Publicity in a time of unpredictability by Jason Bartholomew

If there is any truism across all industries, and life in general, it is that change is a constant. For businesses of any size, whether the change comes in the form of an employee leaving your company, to a client who cancels a contract, or to a switch in your customer’s overall buying habits; the successful businesses who stay nimble and adapt are the ones that flourish.

What Covid has initially thrown up for everyone is an unprecedented amount of unpredictability. None of us, the government included, can foresee what is next for the pandemic itself. Whether the curve of cases will flatten, increase, or be delayed for months to come is not entirely predictable. This, in turn, causes businesses and global markets to panic. As consumers stop spending money, businesses then cease investing to protect their bottom lines. As investing and spending comes to a halt – on a simultaneous and global level, mind you – this will inevitably lead to unemployment. Of course, job losses on a mass scale coupled with businesses of all sizes facing insolvency will only fuel more panic.

An economist recently estimated that consumer spending makes up 70% of the global economy. However, if bookstores, museums, restaurants, theatres, retailers, airlines, and even international borders are all closed for business – and as the world holds its breath for a more positive narrative to adapt – what are consumers and businesses to do?

I am not sure anyone yet has the answer to that question, but Midas has done everything it can to pivot quickly to embrace this change. We have been exploring and discussing ideas internally and working alongside our phenomenal client base to find creative new routes to market.

I want to share a few of these here – to show what has been developing as the green shoots of a new, if temporary, market narrative:

Last month Midas worked with Headline Publishing Group and bestseller Maggie O’Farrell to reschedule dozens of the author’s scheduled live events to the virtual space

  • With a March 31st pub date, Hamnet was publishing smack in the middle of the Covid pandemic.
  • After months of planning, Midas, the author, and publisher all moved rapidly to find virtual ways to promote Maggie’s book.
  • The results have been phenomenal.

Midas also worked with the Bookseller’s Association to launch a fast-response digital campaign to support independent bookstores

  • Midas is a big supporter – as is the industry as a whole – of finding ways of protecting and supporting our independent bookstores
  • Our client Bookseller’s Association was in an incredibly strong position to run this campaign, and the BA and Midas moved fast to offer as much support as possible.
  • You can read more about how the BA used social media to promote the hundreds, if not thousands, of bookshops around the UK and Ireland offering online shopping and home delivery for those in isolation, here.

Lastly, Midas worked with The Arts Society to launch The Arts Society Connected on April 7th

  • This phenomenal idea allows 90k members, and the general public, to attend fortnightly lectures by the UK’s leading art historians, as well as film screenings, live author Q&As and a community forum for anyone using the platform.
  • On the back of this launch, The Arts Society made national news on The Today Programme and in The Guardian

These are a few samples of the ways we at Midas – alongside our clients – are trying to embrace the change facing us all. To counteract the drumbeat of grim Covid-related news, alongside those above examples, business and markets are finding endlessly creative ways to adapt. Personally, I am feeling more robust as the weeks go on. Humans have proven time and again that they can overcome the bleakest of imaginable scenarios and carry on.

From virtual book launches, to independent book store, to a surge in audio books, to bestselling authors shouting out about other authors books, to crowdfunding support for museums, to digital book clubs with tens of thousands joining, to the dozens of other creative ideas in the creative industries, it is incredibly heartening to see how much positivity can result from a bleak moment for society.

With a quick-thinking and nimble approach, and by pooling creative resources to work together, I feel strongly that a lot of businesses – and industries – will find themselves in a better position than they were pre-Covid.

Whatever the outcome will be in the post-Covid world, I truly hope society continues to harness so much of the goodwill and kindness that has been embraced by so many.

Jason Bartholomew is joint CEO of Midas PR. Originally from America, Jason spent ten years working in New York publishing primarily for Hachette Book Group USA. He moved to Hachette UK in 2008 where he was the Rights Director across Hodder & Stoughton, Headline Publishing Group, Quercus Books, and John Murray Press, where he managed and sold rights for some of the biggest titles of the past decade.  In addition to the Rights Director role of ten years, in 2015, he also became the Publishing Director of Quercus US in New York. Jason completed a Masters in Business Administration at Imperial College in 2017.