Campaign: Public Sector - Holocaust memorial engenders respect

Campaign: Holocaust Memorial Day

Client: The Home Office's Faith Communities Unit

PR team: Luther Pendragon

Timescale: August 2004-February 2005

Budget: Approximately £40,000

Media coverage of Holocaust Memorial Day had been in decline since its introduction in 2001. To combat this, the Home Office hired Luther Pendragon to raise awareness of this year's 27 January event. Objectives

To ensure widespread and appropriate coverage of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

To educate Britons about the Holocaust and promote messages about social inclusion, with an emphasis on the tabloids and specialist ethnic, gay and disability media.

To handle media interest in the national service at Westminster Hall and a private reception hosted by the Queen at St James's Palace.

Strategy and Plan

Following reports of the existence of 'Holocaust deniers' and a BBC poll showing that 45 per cent of Britons had not heard of Auschwitz, Luther Pendragon worked with the Home Office and other interested parties to create a database of survivors and liberators willing to tell their stories.

These volunteers were matched to relevant media outlets and encouraged to talk not only about the horrors of Nazi persecution, but also about their success in rebuilding their lives.

To flag up the memorial day, 12 senior home affairs journalists were selected last October for a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Other media outlets received advance details of planned events.

Because many survivors and liberators were attending commemorative events, it was essential to pre-record the majority of media interviews.

Other preparations included managing media messages in response to a boycott of the memorial day by some Muslim organisations, as well as liaising with the Metropolitan Police over a protest by traveller groups.

Activities also included running a press office at St James's Palace, liaison with the Queen's press secretary, and working with the MOD, the Foreign Office and the Polish government to co-ordinate international media-handling.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign generated more than 2,200 articles, including items on the front pages of The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the Daily Mail. Features and comment appeared in The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, the Daily Mirror and The Sun.

There were also 480 pieces of UK broadcast coverage, with Holocaust Memorial Day leading the news on all major channels. The campaign featured on BBC Radio 4's Today, as well as programmes such as Richard and Judy and websites totallyjewish.com and somethingjewish.com.

Results

More than 1.5 million people - 25 per cent higher than predicted by the BBC - watched the broadcast of the Westminster Hall service on BBC2.

Participation in the day was also up 25 per cent on previous years, while traffic to the Holocaust Memorial Day website increased from 4,376 hits last October to 66,456 in January.

Commenting on the press trip to Auschwitz, The Sunday Times assistant editor David Leppard tells PRWeek: 'Luther Pendragon was extremely professional and efficient. It was good at handling journalists on an individ-ual basis, on what was a heavy and intense trip.'

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