Client: The Children's Project
PR Team: RJH Public Relations
Campaign: Launch of book The Social Baby
Timescale: May-July 2000
Publishing company The Children's Project was set up by Clive and Helen Dorman after the emotional difficulties they experienced following the birth of their daughter Hannah. Their aim was to bring out a series of books and teaching aids providing support for parents.
The company's first book, The Social Baby, by childcare experts Professor Lynne Murray and Liz Andrews, is a guide to the signs and messages that newly-born babies try to give to their parents and surroundings.
In a market-place crowded with books on childcare, the first-time publishers faced a major challenge to get the necessary publicity and to get booksellers to stock it.
The campaign had to convince the trade and potential buyers that the book was sufficiently different to be of interest. In this respect, the main selling point was that, though it was written by academics, rather than being cloaked in jargon it was easy for parents to understand. Strong visuals were another selling point, with hundreds of colour pictures illustrating the way babies communicate.
To gain exposure for The Social Baby centring around the launch on 10 July, and ultimately to sell as many copies of the book as possible.
Strategy and Plan
RJH was given a brief to gain news-related coverage of the book and decided to focus the campaign on the topical issue of maternity leave, where provision in the UK is generally recognised as lagging far behind the rest of Western Europe.
One of the key messages in the book is that an early return to work by mothers can harm their relationship with their child, causing post-natal depression and leading to adverse long-term effects on the child.
The launch of the book was a relatively low-key affair, lacking the glitz often witnessed at such occasions. It was held at the House of Lords and attended by the authors, MP and minister for women's issues Harriet Harman and TV psychologist Dr Raj Persaud.
The rules of the House of Lords meant that film crews were not allowed in, but interviews could be held at the nearby Millbank media centre.
The BBC Lunchtime News called at 9am on the day of the launch requesting a live interview with Professor Murray which was duly conducted at Millbank, together with interviews with various BBC radio stations from around the country.
Print journalists who attended the launch were able to conduct interviews in an ante-room down the corridor at the House of Lords.
Measurement and Evaluation
Sales of the book indicate that the campaign has been a real success.
In the first week 1,100 copies sold and by the end of July the figure had risen to just under 2,000. The title shot into Amazon's top 10 non-fiction list within a fortnight of the launch.
In addition to BBC news coverage, broadcast coverage has included Breakfast with Frost, This Morning, Open House with Gloria Hunniford, Canadian station CPD, and LBC.
Feature articles have appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, Observer, Guardian, Daily Mail, and Mirror.
Much of the broadcast coverage focused on the issues of childcare and maternity leave, while print coverage looked in more depth at the book and Professor Murray's unusual views on how babies communicate.
Initial reluctance from retailers to stock The Social Baby has been overcome.
Waterstone's for example now stocks the book, and sales have been reported as healthy. Media coverage in the UK has led to a book distributor in Holland asking for exclusive rights.