Midas gets highly commended at PRCA National Awards 2020

Midas is delighted to get highly commended at the PRCA National Awards 2020 for the World Book Night campaign, in the Digital and New Media Award category.

The brilliantly bold campaign overcame limitations of lockdown and brought the nation together to celebrate books and reading.

Here’s how…


World Book Night (WBN) is the annual celebration of books and reading taking place on 23 April, organised by The Reading Agency (TRA). Events up and down the country run by individuals and organisations celebrate the difference that reading makes to people’s lives, with a focus on non-readers and lapsed readers. On the day, 50,000 books from the WBN booklist are given away to charities, prisons, care homes, youth centres and more.


On 23 March, four weeks before WBN, the UK went into lockdown due to COVID-19. Midas responded quickly to adapt the focus of the campaign to a virtual celebration of books and reading, to go beyond the WBN 2020 booklist and exploit the potential of digital and new media to transcend the limitations imposed by lockdown.


How do you appeal to a nation who are overwhelmed with a negative news agenda and coping with the new, unprecedented stress and life events associated with the pandemic and isolation? Who are experiencing loneliness for the first time?

‘READING HOUR’ AND TALENT ENGAGEMENT: Midas worked with TRA to create the ‘Reading Hour’ campaign, to bring the nation together in lockdown safely (and virtually) to celebrate the power of reading and feeling connected in a reading community. The Reading Hour took place between 7-8pm on WBN, where the nation was encouraged to read with others, enjoy a chapter by themselves or talk about books using the hashtag #ReadingHour online.

Midas created a playful social campaign as part of the Reading Hour, targeted for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, whereby talent and the public were asked to answer questions (video or written) about their Reading Hour plans including ‘What will you be reading?’, ‘Where do you like to read?’, ‘How do you avoid distractions when reading?’.

In order to appeal to a wider audience, in particular people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves big readers, the talent asked to be involved went beyond the WBN 2020 booklist. This included former WBN authors, bestselling authors, actors, singers, poets and celebrities. Midas secured big names such as David Nicholls, Maggie O’Farrell, Simon Callow, Bernardine Evaristo, Matt Haig, Adam Kay, Maggie O’Farrell, Patrick Gale, Anthony Horowitz, Kit de Waal, Robert Webb, David Nicholls, Kate Mosse, Victoria Hislop, Lloyd Grossman, and more, with the videos getting up to 3.1k views each.

READING SURVEY: To stand out from the congested Covid-dominated social platforms and news outlets, Midas quickly created a news-worthy survey about lockdown reading habits to provide engaging, positive social content and media hooks. The survey revealed the nation was reading more during lockdown, with a spike in young people. The news lead the BBC Arts & Entertainment News webpage all day, in addition to running on The Guardian, The Times, Press Association (syndicated to +150 outlets), i newspaper (in print), Sky News website, The Bookseller and more.  The outlets shared the news story on social media platforms and helped build momentum online.

PARTNERSHIPS: Midas sought high profile media partnerships to build widespread awareness of the campaign. Midas and TRA secured a partnership with the BBC, resulting in WBN being part of their “Culture in Quarantine” programme. BBC Website ran a special WBN live page, which got 30k views when it was online 4-8pm. Midas secured interviews with Margaret Atwood, Matt Haig, Adam Kay, and Bernardine Evaristo with BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz which were placed on BBC4 Today Programme, BBC4 Woman’s Hour and BBC5 Live Emma Barnett Show, while the news of WBN ran online in the news bulletins of Radio 2, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and Radio 6 Music, as well as hundreds of BBC regional outlets. Actress Sharon D Clark was on BBC4 Front Row, actor Ralph Fiennes on 40 radio channels for Drive Time, and Owen Teale on BBC Arts Facebook page (13k views).

Midas set-up a partnership with Scala Radio, to tap into their listeners, and organised content (readings) from stars including Jason Isaacs, Michael Morpurgo, Jay Rayner and Clare Mackintosh. Scala created a dedicated WBN page on their website featuring the talent video readings, as well as broadcasting the readings on the radio throughout the day and posting them on their social channels.

Midas also secured a partnership with The London Book Fair, to ensure the book trade and traditional readers were also engaged. This entailed a special-edition virtual book club featuring award-winning, black-owned publisher Jacaranda’s debut #Twentyin2020 author, Shola von Reinhold.  LBF hosted a live Twitter Q&A, and posted a book review on its website and social channels.

VIRTUAL EVENTS: Libraries, bookshops, youth centres were forced to close. Staff furloughed. Care homes and prisons in lockdown. The usual WBN physical events and book giveaways were unsafe and impossible. Therefore organisations were encouraged to participate virtually where possible, to create an online community for all different types of audiences. TRA prepared toolkits. Results included Scottish LGBT+ mental health and wellbeing charity See Me Proud held a ‘Big Queer Book Quiz’ on Facebook; The Hospital Club opened its virtual doors for a Zoom party; Kingston Libraries encouraged residents to recreate book covers using household items; BCP Libraries curated a short story write-a-thon; Damian Barr’s Literary Salon did a live reading on Facebook and Instagram


Midas came up with creative solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic and limitations of lockdown, turning potential obstacles (impossibility of physical events, people forced to stay at home, COVID-dominated news agenda) into advantages, coming up with brand new campaign strands and ideas to achieve the overall objectives (prominent use of digital media, the “Reading  Hour”, virtual events, key partnerships, news-worthy survey, celebrity engagement).

The campaign achieved national reach, bringing thousands of people across the nation together virtually to celebrate WBN in lockdown – promoting the 2020 booklist and beyond. Results included a social reach of over 14 million (the main tweet had a potential reach of 1.7million, with 432 retweets), 2,928 new followers on WBN Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. There was a 356% increase in website users on WBN 23 April 2020 (compared to 2019). On Twitter, #ReadingHour got 26.6 million potential impressions and trended in the UK at #4 on WBN. Over 300 pieces of coverage and over 122 broadcast mentions in total.

On top of the high-profile name, partnerships and WBN 2020 authors mentioned getting involved, support on social flooded in resulting in #WorldBookNight, #WorldBookNight2020 and #ReadingHour getting combined mentions of 13,159 on WBN. People/organisations with all kinds of different audiences supported included pop bands Bastille and Maximo Park, British Library, Southbank Centre, Hay Festival, Wizarding World, Jeffrey Archer, Noughticulture and more.