Associate in the DOP, who each won $1,000 from Collegiate Church Corporation, Alexander Wolf & Son and Henry W.T. Mali & Company.

Dozen Scholarships, Too

The Hundred Year Association and award sponsors also gave out $22,500 in college scholarships to 12 children, many of whom attend schools in New York.

Those winners of the E. Virgil Conway awards were Victoria Ng, Bryant Ly, Christine Phelan, Lindsay James Soto, Eva Chen, Anika Rastgir, Tiara Austin, Anthea Chan, Mustafa Gadelrab, Alexis Gray, Melissa K. Liriano and Lesley Ann Santos.

See the original article here.

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Hundred Year Member Lee Insurance Celebrates the History of Chinese America

Jennifer Yeboah : November 13, 2013 3:42 am : Association News

Come celebrate the opening of “The Lee Family,” a historical exhibition at the Museum of Chinese in America. Hosted by the Lee Family and Harold L. Lee & Sons Insurance.

Journey through the legacy of one of the most memorable Chinatown family businesses. Herb Tam, curator and MOCA’s Director 3of Exhibitions said, “What’s remarkable about the Lee family story, about the Lee family is how timely their various businesses were, in helping to shape and sustain the Chinatown community during some very challenging times.”

The exhibition is presented in an authentic recreated space of an original Chinese business storefront, complete with exquisite tin ceilings. The Lee family has been instrumental in providing artifacts, photographs, and even a rare kinescope of an early CBS television broadcast from 1956.

The Lee Family exhibit will run through April 13, 2014. For more information or to reserve tickets click here.

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General Society to Host Annual Leadership Awards Ceremony

Jennifer Yeboah : October 16, 2013 4:05 pm : Association News

The 100 Year awards a membership plaque to the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York, commemorating its election to full membership in the Hundred Year Association.

The General Society is celebrating its 228th year of service to the building and construction industry. Its annual Craftsmanship and Civic Leadership Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 14th. Recipient include Michael Della Rocca, Chief Executive of Americas at AECOM and Salvatore J. Cassano, FDNY Commissioner. Join the General Society at this year’s Leadership Awards. For more info:

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GMA Honoree Hotel Association of NY Host Big Apple Stars Awards

Jennifer Yeboah : October 16, 2013 10:37 am : Association News

Gold Medal Dinner Honoree will be hosting its annual Big Apple Stars Awards this coming November. The Big Apple Stars Awards is designed to recognize extraordinary performance among New York City hotel employees. HANY has more that 270 hotel members. For over 130 years the Hotel Association of New York has supported the hotel community of New York. Though is sustainable hospitality committee, which helps implement environmentally conscience initiatives throughout its member hotels and its webinars and networking events, which connects and keeps members abreast with industry trends. The Hundred Year Association who is honoring HANY and its President Joseph Spinnato at its 79th Gold Medal Dinner this year congratulate this year’s Big Apple Awards winners.

For RSVP to this year’s 79th Gold Medal Dinner click here.

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Public Service Award Winner Mike Cleary Featured in New York Post

Jennifer Yeboah : March 13, 2013 2:36 pm : Association News

Click here to view article on site.

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Member Luke Vander Linden Featured in the January Issue of Journal of the DMA Nonprofit Federation.

Jennifer Yeboah : January 30, 2013 4:25 pm : Association News

Luke Vander Linden, Vice President & Senior Marketing Director of Carl Bloom Associates, talks about donor behavior and the management of nonprofit organizations.

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To read the full article click on the in link below.



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Public Service Award Winners Talk About Facing Daily Challenges and HelpingTheir City.

Jennifer Yeboah : January 29, 2013 6:21 pm : Association News

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Article originally published in The Chief-Leader.

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Deputy Mayor Holloway and DCAS Commissioner Handy joined The Hundred Year Association of New York to honor 9 outstanding civil servants and 15 academically talented children of City employees who received $15,500 in cash awards and $30,500 in college scholarships from the Association’s members.

Jennifer Yeboah : January 9, 2013 11:50 pm : Association News

January 8, 2013

Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway and Commissioner Handy Join With The Hundred Year Association of New York to Honor 9 Outstanding Civil Servants

—Century-Old Private Firms Thank City Employees and Give College Scholarships—Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway and Department of Citywide Administrative ServicesCommissioner Edna Wells Handy today joined representatives of the Hundred YearAssociation of New York to honor 9 outstanding civil servants and 15 academically talented children of City employees, who received $15,500 in cash awards and $30,500 in college scholarships from the Association’s members.

Joining Commissioner Handy for the awards ceremony at Police Department headquarters were representatives of the Hundred Year Association and its 200 member organizations.

Deputy Mayor Holloway said, “The City’s talented and dedicated workforce serves more than 8.4 million New Yorkers every day,” said Deputy Mayor Holloway. “The 100 Year Association’s recognition of outstanding civil servants and scholarship support of their children will help to ensure that New York City’s workforce remains among the best in the world—now and in the future.”

“The civil servants we honor today bring prestige to the City by going beyond their job descriptions to give New Yorkers world-class service, every single day,” said Commissioner Handy. “We are proud to assist the Hundred Year Association in rewarding the achievements of our city workforce and the broad range of vital work that they perform.”

“On behalf of the Board of Governors and members of the Association we thank Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Wells Handy and her staff for their assistance in supporting and organizing this unique Public / Private Program, created to recognize and reward outstanding achievement in the workplace and in the classroom,” said Clinton W. Blume, III –President of The Hundred Year Association of New York.

The largest scholarship, in the amount of $6,000 sponsored by STV Group, went to Desiree Daring, a senior at Williams College and a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School. She is the daughter of Eleston Daring, who is a School Safety Engineer at the Department of Transportation.

Founded in 1927, the Hundred Year Association of New York celebrates the business, professional, educational, religious and charitable organizations of New York City that are at least one hundred years old. Since 1958, the Association has highlighted the close partnership between the City’s private sector and City government by recognizing outstanding career civil service employees. Named for the Association’s founder, the Isaac Liberman Public Service Awards are available to employees whose salaries do not exceed $81,000. Individual cash awards generally range from $1,000 to $6,000. The Association’s E. Virgil Conway College Scholar Awards Program was founded in 1971 to assistacademically qualified children of career civil service employees to obtain college educations. College Scholar Awards are granted to promising students whose gross family incomes do not exceed $110,000. The scholarships recognize excellence in scholastic achievement and community service. College scholarships range from $1,000 to $6,000.

A complete listing of this year’s 24 winners is available at the DCAS website.






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Association Member McRoberts Maritime Awarded Contract for Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

Jennifer Yeboah : December 19, 2012 1:02 pm : Association News

McRoberts Maritime Security was recently awarded the contact to write the Port Facility Security Assessment and Plan for the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong. This two-berth cruise terminal, which is currently under construction, is being brought to China by World Cruise Terminals, a consortium made up of partners Worldwide Flight Services, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Shun Tak Holdings Limited. Located in the heart of Hong Kong on Victoria Harbour, this cruise terminal will offer panoramic views of the famous Hong Kong skyline and is within miles of downtown. Nick Knittel, Senior V.P., and Mike Lee, V.P., will execute the consulting contract on behalf OF McRoberts Maritime Security. The Kai Tak Criuse Terminal is set to accept its first cruise ship , Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas in June 2013 and will be able to clear 3,00 passengers per hour.

Founding in 1876, the McRoberts Protective Agency, Inc., is a privately-held, full-service security provider with national scope.  A nationally certified WBE (Woman Business Enterprise), McRoberts is the oldest security agency in America and today provides comprehensive, customized and integrated security services, technology, consulting, investigations, and training. McRoberts Maritime Security is the operating division of McRoberts that leads the maritime security industry in the area of regulatory compliant, integrated security solutions for port facilities, cruise lines, cargo ships, and cargo terminals.  Today discerning clients in a number of different industries from coast to coast recognize the value that McRoberts can add to their security programs.

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