Johnson & Johnson : Employing the company history

The US healthcare and consumer goods giant publishes profiles of past employees to draw readers in. 

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The feature

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has a new regular feature in its ‘Heritage’ section of its corporate website called ‘Employee Blast from the Past’. The most recent profile, and third in the series, was from February 22nd, ‘Meet Dr. Paul Janssen: A Legend in Pharmacology’, about the founder of Janssen pharmaceuticals, which merged with J&J in 1962.

The series kicked off in December 2016 with a profile of the company’s first scientific director, ‘Meet Fred Kilmer: One of Johnson & Johnson’s Earliest Pioneers’. The second instalment was in January – ‘Meet Aldrage B. Cooper: A Trailblazing African American Leader at Johnson & Johnson’ (a vice president of corporate affairs).

The profiles are presented as a category of ‘story’ that are promoted on the home page (other categories include ‘Caring and Giving’, ‘Personal Stories’ and ‘Innovation’). They have author bylines and dates, and promoted on the company Facebook page.

The takeaway

Company histories often have material about their founders, but it is unusual to write about other employees. Stories need a good central character, so it makes sense to widen the pool.

The stories are also brief, well-written and relevant to J&J’s corporate messages about innovation and concern for the wider community.

J&J is probably unusual in having enough archive material on past employees on which to draw; they also employ a full-time company historian who also runs a J&J history blog, Most companies do not have the budget for a company historian, but if you are doing ‘stories’ and searching for relevant material, delving into the past from time to time could be an answer.
First published 01 March, 2017
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