In a 20-year career in advertising and public relations, Rich Polt ’94 became adept at telling other people’s stories. But it wasn’t until he walked away from the field that he found the most meaningful stories to tell.
“There is a moment with almost every one of my clients when I share the work that we’ve done, and their eyes well with tears,” Polt says. “They’ve opened up to me, sharing meaningful stories, and now they’re seeing it reflected back on screen.”
Acknowledge Media, the company Polt launched in Baltimore in 2016, produces legacy films that tell the life stories of individuals and couples. His most frequent clients are families, though Polt notes that his work also has value for institutions like schools, churches and family businesses. “It’s about legacy preservation,” he says.
Polt says he knows that value firsthand. When he was an economics major at Bucknell, his parents videotaped an interview with his grandfather, who emigrated to the U.S. from Poland.
“It’s not a happy story — he had many hardships throughout his life — but he shared it,” Polt says. “When I think about where I come from, it’s very much associated with my grandfather’s story and what he was able to overcome.”
Polt named his oldest son, Sam, after that grandfather, and says he now recognizes the foresight of his parents. “I’ve been able to show my son his namesake, that this is where he comes from. Having that gift is very important and meaningful for my family.”
His challenge now, Polt says, is convincing others about how valuable a legacy film can be. “Often, people tell me they wish they had done this with their own parents or grandparents, but don’t see the need to capture their own stories for future generations. But now that people are seeing how moving these videos are, they’re talking to their friends, and they’re realizing this is a great idea.”