Digitising historic newspapers - British Library &

Objective / Brief
To announce a partnership between the British Library and commercial partner brightsolid to digitise and make available over 40 million pages of historic newspapers online over the next 10 years.

Budget - Below £10,000

Target Audience
• Key public and private sector stakeholders
• General media
• Newspaper publishers, Newspaper Publishing Association, Newspaper Society
• Web 2.0 users and influencers
• Media analysts and commentators

The digitisation nature of the announcement lent itself to the Library implementing an integrated campaign, with an emphasis on digital media. This strategy was activated to announce the Library's partnership with brightsolid, demonstrate dynamism and innovation in the public sector and stimulate an online debate on digitisation of the national collection.

Creativity/ Originality
The creation of a Video News Release, distributing it via a social media press release and announcing the partnership on Twitter enabled the story to generate interest among traditional and online sources. The story quickly became a fervent online discussion powered by blogs, tweets and video hits, supported by a traditional media campaign.

Implementation methods

  • Keynote speech - Public Sector Innovation keynote speech at Westminster e-forum by British Library CEO, Dame Lynne Brindley - morning of press announcement
  • Broadcast coverage - Setting the news agenda with news item on Radio 4's Today Programme and BBC bulletins across the network (including Radio 2, regional stations and BBC Breakfast)
  • Social media press release - Distribution of a social media press release with accompanying Video News Release
  • Social media campaign - Creating a debate on issues of digitisation on Web 2.0 forums

Definition and measurement of success
Success was defined by the ability of the Library and brightsolid to communicate the key positive messages of the announcement as follows:

  • British Library is an innovative public sector institution
  • The Library is digitising its newspaper collection for future posterity
  • A large part of the national newspaper collection will soon be available online
  • The partnership demonstrates collaboration with the newspaper industry

The integrated approach achieved the following results:

  • Readership reached - 21.4 million
  • AVE - £287,145
  • Positivity - 95% of all articles were positive in sentiment
  • Messages delivered - 71% of stories included one of the key strategic messages

Over 140 pieces of print, online and broadcast coverage:

  • Sample Print - The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Sample Online - BBC Online, Yahoo! News, Google News (Front Page), techwatch.co.uk, t3.com, theregister.co.uk
  • Sample Broadcast - BBC Radio 4, Radio 2, 5 Live & Radio 1, ITV 1 News, Sky News
  • The Library's Sound Archive Head Richard Ranft also appeared on BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House's final Who Do You Think You Archive project programme, discussing with Mark Thompson (BBC Director General) and Emily Bell (Media Guardian) the benefits of archive digitisation

Significant reaction on social media forums and blogs:

  • Twitter - over 2,000 tweets
  • Blogs - influential blogs - i.e. Roy Greenslade (Guardian), Emily Bell (Guardian), Media Guardian
  • Social media press release - Video News Release viewed nearly 400 times on youtube. The footage created was used by Sky News, ITV News, BBC Online, Daily Telegraph Online and others
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