CAMPAIGNS: Wisden's PR introduces a style change - Product Revamp

Client: Wisden PR Team: Midas Public Relations Campaign: Launch of Cricketers' Almanack 2003 Timescale: February-April 2003 Budget: £20,000

Non-cricket lovers will have missed a minor revolution which has gripped the sport over the past few weeks.

In a move that will have caused consternation among its more traditional followers, the game's bible - Wisden Cricketers' Almanack - has retired its traditional cover after 65 years, and introduced the image of a modern player to promote the publication. So farewell two top-hatted gentlemen players - and welcome England international Michael Vaughan.

Objectives

To gain widespread publicity for the book and help sell as many copies as possible. To appeal to a younger audience, while retaining the existing loyal readership for a book in its 140th year. Despite the changes, traditional copies can still be ordered free of charge.

Strategy and Plan

Temporary editor Tim de Lisle proposed ditching the traditional Eric Ravilious woodcut cover, and replacing it with one of the book's five cricketers of the year - Yorkshire and England's Michael Vaughan. De Lisle - who is editor for just one year - also proposed more 'off diary'-type cricket stories.

Midas and Wisden sent out details of the new cover a week before the official launch, to attract coverage and comment in sports and news pages.

A second press pack followed seven days later, including information on who would be named as Wisden's five cricketers of the year, plus de Lisle's comments and criticism of the ICC over its World Cup stance on Zimbabwe. Some books were also sent to selected sports and literary editors.

De Lisle then appeared on a number of radio programmes, such as Radio 4's Today programme, to explain the change of cover, a day after the first press release. Interviews were also set up on regional radio, such as BBC London 94.9.

A week later, Sky Sports was given exclusive rights to cover the book's official launch party, and the following day saw de Lisle interviewed on BBC Breakfast.

Measurement and Evaluation

Prior to the official launch on 29 April, the changes received widespread coverage in the nationals, including the front page of The Guardian.

Following the embargoed launch, the Almanack was featured in national and regional press, including The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, The Times, and the Mirror.

Sky Sports News and BBC Radio Five Live also discussed the changes.

Results

It is too early to say whether the widespread publicity achieved for this year's Almanack will be reflected in increased sales, which normally hover around the 40,000 mark.

However, The Guardian sports writer Paul Weaver said: 'Wisden has always had the knack of attracting publicity - it's very adroit at it and this year was no exception.

'In addition, the campaign was very slick and (putting out the message before the launch) ensured they got lots of coverage, which must have been its main aim,' he added.

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