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I read that the peace symbol turns 50 this year and was a bit taken aback by the news (it didn’t look a day over 40 to me).

Actually, I always thought the icon was a U.S. anti-Vietnam war invention and was surprised to find out it was created in 1958 by Gerald Holtorn, a British textile designer. He developed it for an anti-nuclear rally in the U.K. and based it on a stylized version of the semaphore letters for ‘N’ and ‘D’ – representing nuclear disarmament.

I did a search and noticed a lot has been written on the anniversary recently. The items started in February but most of the coverage (MSM and social) happened in the last week or so. A little more digging revealed the widespread interest is the result of a PR effort for a new National Geogaphic book entitled, Peace: The Biography of a Symbol by Ken Kolsbun and Michael Sweeny.

Having done book publicity in the past, I have to admire how the PR folks took the publisher’s story (‘new book on peace symbol’) and made it bigger and more relevant by tying it to an iconic anniversary. In the process they did what I always tried to do: get the coverage off the book pages.

They successfully generated much wider awareness for and interest in the title. Hopefully, this will translate into sales.

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman conducts social media and online crisis training workshops, is a digital and communications strategist and speaks at events across North America. He's the co-founder of three PR agencies, president of a consultancy and has worked in the industry for over 25 years. Martin is a Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning Author, teaches digital strategy and social media, and is past-chair of PRSA Counselors Academy.

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