Nine employees have been laid off following a reorganization in Penguin Random House’s Audiences, Brands and Communications department, which also envisages new roles and the creation of a dedicated ‘agency’.
The publisher said it undertook a strategic reorganization to “bolster its digital marketing capabilities and harness the power of the Penguin brand” while responding to the rise of online book clubs. The Bookseller understands that the nine departures came after consultation from across the department. Rebecca Sinclair will continue to lead the department under the new title of Chief Brand Officer and will continue to report to CEO Tom Weldon.
PRH said the move would also create “a number of new roles,” including in analytics, programmatic media and digital channels, as it aims to grow and develop additional digital marketing skills. These vacancies will be posted on the company’s careers website in the coming weeks.
The Audiences, Brand and Communications department is renamed Brand. The publisher said the department will be “home to a number of core disciplines that will support publishers and work closely with them to increase the discoverability of Penguin’s books and authors and build a future pipeline of readers.” It added, “The transformation reflects and responds to the changing market backdrop, including changing consumer behavior and the increasing influence of online book clubs.”
The reorganized division will create an in-house “agency” to support publishers throughout the publishing process with key technical and creative skills, boost campaigns and strengthen author brands. These capabilities include consumer insights, marketing attribution, design, photography and event production, and will “allow for greater coordination and a more effective workflow,” the editor said. It will also develop its social impact agenda, including driving programs like the Lit in Color campaign, the Primary School Libraries Alliance and WriteNow, as well as supporting the company’s inclusion strategy.
PRH said: “One of the key drivers behind the transformation is the building of a digital marketing platform for PRH authors, leveraging the power of the Penguin brand and the collective strength of authors past, present and future to increase discoverability of our titles; whether it’s raising awareness of new voices or introducing established authors to new and diverse audiences through branding activities.
“By developing fundamental digital marketing skills and infrastructure, the team aims to draw on first-party data to build a deeper understanding of consumers, helping them better identify and anticipate their needs – and do so through our extensive back catalogue to fulfill. ”
Weldon said, “There are more ways than ever to harness the power of our brand, along with our own channels and platforms, to reach readers and create awareness to fulfill our mission. And as the move to the internet accelerates, we want to strengthen and optimize our digital marketing capabilities to sell more books and expand our reach.
“Since taking over this department in early 2021, Rebecca has already laid the groundwork to take advantage of this opportunity, including building our rapidly growing digital marketing team led by Jon Donovan. In recent years she has also significantly influenced the brand as it is today, from our social impact agenda to our corporate mission. I am delighted that she will continue to lead the department in this increasingly important role. I am confident that with a talented team behind her, we now have the structure, tools and most importantly the brand to capitalize on the unique opportunity that digital marketing presents to us.”
Sinclair added, “The Brands department is full of talented and dedicated colleagues and I feel extremely privileged to lead them as we enter this new phase.
“We’re fortunate to be custodians of one of the most loved brands in publishing, and that’s increasingly important as consumers look for differentiation online. These changes will help us make the most of both the brand’s commercial and social capital.
“A transformation of this magnitude can mean difficult decisions and unfortunately nine colleagues will leave the company as a result. You all made a valuable contribution and will be missed. They leave with our best wishes and thanks.”