Monday, February 11, 2008

Big Read

I meant to write about the Big Read on Sunday but I was involved with a “big read” of my own, trying to finish The Age of Turbulence. It’s not exactly portable. Plus, this post is meant to be a preview; something fun’s coming later in the year.

The idea that reading needs to be marketed is a little strange to me – but then I remember Woody Allen saying, “I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It was about Russia.”

The Big Read is “an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts to restore reading to American culture.” I’m in favor of it and there’s a strong push nationally for the program.

Our First Lady, Laura Bush, has been touring the country about The Big Read – good PR for the initiative from the nicest First Lady (so I hear) that’s been in The White House since…well…her mother-in-law. Maybe nicer. The most significant promoter of reading in this country is Oprah Winfrey and more power to her (although she seems to be doing fine even without my best wishes).

What are you doing to help? Suppose you’re an ad agency, or PR firm, or graphic design outfit – and you think reading is vitally important not only to America but to democracy as a concept.

And you want to do some pro bono work that’ll get you more noticed? (Most agencies have to turn this kind of thing away ‘cause it eats their lunch, right? This is not a topic I want to get into right now.) You go to The Big Read website, maybe read some of the very good blog by David Kipen. And you’re inspired to find out where in your neighborhood, city or county you can lend a hand…as a professional marketer and communicator. Go ahead. I think it’ll be a great idea. Plenty of books to choose from, too.

Some advertising agencies get publicly involved in promoting The Big Read but they’re hard to find. White Light Advertising in Bridgeport, CT, worked on the media plan for The Big Read initiative in the southwestern part of the state – the agency used radio, cable TV ads, bus wraps and grassroots programs. The news is on the agency’s website, which is where the ad above came from.

I would have liked to see some results of this particular campaign – but maybe it shows up with kids checking out more library books…or adults getting turned on to something they would no otherwise have even considered. (“I only read the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for the articles!”)

Maybe this is a good time to get the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association involved…an organization filled with enthusiasts! Any road, keep an ear cocked for the next Big Read initiative that comes your way. There are plenty of worthy causes but this one won’t force you to pedal 180 miles to Austin.

2 comments:

Rowena said...

We had a lot of fun promoting The BIG Read in southwestern Connecticut, and are getting ready roll it out again for this year's initiative! This year's book for our region is "The Joy Luck Club". The book and author have so much to offer to our community. The Chinese cultural influences have led the way for a lot of the fun activities that will be featured. We also have learned that the author, Amy Tan, has Lyme Disease. So, we'll be using this opportunity to include a free medical presentation and discussion based on the prevention of Lyme Disease. Which is an on-going issue in our area.

As for the advertising of The BIG Read in our area, not only do we believe in the "cause" of promoting literary arts and reading as a part of American culture, but we also believe in promoting the positive aspects and community initiatives available to the public in the City of Bridgeport and Connecticut.

~Rowena, White Light Advertising
rowena@whitelightadvertising.com

miro slodki said...

Hi Richard

Speaking of literacy efforts, you might check out Chapters.com,
the major bookselling retailer in Canada

they launched a book reader's community circle about 6 months ago
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/Community-Home/community_home-promonb.html

I haven't as yet joined (too much reading to do on various blogs) but it has many great elements* going for it that will see me there at some point.

*(posting and discussing book reviews, virtual sessions with the author, recommendation lists etc...)

It's one of the smarter applications of social media I've seen.

Cheers
Miro