Midas PR’s Wellcome Book Prize campaign drives submissions increase
The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books engaged with any aspect of medicine, health or illness and aims to stimulate interest in these topics through books and reading. Awarding £30,000 to the winner, the prize crosses genres with fiction and non-fiction eligible, covering biography, memoir and current affairs to crime, historical fiction, science fiction and more. Artist and writer Edmund de Waal OBE chaired the 2018 judges, who selected Mark O’Connell’s acclaimed debut about transhumanism, To Be a Machine, as the winning book.
For 2018 Midas was retained for a second year to provide strategic consultation, media coverage, event curation and management, social media implementation and to oversee submissions. Through all strands of our activity, our objective was to raise the profile of the prize and core aims, such as establishing medicine, health and illness as a distinct literary genre. Our PR goals were to deliver quality, in-depth features, interviews and news stories in the prize’s core press as well as a wider consumer audience. New for 2018, we were asked to both develop a long term strategy for growth and engagement on social media, and to manage all day to day output from the prize Twitter account.
In addition to timely and effective news coverage around the key milestones – longlist (Jan), shortlist (March), winner (April) – we used our strong relationships with publishers and publicists to secure author interview availabiltiy, with a particular focus on broadcast, to drive momentum throughout the duration of the prize. We complemented this PR activity with a creative social media plan that developed a more accesible, informal voice for the prize, as well as engagement with literary, cultural and science b/vloggers. Alongside traditional and social media, we curated an events programme targeting both loyal prize supporters and a younger demographic.
Midas secured more than 300 pieces of coverage across broadcast (17 interviews), national newspapers (48 pieces) as well as digital, podcasts, regional, international, wires and social media influencers. A spectrum of news, features and interviews ran at both the press announcements and throughout the campaign in a wide range of media outlets, targeting the core prize audience (BBC Radio 4: Today & Front Row, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, Guardian Review, FT, Telegraph, Evening Standard, BBC Arts, New Scientist, The BMJ, The Week, Science Focus) as well opening up the prize to a new demographic (BBC Radio 2, Metro, The Pool, Grazia, Good Housekeeping, Country Life, Press Association, Savidge Reads). We also secured a stellar journalist attendee list for the winner ceremony, including Mail on Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 4, 5, World Service, The Economist, Telegraph and Guardian.
The number of submissions saw a year on year increase of 20%. At each key moment, #WBP2018 trended on Twitter and across the campaign @WellcomeBkPrize gained an additional 2,000 Twitter followers, with many comments reflecting our messaging about the unique positioning of the prize: ‘I love seeing fiction and non-fiction side by side’.