The Publishing Post
Campaign Spotlight: Reprieve
By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
With online influencers now a staple strategy in marketing repertoire, publishers – big and small – are increasingly on the search for new and innovative methods to promote the latest literary bestsellers. In the past few years, marketing teams across the publishing industry have been experimenting with immersive multimedia reading experiences hosted by third party companies, such as Tandem Collective, to curate a “bespoke” experience that cleverly mirrors the narrative of the story and gets to grips with the psyche of the characters.
Tandem Collective prides itself in being “more than a digital marketing agency,” collaborating with influencers to launch social media campaigns for upcoming publications. With a large client list containing some of the biggest names in the UK publishing sector, for the last five years it has been a favourite with readers and publishers alike. Founded by Naomi Bacon, the agency oversees a range of marketing campaigns, primarily read-alongs, but also listen-alongs and cook-alongs for new audiobooks and cookbooks.
If a book blogger is interested in collaborating with Tandem, they are encouraged to sign up to the agency’s fortnightly newsletter which highlights the upcoming releases that will be promoted in the coming weeks. Bloggers fill out a short form to select their two preferred texts in order to keep the process fair and accessible to a wide range of influencers. If selected, the read-along package is sent to the influencer. In return, insights and statistics are passed onto Tandem and the respective publisher they are promoting in order to monitor engagement and establish whether a campaign has been a success.
Tandem goes beyond sending readers proof copies, devising “immersive read-alongs” as a means of promoting a title. Selected influencers are provided a schedule for the week-long event, detailing the page range for each day in order to create a coordinated reading experience amongst all participating readers. Bloggers also receive question cards – with questions and occasional challenges as prompts for posts. These can draw attention to key themes in a novel, and aim to provoke conversations between bloggers and their followers to create a real buzz about an upcoming release. Devising digital campaigns can be quite a challenge, with Tandem promoting a wide range of genres, from crime fiction to magical realism. Examples of recent campaigns include Pulitzer-Prize winning All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Sunset by Harry Potter actress and comedian Jessie Cave. In line with Sunset’s protagonist sisters, question cards prompted bloggers to create social media content themed around their own siblings and the meaningful relationships in their lives. Readers of All The Light We Cannot See were given inspiration for their posts through prompts placed on museum tickets, in connection with the setting of the Museum of National History in Paris, where the novel takes place.
One of the latest releases to join the trend of immersive read-alongs is Reprieve by James Han Mattson. This spooky season, the marketing team at Bloomsbury has collaborated with Tandem Collective to create an interactive reading experience that will get people talking alongside the release of their timely new thriller.
This chilling new book revolves around a concept as striking as its bright green cover and sprayed blood-red edges; four contestants make it to the final level in a haunted full-contact escape room, all they have to do is overcome six terrifying challenges and collect all the red envelopes, and they win a significant cash prize. But before they can complete the game, one of the contestants is murdered.
One month before publication, a selection of Bookstagrammers were sent a proof copy of this title with some mysterious add-ons to help them begin their read-along experience. In keeping with the unique plot of the novel, participants were given concealed envelopes containing timed challenges for them to complete while reading. Each card encouraged the readers to engage with the thought-provoking story on social media. Some presented intriguing questions to prompt a discussion in the comments, while others challenged the readers to post a one-line review to Reels or suggested creative arrangements and flat-lays for Bookstagrammers to replicate on their feeds. The colourful prompt cards even offered prizes for the best creative challenge at every level. These accompanying tasks inspire the reader to not only engage more intentionally with the book, but to share their thoughts on the unsettling drama with their followers, and by unifying the read-along experiences under a collective hashtag and making digital versions of the cards available to followers, what might have once been a solitary pastime quickly becomes a shared experience between a community of readers.
Starting an organic conversation about a new release can be a difficult task for any marketing team. Tandem Collective have proposed an imaginative approach that allows publishers to focus on the already existing book communities and bring back the bonding experience of falling in love with a new story.