Penguin Random House UK has launched a new business, Penguin Connect, connecting companies and authors to “inspire personal and professional growth” through bespoke events such as workshops and keynote speeches.
Connect is believed to be the only book publisher offering this service in the UK and is an evolution of Penguin Living, a wellbeing and personal development initiative led by Ebury and PRH's audiences and audio teams.
The first business launch from PRH for a number of years, work began on Connect’s branding in January with Jonathan Phillips, formerly head of Penguin Living, becoming head of Penguin Connect. The team is currently made up of two dedicated roles with recruitment underway for a third in the form of an events programme manager.
The Bookseller understands the business will also draw on the wider expertise of the central audiences and audio team, working in partnership with all of PRH’s publishing houses. PRH has run numerous author events and programmes with more than 40 clients over the last couple of years and the learnings have informed the creation of Penguin Connect.
“In the run-up to the launch, we have so far delivered events with our authors to Facebook, Snapchat, BBC Studios, Accenture and Google amongst others featuring authors including Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Sara Milne Rowe, James O’Brien, Melissa Hemsley, Humza Arshad and Francesca Martinez,” PRH said. There are eight authors currently listed on the Connect website including retail expert Mary Portas and broadcaster Afua Hirsch.
“Connect provides a platform for organisations to enhance employee growth and development by giving staff direct access to our authors; supporting the increasing importance that companies are placing on the role that learning and wellbeing plays in business success,” the publisher said. “By providing relevant, thought-provoking content across a range of fields, it will enable organisations to drive growth and navigate challenges by sparking learning, stimulating debate and inspiring personal and professional growth amongst staff.”
Aiming to “inspire personal and professional growth”, the business delivers bespoke events, from interactive workshops and keynote speeches to multi author programmes, “taking PRH authors into the heart of organisations”. It aims to support organisations across a wide range of areas, including learning and development, employee wellbeing and benefits, and thought leadership content. The business also works to expand authors' readership. "As well as providing an additional revenue stream for authors via fees and book sales, Connect develops a new audience base for our authors and their works, across a broad spectrum of publishing," PRH said.
In terms of costing, the model is apparently tailored to each client and depends on the size and reach of the event, as well as the author and number of books involved.
Phillips said: “It has been hugely rewarding to see the appetite for our authors’ expertise and I think this is driven, in part, by the sheer volume of content that people have to navigate today to find a genuine authority in a given area; whether individual growth, broader societal themes, or the future of work. The role of the publisher has always been that of the curator and, through Penguin Connect, we’re looking forward to reaching the widest possible audience for our authors in the business community.”
Olivia McMonagle, business marketing manager at Facebook, said of the Connect team: “They have been brilliant at helping us develop an event programme that ties in with our values and culture, spanning a range of subject matters from resilience and wellbeing and food and drink to diversity and inclusion.”