PRH looks to develop consumer focus

PRH looks to develop consumer focus

Penguin Random House UK’s new consumer and digital development department has set out its structure, which will help it “come together as one company around the consumer” to achieve PRH’s aim of being “a cultural and entertainment powerhouse”.

In an email to staff Hannah Telfer, who was made group director, consumer and digital development in January,  set out the new structure of the team and announced the formation of the Penguin Random House consumer executive.

In an interview with The Bookseller last week, PRH c.e.o. Tom Weldon said the company needed to have a direct relationship with the consumer: “The biggest challenge for publishers is not digital, but discoverability: how do we tell people about the next great book? The answer comes back to building a direct relationship with consumers. Our scale is what enables us to do this properly.”

In her email to staff, Telfer echoed these thoughts, and said the company needed to come together around the consumer. She wrote: “At conference Tom spoke of the potential for Penguin Random House to be a cultural and entertainment powerhouse; a home for all audiences.
“He described the opportunity for us to create the blueprint for a publisher brand as a consumer brand and, in doing so, capture the attention of the world for the stories, ideas and writing that matters.”

The changes announced this week will be the start of PRH’s move to building a more direct relationship with consumers.

Louise Vinter will broaden her role as head of consumer insight at Random House to across PRH, and with her team will lead consumer research projects, including a new audience segmentation project. Vinter will also expand Bookmarks, the Random House readers’ panel, to “become a PRH resource, giving all parts of the business access to over 3,500 readers through surveys and focus groups”.

Layla West will move from digital channels director at Penguin to become PRH’s consumer engagement director, and her role will include bringing together the Penguin and Random House digital design teams “to ensure we have a strong visual identity across our branded and author channels to attract and retain key audiences”.

The consumer engagement team replaces the Penguin digital channels team, with Ruth Spencer extending her Random House role to become head of partnerships and interest brands. She will lead the marketing on an “interest-based level, such as crime and cookery”.

Emma Bagshaw, previously head of digital marketing at Random House, becomes head of group marketing. Area of focus will include marketing analytics, metadata, email marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) expertise.

Jeanette Turmaine, head of web product management at Penguin, will continue to report to Telfer but her team will report to Jon Salt, who becomes head of digital development as Turmaine has started her maternity leave.

Telfer and Salt will help migrate Penguin and Random House to a new web platform.

Nathan Hull, digital product development director, will work with Michael Joseph, Transworld and Ebury, and lead an “overall product development strategy for cookery where we have a strong share of this market segment”.

Dan Franklin, digital publisher, will work with Vintage, Penguin General, Penguin Press and Cornerstone and Salt will take responsibility for PRH Children’s.  

The audio teams at Penguin and Random House will also be brought together. Videl Bar-Kar, previously audio publisher for Random House, takes on that role for PRH.

Ravina Bajwa becomes senior commissioning editor working with PRH Children’s, Penguin Press, Michael Joseph and Vintage Jenni Lewis becomes senior commissioning editor taking responsibility for Transworld, Cornerstone, Penguin General and Ebury.  

The PRH consumer executive will be made up of experts and leaders from across PRH. It will develop audience strategy and “ensure we have the right infrastructure in place to attract, retain and engage readers, driving the discovery of our authors, their books and related content”, said Telfer.

In another email, group strategy director Paul Kelly announced that Charlotte Richards, currently head of insight at Penguin, will broaden her role to head of data, insight and analytics across PRH, while Jana Strickrodt will become head of commercial analysis and reporting across PRH. Kelly said that insight derived from consumers’ online and retail activity “will be crucial to the future understanding of our consumers, retail customers and our business environment”.