Evening Standard gets London reading

The London Evening Standard launched Get London Reading, its literacy campaign, in June.

Evening Standard reading campaign
Evening Standard reading campaign

So far, almost 4,000 people have volunteered for reading schemes in schools, more than £166,000 has been raised and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has also got involved by visiting a primary school in west London.

The campaign has also given PR professionals opportunities to become involved with the paper in a different way, and has helped to raise the profile of the newspaper itself.

Editor Geordie Greig says the paper was inspired to launch the campaign after being shocked by some of the statistics on literacy in the capital, including that one in three children does not own a book and one million working adults cannot read.

It is not the first the time the paper has launched an editorial drive. It recently ran The Dispossessed Fund, to tackle poverty in the capital.

Alison Clarke, CEO at Grayling, says these type of campaigns have given the paper a new lease of life. 'It's fascinating to see how the editorial policy of the Standard has changed during the past couple of years - from a daily newspaper to a campaigning instrument that appears to be galvanising businesses and Londoners alike to achieve real social change,' she says. 'The literacy campaign has been brilliant at lifting the lid on what I believe is one of the last taboos - adult illiteracy.'

Greig says these campaigns create stronger relationships with readers and staff. 'Campaigns unite the staff on the paper who feel they are making a real difference to the city they live in, and unite the readers, as we all tackle important issues together,' he says.

They also attract the support of local businesses. Laura Passam, corporate PR spokesman for retail outlet Westfield, which donated £10,000, says: 'The London Evening Standard has been highly successful with previous campaigns, which we supported, and its ability to identify key issues affecting Londoners and bring them to the fore is a key driver for attracting such widespread backing from across the London business community.'

For PR professionals, campaigns can give another route into a media brand. Bookstore Waterstone's got involved with the Get London Reading push shortly after its launch. Staff volunteered for reading schemes, while London book stores promoted the campaign and donated profits from children's book sales on one day.

Fiona Allen, head of PR for Waterstone's, says: 'We could have just given money, but for us it was more about everybody in the business feeling involved with it, and engaging our customers and making them feel they could make an actual difference.'

The ongoing Get London Reading campaign took nine months to plan, but Greig says PROs can still get involved: 'We are always looking for support from high-profile companies and personalities.'

Evening Standard front page



Circulation: 701,743 (ABC, June 2011)

Frequency: Daily, weekdays


Editor: Geordie Greig geordie.greig@standard.co.uk

Executive features editor: Charlotte Ross 020 7938 7666 features@standard.co.uk

News editor: Amy Iggulden 020 7938 7553 news@standard.co.uk



Geordie Greig

What makes the newspaper different from its rivals?

The London Evening Standard is now the second largest quality paper in Britain, after the Daily Mail. Our circulation is seven times that of the FT, three times that of The Guardian, double that of The Times and about 150,000 more than The Daily Telegraph. We are, since we went free, like an indie movie but with blockbuster appeal. We used to sell 700 copies a night at Oxford Circus tube station. Now we distribute 32,000 copies.

Who are your readers?

Our readers are working Londoners who pick up the paper as they return home from work. They are earners of every category. Readers range from the Prime Minister David Cameron to the office cleaner ending a shift during the afternoon.

What are you looking for from PROs?

We are always open to suggestions for good stories and the opportunities could not be greater.

How should PR professionals get in touch, and to whom should they speak?

PROs should contact the appropriate reporters, the news desk or features desk.

What are the deadlines?

Our pages are sent to the printers at noon for our first edition, but we welcome news early.

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