Category: Events

Here at Riot we LOVE a debut – whether we’re launching a new voice we know is going to resonate on a global scale, like we did with Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, or running the “the UK’s most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (The Telegraph), the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Over the past six months or so we’ve had the great pleasure of working with the team at Hutchinson to promote a particularly special debut – Tara Westover’s extraordinary memoir, Educated. We were thrilled with the coverage, which included The Times Magazine, Observer New Review, Harper’s Bazaar, Stylist, FT, Economist, Press Association, BBC Online, Channel 4 News, BBC Radio 2 Steve Wright and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, to name but a few.

To celebrate the success of the campaign and Educated becoming an international bestseller, we thought we’d share some of our top tips for launching debuts:

  • Having a book published can be quite a daunting process, so it can be reassuring for first time authors to get to know others who are having the same experiences. Shout out to Amy Baker and Rosy Edwards who run The Riff Raff, a community for debut writers. Getting your author featured on their podcast or in the line-up of one of their monthly events helps to build buzz, but also gives the author the opportunity to meet supportive peers who will hopefully go on to champion their work.
  • Identifying the right influencers and early adopters who can help position the book and generate word of mouth is of course crucial for a debut. Another shout out is due here to the wonderful Caroline Sanderson, who is such an incredible supporter of the books she loves. Having such an important figure from the book world on board can help you get cut-through in the mainstream media and Caroline’s early coverage of Educated in The Bookseller was invaluable to the success of the campaign.
  • A tip for your pitches – don’t be afraid to tell media what else you already have in the bag. Nervousness around this is understandable as worded badly it can make the recipient of your pitch feel like they’re late to the story, but worded right, and with the inclusion of a bespoke angle specifically for that outlet, it can help convince them this is going to be an important and high-profile book that they really should be covering.
  • Given that your author won’t have an existing fan base, you need your coverage to be as wide-reaching as possible. Focus on working with media to create shareable content. Two examples from the Educated campaign are this BBC Online piece, which featured on the UK and International homepages all day on the day it went live, and this video interview shot by the Channel 4 Digital team, which has been viewed on Facebook over 130,000 times.
  • Lastly, plan for longevity – how are you going to keep your author relevant and interesting to journalists beyond the publication moment? Are there any hot topics that you could establish them as experts on? If so, use the publication moment to secure coverage in special interest titles, such as the TES, which you can point to later as evidence of them being a respected spokesperson on those issues. This will help you secure additional pieces of coverage further down the line – for example, comment pieces on current affairs.

Caitlin Allen, associate director

2018 has gotten off to a great start here at Riot HQ as this week we learnt that our La Belle Sauvage launch campaign has won a PPC Quarterly Award. Not only that, but we have THREE of our campaigns shortlisted for the Annual Award.

Judge, Steven Cooper of Waterstones, said: ‘I don’t think it was guaranteed that the publication of La Belle Sauvage would be the publishing event of the year, but this publicity driven campaign made it so. Successfully rejuvenating a beloved series of books relies heavily on the sensitive balancing of the old and the new, and this campaign did that across its various strands. Alongside extensive coverage across traditional media, the campaign also sought to reach new readers with ambitious, and successful, use of social platforms, Facebook Live and influencers. The events programme, which made excellent use of limited author time, perfectly balanced the need to reach large audiences with a sensitivity, through choice of venues and interviewers, to what makes Pullman’s work so special. The lead up to publication wasn’t without its issues but this was well managed by the team of publicists, resulting in the author and his book remaining at the heart of their message. Customers responded positively, and the standout publishing moment of the year was born.’

Two of our campaigns – World Book Day and Moomins – are going head to head in the Generic category, whilst our work on Philip Pullman’s smash-hit ‘equel’ La Belle Sauvage is a contender in the Children’s category.

The winners will be announced at a dinner in London of Monday the 5th of February. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Photo credit: Anthony Upton/Photocall Productions.

Five tips for successful charity partnerships

Last week I had the huge privilege of working with the team at Oxfam to launch a new partnership between the aid and development charity and Riot client, Moomin Characters.

The partnership centres around Moomin creator Tove Jansson’s short story The Invisible Child, which is about a little girl who turns invisible after being badly treated by the woman supposedly caring for her – but reappears and regains her place in the world after being shown kindness and respect by the Moomin family. The book is on sale at Waterstones, Oxfam shops and the Moomin Shop Covent Garden with the full £4.99 price going to support Oxfam women’s projects worldwide. It has already been a huge success, with a reprint of the book being ordered just three days after the launch thanks to such high sales.

Planning the launch got me thinking about the potential pitfalls of partnerships, so here are my top five tips for making sure your charity link-ups really make a difference:

1. Authenticity.  The partnership between Moomin Characters and Oxfam came about in an organic way, and fortunately it was a very natural fit – the two organisations hold the same values of compassion, kindness, tolerance and respect for others, and the story of The Invisible Child mirrors Oxfam’s women’s projects so well. If you’re tasked with identifying potential charity partners for your clients, make sure there’s depth and logic behind your suggestions – and that you’re not just doing it because it looks good.

2. Occasion.  Partnerships such as the Moomin/Oxfam one require the generosity and hard work of a whole range of people. A launch event is a great way to not only announce your partnership to the media, but also to thank and reignite the enthusiasm of everyone who has contributed to making it a reality. We launched The Invisible Child campaign at the Finnish Ambassador’s Residence in Kensington Palace Gardens, where the Ambassador gave a speech about how the partnership was fitting given Finland has always been a leader in women’s rights (adding to the campaign narrative) and videos of Oxfam’s women’s projects were shown (reminding everyone of the reason we were there).

3. Collaboration.  PR doesn’t work in isolation, so it’s crucial to mobilise as many networks as you can to help create noise. Waterstones and Oxfam both briefed their shops to share news of the campaign across their social media channels and we were blown away by how enthusiastically they rose to the challenge with photos of the beautiful in-store displays they had created. We also worked with to arrange for the story to go live simultaneously in English, Finnish and Swedish across all its channels. Provide your partners and supporters with assets as early as possible so they can plan their own communications.

4. Appropriate ambassadors. Right at the beginning of the campaign we briefed Oxfam on the demographics of Moomin fans so that they could find someone from their amazing network of celebrity champions who matched that and could connect both audiences. That person was the brilliant Gemma Cairney, who spoke so passionately about her trips to visit Oxfam projects at the launch event. Gemma’s very genuine engagement with Oxfam’s work was what made her the perfect person to front the campaign. We also provided Moomin goody bags, including copies of The Invisible Child, for Oxfam’s wider network of supporters, so that they could share news of the campaign on social media. The total potential online reach of ambassador activity so far is a giant 2,343,000 people.

5. Persistence.  An essential quality for any PR person, but particularly relevant here when you’ve got a reasonable chance of being told by at least one journalist that charity partnerships are ten-a-penny. Don’t be afraid of returning to contacts you’ve already pitched to after the campaign has launched, letting them know how successful it’s been – it could be what they need to convince them to cover it. If your campaign is to run over an extended period of time, milestone announcements will help keep the partnership front of people’s minds and encourage more supporters to join the fundraising effort. As always, persistence is key!

 – Caitlin Allen, Campaigns Director

wbd-20-logoLine-up to include: Tom Fletcher, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Francesca Simon, Liz Pichon, Sir Chris Hoy, Holly Smale, Clare Balding, Cressida Cowell, Lydia Monks, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Julian Clary & David Roberts

World Book Day has today (Friday 25 November 2016) revealed the all-star line-up for 2017’s The Biggest Book Show on Earth tour, which will feature over 30 authors and illustrators and visit five locations throughout the UK and Ireland in celebration of World Book Day’s 20th anniversary.

The events will run from 27th February – 3rd March, hitting regions across the country and reaching 6,000 children. Host cities for this year’s tour are Glasgow, Coventry, Barry, London and Dublin. In each location, World Book Day will work closely with local partners who will bring the events to life, arranging bookselling and coordinating with local schools to invite children to attend.

On World Book Day itself (2nd March), the tour will be stopping at London’s Cadogan Hall for an audience of close to 1,000. Each event on the tour will give local children the chance to see up to six of their favourite writers and illustrators up close.

Participating authors include Waterstones Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, who will be live doodling at the London date of the tour, and firm favourites such as Holly Smale, Cressida Cowell and Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Broadcaster Clare Balding and Olympic gold medallists Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Chris Hoy will all be joining the line-up, as will Tom Fletcher, singer-songwriter and author of the bestselling The Dinosaur That Pooped stories. Returning this year will be official World Book Day illustrator Liz Pichon, Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon and author Steven Butler, who will once again compère all five locations.

Butler says: “Compèring The Biggest Book Show on Earth has easily become one of the highlights of my year, so I can’t wait to greet the packed audiences filled with excited kids from city to city all over again. Plus there are some HUGE names on the roster this year.  Once again I take my hat off to World Book Day for a truly outstanding line-up, fitting for a big 20th anniversary.”

Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day, is eagerly anticipating the tour’s kick-off: “World Book Day is all about spreading the joy of reading to every young person in the country. We’re incredibly proud to be celebrating our 20th anniversary, and what a fantastic time we’ve had! As ever, our aim is to deliver some of the very best authors and illustrators direct to thousands of children across the country.”

She added: “The Biggest Book Show on Earth is one of the jewels in World Book Day’s crown, and we couldn’t have asked for a better line-up to help us celebrate this amazing milestone. We can’t wait for young audiences to experience some of the most fun and unique author/illustrator events ever.”

As part of The Biggest Book Show on Earth’s ongoing relationship with Picturehouse Cinemas, it will be partnering with bookshops to run up to 20 author/illustrator events in cinemas across the country, adding a new dimension to The Biggest Book Show on Earth brand and reach.

More details about World Book Day can be found at

Full tour schedule (additional names still to come):

Monday, 27th February / Royal Concert Hall / Glasgow (Partner: Glasgow Libraries & Waterstones)

Rob Biddulph, Cressida Cowell, Sir Chris Hoy, Lydia Monks*, Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Tuesday, 28th February / Butterworth Hall / Coventry (Partner: Youth Libraries Group & Peters Bookselling Services)

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Alex T. Smith, Holly Smale, Julian Clary & David Roberts, Sam & Mark, Nick Mohammed

Wednesday 1st March / Memo Arts Centre / Barry (Partner: Welsh Books Council & Waterstones)

Abi Elphinstone, Jim Smith, Cathy Cassidy, Martin Brown, Eloise Williams

Thursday 2nd March / Cadogan Hall / London (Partner: National Literacy Trust & WHSmith)

Clare Balding, Francesca Simon*, Tom Fletcher, Chris Riddell, Claire Freedman & Ben Cort*, Liz Pichon*

Friday 3rd March / Liberty Hall / Dublin (Partner: Dublin City of Literature & Eason)

Judi Curtin*, David O’Doherty & Chris Judge, P. J. Lynch, Dave Rudden

Riot Communications is pleased to announce the appointment of Katy MacMillan-Scott, who joined the award-winning agency this week in the role of Campaigns Director.

Previously an Account Director at Four Colman Getty, where she started in 2007, MacMillan-Scott has worked across publicity, marketing and brand management for a wide range of literature and arts clients in the UK and overseas. Most notably, she has led on the PR for the Man Booker Prize for the past five years.

MacMillan-Scott’s other achievements include: leading on PR for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize; coordinating literary press conferences and events across the Arab World; launching continuation novels, such as Egmont Publishing’s recent Winnie-the-Pooh sequel, The Best Bear in All the World, and James Bond novels by Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd; and publicising specialist imprints including Everyman’s Library and Notting Hill Editions. Her arts projects have included the launch of Sky Arts’ Fake! The Great Masterpiece Challenge, the opening of the National Videogame Arcade, the world’s first centre for gaming, and the reopening of the Charles Dickens Museum. She also runs literary film club, The Bluestocking Club, which was launched in April this year and takes place monthly at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road.

MacMillan-Scott said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Riot. I’ve long admired their work and sense of creativity and verve. It feels like a very exciting time to be joining the team and I look forward to contributing to their growing portfolio.”

Anwen Hooson, co-MD at Riot Communications, said: “The mastermind behind some of the most visible campaigns of recent years, Katy’s work always demonstrates zeal and flair, that “extra something” we always strive to achieve for our clients. As such, Katy’s appointment feels like a fantastic fit – we’re truly excited to be welcoming her to Team Riot”.

In addition to Macmillan-Scott’s hiring, the agency is currently recruiting for a Campaigns Executive/Senior Campaigns Executive. For further information please see