Friday, 13 December 2013

Funny Business

Children’s books are fun, right? That seems self-evident, but when you’re writing one it can sometimes become an experience as far from fun as it’s possible to be! The same could be said for working in an office, where fun isn't generally at the top of the agenda. So I was pleased to have an opportunity this week to mix fun, work and children's books.

As you may have seen on Tuesday's Blog Break, OUP Children's Books are hosting a mischievous sea monkey character (from Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre's Oliver and the Seawigs) who is doing "work experience" for a series of advent tweets. I'd been idly thinking about getting involved, but was spurred on by the disappointment of not being selected in the book blurb challenge on the SCBWI Yahoo Group. Feeling that I wanted to do something positive to offset the negative, I tweeted the OUP Children's team, who brought the sea monkey down to my office a couple of days later:

Click to see larger version

There was something gloriously subversive about taking over the OED library to make photos of a knitted animal, although we ultimately went with a shot from the better-lit office. I was wondering how we were going to get the monkey to hold the phone, but luckily the publicity team were well prepared, with a pre-printed photo and some cunning use of Velcro.

I'm often taken aback by the speed of social media marketing compared to traditional campaigns. The selfie photo was taken at 10:45 and by 11:10 it had been tweeted by @OUPChildrens and retweeted by @OxfordWords to over 100,000 followers. A very famous monkey indeed!

The second photo needed some further preparation:

Click to see larger version

I really enjoyed subverting our Oxford Dictionaries Quick Search App for this, and it also served as a cunning bit of cross-promotion. OUP is such a large company that working across departments can be a challenge, and that made this opportunity even more of a pleasure. Big thanks to Charlotte Morris (@charlieinabook) and Alesha Bonser (@aleshabonser) from the OUP Children's Publicity Team for making it happen!

There are still another eleven days of advent left, and I can't wait to see what fun and trouble the sea monkey causes next!