Open books

Reading and learning – not just for children and not just for World Book Day

Last Thursday marked World Book Day. Now in its 22nd year, the UNESCO-recognised initiative is a celebration of literature and reading, acknowledged in over 100 countries worldwide. Dressing up and getting a book token at school weren’t needed to encourage me to read as a child – evident in my choice of employment since – but actions such as these were (and still are) important in promoting extra-curricular reading and for sowing a life-long love of literature and linguistics.

The final chapter for reading?

Reading with children outside of school is a great way to improve literacy levels, but the onus cannot always be on the parent/guardian. Spending on public libraries is crucial (127 were forced to close last year), as is investment in schemes such as that launched by SureStart (which has subsequently seen the closure of many of its under-funded centres) in 2005, which saw every child given a free bag of books by the age of three.

World Book Day, similarly, brings the subject of reading to the fore. While dressing up is fun – and fodder for the pages of local press – last Thursday also presented an opportunity for national media to cover literary and linguistic-related announcements. We learnt, for example, that only a third of children under 13 in Britain are read to daily by an adult, and that only around half of eight to 18-year-olds now read for pleasure.

Ink and iPhones

We can all point the finger at smartphones and the internet (appropriating the minds and eyeballs of our children!), but technology isn’t going to disappear any time soon, and it’s possible to make space in our lives for both ink and iPhones.

This is true from a PR perspective too, and particularly when it comes to B2B tech PR. While a sleek new consumer device might make for a snazzy marketing video, a cloud-based solution, wireless connectivity system or test and measurement tool will not produce quite the same on-screen aesthetic. And, while imagery can quickly convey the benefits of consumer gadgets, singing the praises of the nuts-and-bolts tech behind many such innovations is more of a challenge.

Telling tales

Crafting strong, well-written narratives is at the heart of what we do at Babel, and something which underpins content creation for our clients. We give clarity to complex messages, create engaging stories and provide a compelling reason for audiences to pursue conversations with our clients.

The bespoke content strategies we create are underpinned by ‘position papers’ that capture a brand’s view on a market trend or industry issue that they can assume ownership of and with which their brand can become synonymous. This content can then be used as the basis from which to craft original media pitches, feature-length articles, blog posts, commentary and opinion, video scripts, and issues jumps.

Never-ending stories

World Book Day is just one example of numerous initiatives which encourage children to read. While it’s important that such events exist, it’s equally important to continue to promote reading throughout higher education, and at other touchpoints and services that we may access during the course of our lives – especially those which engage budding readers for whom books could have a significant impact. Bookstart, for instance, offers packs to children before they’ve turned one, Reading Well aims to help individuals manage their health and wellbeing through reading, and the availability of literature in prisons (thankfully reinstated in 2015 following then justice secretary Chris Grayling’s nasty – and illegal – ban) can have an impact on rehabilitation and re-offending rates.

In the workplace, too, the promotion of reading and writing should continue – no matter employees’ background, skillset or their place within the corporate hierarchy. At Babel, all of our team members have attended various content creation and creative writing workshops, with further training planned this year. We have a half-hour every day dedicated to newspaper-reading. Written content created for clients goes through stringent editing and approval processes – something which I, as Senior Content Manager, can attest to. Finally, we work closely and collaboratively with all of our clients to develop effective, agile content strategies which align with business objectives and long-term strategic goals – as well as delivering quick wins.

Lifelong learning and lifelong reading can help breed inquisitive minds and a thirst for knowledge – two things I try and encourage amongst team members in my role at Babel. We don’t wait for clients to launch projects, sign deals or upgrade their tech; we create news and stories that feed into and drive industry conversation.

Get in touch to find out how we can pen a successful narrative for your company’s future.

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