Like the shoemaker whose children go barefoot, we’ve been too busy chronicling other companies to write our own history. Someday! Until then, we’re delighted to share this insightful profile of CorporateHistory.net by journalist Kelly Parr of Autumn Years magazine. The article inspired a bit of self-reflection. Following are lessons learned during CorporateHistory.net’s 15 years, in cooperation with clients we’ve been privileged to serve: family-owned firms, nonprofits, foundations, and businesses from small cap to Fortune 500s. We’ll post eight items this month with another seven to come in August.
- Commissioned artwork can save the day. That’s how our history of The American Club acquired such great chapter openers and section breaks. Photo research in historical archives helped, too.
- Employee voices make the difference. American Water CEO Susan Story asked for a book that was “truly a story of our people … and the purpose we all share.” We delivered, thanks to the cooperation and team spirit of AmWater employees.
- Don’t be afraid to get emotional. BAYADA Home Health Care employees put heart and soul into their work, and we strove to do the same for their 40th anniversary chronicle.
- If these walls could speak …. Walls do speak. In-person research helped us find artwork like the paintings by clients that appear in Clinton County ARC, the history of an agency that helps people with disabilities.
- Follow the DNA. The Clorox Company has been green since 1913, even though they didn’t call environmental awareness “green” back then (instead, the phrase was “healthier homes”). Core themes and memes exist in every organization’s history—we work with clients to identify and highlight them.
- Let the structure arise from the material. Often it makes sense to write a history chronologically. But for Dempsey Uniform and Linen Supply, it worked better to structure the book as The Head (Dempsey’s Thoughts on Business), The Body (Plants and Technology), and The Heart (People and Culture). We put a detailed, illustrated timeline up front for reference.
- Go beyond print. Our history of The Libman Company includes a USB memory card with an e-book plus audio interviews with the founding family and longtime employees. Anniversary campaigns for the Jackson Walker law firm and NACHA/The Electronic Payments Association featured videos, web timelines, and conference trivia walls.