Since 2013 we have managed media relations for Holocaust Memorial Day, when thousands of people come together to remember the millions killed in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
The commemorations were particularly high-profile in 2015, which marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The national ceremony was attended by members of the Royal Family and political and religious leaders. Our job, working with Clarence House, Number 10 and the BBC, which televised the event, was to generate coverage appropriate to the occasion and respectful of survivors, and to coordinate a busy media facility on the day. Radio 5 Live broadcast their afternoon show from the venue while a host of national journalists reported from inside the ceremony.
Each year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust develops an arts initiative. We set up an exclusive interview with Sir Anish Kapoor who created candles to be lit at 70 locations around the country and arranged for a survivor to light one on Newsnight and on Channel 4. A series of original artworks was also created by artists and writers, including Stephen Fry, inspired by meetings with survivors.
When research we commissioned for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 showed that one in four people in the UK had witnessed at least one hate crime in the last year, we put the modern relevance of the day centre stage. The story set the day’s news agenda with pieces on Radio 4’s Today, Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast and Sky’s Sunrise.
In 2017 we followed this with research among survivors and their families living in the UK, investigating their experiences of hatred and abuse. The story ran on BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain, Victoria Derbyshire, Sky News and Radio 5 Live, as well as in print and online media. Martin Bashir, the BBC’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, reported live from the commemorative event for BBC News.
We have generated extensive coverage, increasing the profile of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust year on year. For the 70th anniversary commemorations there were over 1,000 pieces of coverage for the Trust and 50 broadcast mentions. In 2016, there were 650 pieces. This year saw another increase with 711 pieces of coverage of the Trust including 260 broadcast mentions. We are currently working on an expanded brief for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, combining traditional and social media.