For the past two years, Sandy Hillman Communications has been honored to be the national PR agency of record for The National World War I Museum and Memorial, America’s official WWI Museum as designated by Congress. We were hired to help promote the Centennial of America’s entry into WWI (2017) and the eventual Armistice peace agreement in 2018. Our priority was to establish the Museum as an expert resource on all things WWI, and to broaden awareness of the importance of remembering the important history of “The Great War.” Our efforts have resulted in the Museum being recognized by influential media far and wide. The Museum was included or featured in more than 200 articles and reached more than 314.8 million people as a result of its Armistice commemoration ceremony. Influential media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, TIME and Reuters helped raise awareness of the enduring impact of the great war, and major network shows such as NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News and FoxNews broadcasted from the Museum’s grounds! Since we had such great success, we thought we’d share how we did it.
Besides the fact that the war is a profound historical event that resulted in 9 million solider casualties, we had to figure out how to make the public understand that an event from 100 years ago is still relevant today. SHC used a few different tactics to achieve this. One was to identify compelling inventions and innovations that were developed during WWI, such as in food and science, that are still part of our daily lives. We created story ideas, gathered assets such as historical photographs and expert commentary, and pitched writers who cover these topics. As a result, Popular Mechanics informed their readers of the various weapons that came from WWI, while Reader’s Digest discussed everyday items that were actually designed for the war. We also took advantage of both static and travelling special exhibits to pique media interest. In the months leading up to the Armistice, Fieldsof Battle toured the world to introduce WWI to the public by showcasing Michael St. Maur Sheil’s stunning contemporary photography of battlefields of the Western Front. SHC pitched local writers in cities the tour was visiting, which resulted in feature stories in both the Chicago Tribune and Forbes.
Earlier this year, the Museum was invited to arrange a panel for a Headliners Newsmaker at the National Press Club in DC. The panel consisted of The National WWI Museum’s President and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor, a best-selling author, and other distinguished individuals. Many journalists attended the panel to discuss the lasting impressions of the war and similarities between WWI and today. The Museum held several other events to commemorate the Armistice, including a spectacular 55-million-pixel light display which projected the image of more than 5,000 poppies on the Liberty Memorial and a multi-national ceremony attended by VIPs from around the world. Almost 2,000 people attended the Museum’s ceremony and listened to the words of Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill 100 years later.
It’s an honor for us to be involved in such an iconic moment in American history, and we are thrilled to have been able to secure the attention of major national media and the public.