Making the headlines: Cheltenham Literature Festival

Tens of thousands of book-lovers of all ages, including over 7,000 schoolchildren, head to Cheltenham in October for the UK’s oldest literature festival, to enjoy ten days of literary celebration, discussion and debate. With over 1,000 speakers and 550 events at the Festival Village, the diverse programme covers fiction, literature, poetry alongside history, current affairs, art, sport, food, fashion, lifestyle, psychology, science and business, as well as a packed family programme with events for toddlers to teens.

Midas PR was appointed by Cheltenham Festivals to run a PR campaign which increased box office sales on the previous year; delivered national and international coverage reaching a wide ranging audience, and exceeded 2016 coverage; maintained the festival’s profile as one of the leading literature festivals in the UK; increased the CLF social media profile; and positioned the Festival as a family attraction, showcasing the three new family activity zones.

In order to secure meaningful pre-Festival coverage, we developed targeted, distinct strategies for each of the programme strands – from literature, politics and travel, to food, science and sport, as well as for the family/parenting press and lifestyle media – pitching previews, listings and interviews to ensure that each element of the line-up was showcased. We invited arts, ents, showbiz correspondents, news wires and diarists to attend the Festival, which generated a huge amount of news coverage from the events. For social media, we encouraged talent and engagement with a focus on tweeting around the on sale date.

Over the course of 10 weeks, Midas secured more than 435 pieces of coverage from over 204 different outlets across print (121 in national newspapers, 23 in magazines) broadcast (16 pieces), and online (over 280 pieces). The total circulation for the PR campaign was 127 million, with an AVE of £6.9million. Midas doubled the number of pieces of coverage for the festival by 93% from the previous year and also increased Cheltenham Literature Festival’s social media following by 50% from the previous year. The campaign resulted in Cheltenham Literary Festival smashing their box office targets and selling 134,000 tickets, as well as increasing family visitors and school visitors to the festival by 20%.

Midas PR’s segmented media approach delivered a wide range of news stories, interviews, features, listings, previews, diary stories and reviews, spanning national newspapers, consumer magazines, online outlets and specialist press. We generated over 290 pieces of coverage from on site, with 28 national journalists (including Telegraph, Mail, Express, Mirror, Smallish, Red) attending the Festival with syndicated coverage from Press Association, Associated Press, Reuters.

Photo credit: Spencer McPherson, Cheltenham Literature Festival 2017

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