An Interview with Lottie Halstead
By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
Lottie Halstead is a Marketing Manager at Puffin. Having studied English at the University of Birmingham, Lottie went on to intern at Penguin Random House before landing a permanent role on the children’s team with Puffin. Lottie has worked on many amazing children’s campaigns including The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke, and Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus. We asked Lottie to give us an insight into her role as Marketing Manager and to share some of her favourite campaigns that she has worked on.
Can you tell us about your journey into publishing, did you always know you wanted to be a part of this industry, and children’s in particular?
I have always really loved reading but had no idea that working in publishing could be a career! I had zero knowledge of publishing and I thought the options either were that you were an author or an editor, and didn’t realise that there were other jobs in the industry.
When I graduated from university, in-between temping jobs, I did some work experience at The Guardian and worked in the Children’s Books section; I remember I went along to a meeting with a publicist from a publisher who was visiting to share some new releases and suddenly got a really interesting insight into the way that publishers worked with media and that publishers had marketing and publicity teams.
After that, I applied for a paid summer internship at Penguin Random House. This was a marketing placement at Ebury Books, where I spent three months in the marketing department and loved it. I got to help out across a range of books and learnt so much. I then got a job as Marketing Assistant in the Penguin Random House Children’s team and I’ve been there ever since!
You’ve been a Marketing Manager at Puffin for almost a year, what does a typical day look like in your role? What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
This is a bit of a cliche answer - but every day is really varied.
A typical day means I check in on my campaigns. With marketing you’re constantly assessing, analysing and optimising campaign activity so I check in on how my advertising is performing along with partnership activity and content creation. I’ll also spend time planning upcoming campaigns and writing up briefs: everything from video content to images, to point of sale (posters and materials for bookshops). There's a big design element to marketing as everything we do is so visual, so that is normally a part of my day to day.
Alongside this, I usually have a meeting or two (or three...). In our marketing team we work really closely with different teams across the division and will speak to design, sales, editorial, PR, rights and others in planning upcoming campaigns.
A challenge has definitely been the past two years of the pandemic: we had to really adjust not only the way we work (in becoming remote), but the way we market books, too, in a landscape where everything was constantly changing.
What was your favourite campaign you have worked on recently and the most challenging?
I’ve loved working on this year’s Christmas with Tom Fletcher campaign! There are two new books from the world of The Christmasaurus, a new middle-grade title, plus the original story has been reimagined in picture book format. It’s been a really fun campaign to work on as it’s been amazing engaging with fans of the Christmasaurus series and also seeing younger readers enjoying the story too. I’ve also loved feeling festive all year round planning the campaign!
I would say that all campaigns are challenging in their own ways – the thing I like about marketing is that it is constantly changing and along with this, every audience is different, so challenging yourself to think differently from campaign to campaign is definitely a really important thing to be doing.
What marketing campaign have you seen recently that really impressed you?
I’ve been loving seeing the Christmas campaigns that have come out, and one I like seeing year on year is Spotify Unwrapped. It’s a clever campaign and a really interesting example of a company using your data in a way that doesn’t feel invasive.
Puffin is focused on children’s books. How does your strategy differ when marketing to parents versus marketing to children?
We target parents in our advertising, but this varies hugely. Within this group of adults there are gifters, grandparents, relatives – it is never just one audience! Each audience is so different, so when it comes to marketing to reach audiences there’s a lot of nuance. When it comes to reaching children, we think really creatively about how best to reach them. An example I can think of is working closely with our brilliant PR team on schools-facing events and content. In lockdown, the Puffin Marketing and PR team organised the Puffin Festival of Dreams to celebrate Puffin’s 80th birthday and this was a week-long virtual event with authors, illustrators and real puffins for writing masterclasses, draw-alongs and creative challenges which reached children during the pandemic.