Haynes Publishing is well known as a producer of car service and repair manuals. But as modern cars need less attention from owners, the publisher has had to diversify. The success of its Man and Baby manuals led to the Sex manual, against a backdrop of Department of Health (DoH) statistics showing that one in nine people has had a sexually transmitted infection.
To generate publicity for the book within Haynes's traditional car enthusiast and automotive retailer audiences, as well as through untraditional channels.
To show that Haynes publishes more than car manuals. To protect Haynes's family business image.
Strategy and Plan
To avoid causing offence, the in-house PR team asked the DoH to endorse the book as a promotion of fun but responsible sex by linking it to the department's Sex Lottery campaign. The DoH provided free condoms for the press mailing and launch of Sex, which was timed to make the book available as a Valentine's Day gift.
National and regional print and broadcast media were targeted: men's interest and motoring titles, women's interest, medical and health magazines, news agencies, car club titles, pharmaceutical and chemist journals, the publishing and book trade and student publications.
Broadcast interviews with the book's author, Dr Ian Banks, were arranged for the week after its launch on 3 February.
A 'measuring tool' door handle hanger, which asked the question 'What size is your piston?' was included in press mailings. For Haynes's traditional audience, pushing the story involved explaining the book through press releases. The untraditional channels, particularly women's magazines, required more verbal cajoling to explain why Sex was important and a suitable gift for readers' partners.
Measurement and Evaluation
More than 120 cuttings were generated, with all the national broadsheet and tabloid newspapers covering it. The story also made it into The Times of India, Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Reuters carried the story, as did consumer and trade magazines, including Men's Health in Italy, More, Zoo, BMA News, Community Pharmacy and GP.
Broadcast coverage consisted of 33 interviews and mentions on national and regional TV and radio. CNN and NBC also gave the release of Sex attention. Around 90 per cent of the coverage was positive, according to the International Press Cuttings Bureau and Romeike.
The campaign resulted in more than 20,000 sales of the manual by the end of March. Its first print run of 10,000 copies sold out in around a week - the publisher's first print runs usually consists of only 4,500 copies.
About one third of the sales were sold through book club catalogues, a channel new to Haynes. Sex was ranked sixth in The Independent's hardback non-fiction bestsellers list on 20 February.
The Independent deputy political editor Colin Brown, who was The Sunday Telegraph political editor when Sex was released, says: 'The PR people did me proud. They supplied the background, how many copies were being sent out and the artwork. Without the artwork, it wouldn't have been a story.'