Shared reading – where children read to, or with, a parent or guardian, is very important for the development of their English skills. However, many children across the UK get less than the recommended amount. In order to help get more children reading with their parents or guardians, BookTrust runs an annual fundraising day in schools across the UK called ‘Pyjamarama’. 

The challenge was to encourage as many schools as possible across the UK to take part – driving sign ups and fame for the day and to firmly put it on schools’ annual calendar. 

Mid-way through the campaign, COVID-19 struck, which meant that it would no longer be able to take place in schools. BookTrust reacted quickly and evolved the event, so it would take place online, with children participating from home. This required a wholesale change of plans and an equally nimble communications approach. 

In order to drive sign ups ahead of the event, Newsfeed planned three phases of activity to support and promote Pyjamarama 2020. For Phase 1, we created new research and developed a news story which lead on the number of children in the UK in ‘literary poverty’ – defined as a child who receive less than 15 minutes of shared reading time per week. 

Two further stages of activity were planned. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, this would no longer be possible. We therefore created new research – which followed on from the previous data – and investigated the changing behaviour of parents and children during lockdown. 

In order to gain cut through during an extremely busy news period, we ensured the research would give us the ‘hard’ news angles that we would need – and it found, amongst other things, that screen time had increased by two hours a day, whilst nearly a quarter of children were not receiving any home education at all.

Through a mixture of dedicated interviews and interview syndication, we secured 165 pieces of broadcast coverage – including BBC 2, BBC News Channel and BBC Five Live – featuring a brand spokesperson. Total airtime was over 4 hours (14 minutes of which was national).

A wide range of print and online coverage was also secured, including The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Sun, The Mirror and Metro. 

In total, Newsfeed generated 22 national pieces of coverage and the campaign had a total reach of over 1 billion.