Waterstones Children’s Laureate Launch with Cressida Cowell

An industry recognised PR campaign that broke through a politically busy news agenda to secure blanket, positive coverage for the appointment of Cressida Cowell

Midas was hired by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, to announce the appointment of best-selling author and illustrator Cressida Cowell as the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2019 – 2021).


 What they wanted us to do

Midas was briefed to communicate the rallying cry of Cressida Cowell through a high-profile publicity campaign encompassing top tier targets across broadcast, print, digital and social media. Our two overarching objectives were to celebrate the national significance of this appointment via carefully controlled messaging and extend beyond the book world and reach a non-traditional reading audience. The activity needed to engage consumer, trade and stakeholders with the message that Cressida was THE leading spokesperson on children’ literacy with huge ambitions for her tenure. We were tasked with reaffirming the position of the Laureate as a national figure of importance, demonstrating how children’s lives can be transformed through a love of reading, and – as this was a complex, multi-stakeholder campaign – our work needed to recognise BookTrust’s vital role and acknowledge Waterstones’ support.


How we did it

We began with comprehensive preparation, working closely with BookTrust and Hachette alongside Waterstones and the Laureate steering committee stakeholders to draw out messages from the Reading Charter as well as organising media training and developing robust, pre-emptive crisis communications. Being mindful of the embargo, for our media approach we developed a menu of hooks to engage different demographics – from Radio 4 to LBC, The Guardian to The Sun – and particularly to persuade the media gatekeepers of a non-traditional audience this was relevant news. We focused on broadcast ensuring we had major TV and Radio ready to run as soon as the news was announced, alongside blanket news across national newspapers, education press, parenting and children’s outlets. We amplified The Globe event through social media, driving traffic to the Reading Charter online. Alongside securing a broad reach, positive sentiment was vital – we ensured the campaign felt celebratory with careful media and journalist placement as well as clear briefings ahead of each interview which also meant we could control information release, holding back additional angles and media outlets for the future.


What we achieved for the client

We generated over 700 pieces of coverage that dominated a politically busy media agenda with a series of carefully messaged interviews and blanket news coverage. This included 5 national TV interviews (BBC News, ITV News, Sky News, BBC World, CBBC Newsround), 18 national radio – including BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 5, 6, World Service and 3 outings on Radio 4 (Front Row, Today ‘Thought of the Day’, Woman’s Hour Guest Takeover) – and multiple interviews across national newspapers (Guardian, Telegraph, Sun) education (TES), digital (BBC News Online, Stylist), children’s (Blue Peter, First News, Week Junior) as well as regionals syndicated via Press Association. The campaign had international impact with Cressida writing for New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe, all for the first time.

Alongside the raft of coverage, we secured an important legacy of trade and media support as well as consumer interest, with Cressida clearly established as the leading voice on children’s books with daily national requests continuing from the likes of Radio 4: Today and Five Live. Crucially, we also ensured that Cressida herself felt supported and confident throughout a complex and high-profile media campaign.


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