penguin random house uk

Beyond the Book: Captivating Existing Audiences and Capturing New Readers at Penguin Random House UK

Penguin Random House UK pushes the boundaries beyond the book and uses technology to give audiences a personalized experience with campaigns like Ask Penguin and the Pride Book Club.


Getting Personal

Through our Penguin Books UK channels, we are engaging with readers in a completely new way by focusing on personalization. Ask Penguin, our biweekly personal book recommendations, allows us to have direct conversations with our readers on Facebook and Twitter. Using #AskPenguin, our followers receive completely bespoke recommendations based on their mood, a theme they’re interested in, or other books they have enjoyed. [caption id="attachment_8413" align="alignright" width="295"] William Sieghart, founder of National Poetry Day and author of The Poetry Pharmacy, recommends poems to Twitter users based on their mood[/caption] For example, to mark National Poetry Day in September, William Sieghart, founder of the annual celebration of poetry and author of The Poetry Pharmacy, recommended poems to suit the mood of requesters, which ranged from tiredness to triumph. We are also experimenting with Twitter threads, creating themed reading lists and stories. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017, for example, we used this feature to showcase a number of inspirational women who appear in our bestselling title The Female Lead - Women Who Shape Our World by Edwina Dunn, with original photography by Brigitte Lacombe.  [caption id="attachment_8410" align="alignnone" width="600"] Caption: Our colleagues behind Ask Penguin, Savannah McGowan, Claire Davis, Zainab Juma and Indira Birnie, are brought to life for social media users[/caption]

Penguin Platform

Our young adult community aimed at 16 to 19 year olds, Penguin Platform, is growing rapidly, as we drive discussion on issues this audience cares about through our online book clubs and targeted content. We recently ran a Pride Book Club, collaborating with well-known YouTubers and influencers, to encourage this digitally engaged audience to join a virtual book club and have conversations with us and our network of book bloggers. The online book club proved so popular with our young adult community that we launched a Black History Month edition in October featuring Yrsa Daley-Ward, Zadie Smith, Kayo Chingonyi, George the Poet, and many more inspirational authors. [caption id="attachment_8416" align="alignnone" width="600"] Pride Book Club packages were sent to influencers who have a total following of 1.4m[/caption] As a result of having direct conversations with our young adult community and using in-depth insights on the causes and issues this audience cares about, we are able to deliver a tailored, relevant offering to our Penguin Platform audience.
By going beyond the book and using technology to directly engage with our audiences, we’re able to captivate both loyal readers and new audiences alike.
   Our Black History Month Book Club features important backlist classics and new releases, including  authors Nicola Yoon, Sam Selvon and George the Poet.
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Penguin Random House UK Seeks Out Underrepresented New Voices

At Penguin Random House UK, we are determined to publish a wider range of voices and books to more fully reflect the diverse society we live in. That’s why we have set ourselves a new company-wide goal to ensure our new hires and the books we acquire reflect UK society by 2025, in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality. We want to see a positive shift towards this goal every year through to 2025.

To measure progress towards this goal, we are asking newly acquired authors and new employees to complete a voluntary Inclusion Tracker questionnaire, and we will publish this data on our website each year. Here are just some of the ways we are working towards achieving our goal in 2017 and leading the industry to help make publishing more inclusive. writenowWriteNow WriteNow, our program to find, mentor and publish new writers from communities that are currently underrepresented on the nation’s bookshelves, is back for 2017 and applications are now open. We are looking for talented new voices across all genres, including Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s. This includes writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) or BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, or writers with a disability. WriteNow is offering 150 aspiring writers access to free regional events in LondonBristol and Newcastle where they will get one-to-one time with editors to receive expert, personalised feedback on their book, alongside access to literary agents and published authors, including Elif Shafak, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch and Fox Fisher. Our editors will work with 10 of the most promising writers over 12 months to make their manuscripts the best they can be, with the ultimate ambition of publishing these new writers. More than 2,000 writers applied to WriteNow in its first year in 2016 and over 200 editors across the company helped to review their manuscripts and select the most promising new talent. The 12 writers we are now mentoring include Charlene Allcott, a single mother who is writing commercial fiction, Nelson Abbey, who is writing a self-help book for BAME professionals, and Nazneen Ahmed, who is writing a fantasy young adult book, set between London, Gujarat and East Bengal. You can follow the conversation at #WriteNowLive Penguin Pride After its success last year, Penguin Pride is returning for 2017 to celebrate the importance of literature in progressing LGBTQ equality and changing attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. A major event produced by Penguin Live is taking place in July at Proud, Camden during London Pride fortnight. It will feature live music, spoken word, author readings and photography from Kele Okereke (lead singer of Bloc Party), Paul Flynn (author of Good as You) and Matthew Todd (author of Straight Jacket). £1 from every ticket sold will go to leading charity, Stonewall, to support their work with the LGBTQ community. uk2 Fully paid work experience We recently introduced fully paid work experience to help make our company more accessible to more young people and encourage those who may have never thought about working in publishing to start their story with us. Last year, we formalised our application process and banned all personal referrals to ensure that all of our work placements are randomly, and therefore, fairly selected. As well as this, we introduced a structured learning programme for participants to ensure everyone completing work experience with us finds it meaningful and interesting. Now, each of the 450 people who do work experience placements with us every year receive a salary of £262.50 per week. We have also partnered with The Book Trade Charity to provide subsidised accommodation near London to those who need it. As a direct result of these actions, we’ve seen significant changes to our applicant pool this year, so that is better reflects the diversity of both London and the UK:
  • We had a fantastic 2,000 applications in just 48 hours and 3,400 applications in total for work experience placements in June and July 2017
  • 85% of our applicants were from outside of London
  • 30% of applicants didn’t have a university degree
  • 20% of applicants were BAME
  uk 4 finalJobHack As well as taking steps to attract more diverse writers and applicants, we want to demystify the world of publishing and engage with a broader spectrum of talent on the ground in communities around the country. That’s why we run #JobHack - a series of interactive workshops, aimed at 16-24 year olds across the UK, which explain the opportunities in publishing, from sales and marketing to production, editorial and digital. At our first five events more than 150 attendees enjoyed access to experts from across our business and heard all about the exciting careers on offer at Penguin Random House UK. We’re holding a further four JobHack workshops for more than 100 young people in July, taking our teams to Derby, Norwich, Newcastle – areas of the UK where social mobility is a major challenge. Get a glimpse into our workshops using #PRHJobHack. All of our work to make publishing more inclusive forms part of our Creative Responsibility strategy. Take a look at our Creative Responsibility show-reel and discover our 2016 highlights here.

#ProjectReadathon Million Minutes Campaign Donates 300,000 Books

1million minPenguin Random House in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico joined together this April for the inaugural #ProjectReadathon Million Minutes campaign. From April 17 through April 23, the week leading up to World Book Day, the one-week giving and reading campaign offered readers the opportunity to help children in local communities throughout North America – simply by reading.

#ProjectReadathon invited readers to visit a specially created online reading platform at where they could read free, timed excerpts from over 200 of our books and authors. The campaign was based on the belief we all share at Penguin Random House; that the simple act of reading can have far-reaching social impact. With this in mind, the more minutes a user read, the more book donations were triggered from us to Save the Children. With enthusiastic support from authors, readers, and partners, the one-week initiative surpassed its one-million minutes goal and the campaign resulted in 300,000 books being donated to Save the Children, benefitting children in need in the US, Canada and Mexico. How #ProjectReadathon worked: Each excerpt on the platform noted how many minutes would be added and how many books would be donated throughout the campaign.
  • For example, reading a 20-minute excerpt “unlocked” a 5-book donation from Penguin Random House to Save the Children; reading an hour unlocked a 20-books donation.
  • The books went to Save the Children literacy programs, which help young students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
  Contributing Partners: Also joining the #ProjectReadathon Million Minutes campaign were Charity Miles and Tab for a Cause, two organizations that enable consumers to give back through everyday activities. Users were invited to add minutes to the Project through reading at, as well as through the Charity Miles and Tab for a Cause platforms for special in-app and on-platform opportunities. A Worldwide Celebration of Books and Giving Back: #ProjectReadathon took place in the US, Canada and Mexico, and culminated on April 23 in honor of UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright DayWorld Book Night (UK) and St. Jordi Day (Spain). Penguin Random House employees across the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, and Spain took part in local celebrations in honor of these events, as they joined together in a global celebration of books and reading to give back to their local communities. The platform will remain active and be implemented for future Penguin Random House campaigns and initiatives across North America that continue to celebrate the power of books and connect our authors and their writing with readers everywhere.

Our Collaboration With WWF Promotes Responsible Forest Management

dk treesThe World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Global Forest & Trade Network has been working with companies for over 20 years, with the mission to encourage businesses to source forest products from well-managed sources.

DK and Penguin Random House UK have been active with WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) since 2014. The companies have now set a goal of having 100% of the paper they use Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified, in other words, sustainably sourced. Wood is a renewable resource, and when forests are properly managed, harvesting timber can be an effective way of safeguarding forests for future generations. That is important, because besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change. FSC is the only wood certification scheme endorsed by WWF, Greenpeace and the Woodland Trust. Certified forests must meet a range of best-in-class standards, ensuring harvested trees are replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally. 74% of DK and 93% of PRH's paper is currently FSC certified. Collectively this is 85%. wwf finalThrough their work with the GFTN, DK and Penguin Random House UK have committed to ensuring all their products are responsibly and ethically sourced. This includes promoting responsible forest management together with their suppliers, eradicating illegal wood products from their global supply chain, and making sure their paper sourcing policy is publicly available. Thanks to their work in this area, they have been awarded the highest possible score as part of the WWF’s Timber Scorecard, which assesses the timber sourcing policies of companies across a range of industries. Nicola Torode, Head of Product Safety for DK and Penguin Random House UK, said: "We recognize the importance of forests and the services they provide, such as clean water and air, raw materials, and biodiversity. As deforestation is the second-largest source of CO2 emissions, we know that combating this through responsible paper sourcing policies is essential.” The GFTN is recognized as a successful partnership between WWF and businesses, and for spreading the message that sustainable forest management can help redress some of the most severe problems affecting forests, such as deforestation, and is key for the future. According to WWF, the business community can play a “vital role” in ensuring forest resources are well-managed, and in order to assess whether improvements are being made, it is crucial for businesses to be open about their purchasing policies. Their work with the GFTN is just one part of DK and Penguin Random House UK’s sustainability and social responsibility program. “We consider the ethical and environmental impact in all the work we do,” said Torode. “Our suppliers are audited to internationally recognized standards on a regular basis, and we only use materials that are from legal, ethical and sustainable sources. Using FSC paper and working with industry-wide bodies ensures we are continually conducting best practice.”