The Portico Library in Manchester is home to The Portico Prize for Literature.
The biennial prize is the UK’s only award for outstanding literature that best evokes ‘the spirit of the North’. Once described as ‘the Booker of the North’, the Prize is open to literature across the formats of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The Portico Prize was established in 1985 to celebrate the strong regional and literary identity of the North.
The prize made a return in 2019, in a new partnership with the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, having last been awarded in 2015. It skipped a year in 2017 due to the loss of its sponsor.
I was appointed to provide strategic prize consultancy to relaunch the Portico Prize and to deliver a year-round PR campaign to raise its regional and national profile. A co-ordinated and strategic approach was taken to the media campaign to draw on the Prize milestones – from the call for submissions to the winner announcement. This enabled us to generate media coverage at key points throughout the year and to produce a variety of digital content for the Portico Prize’s social channels.
Campaign highlights included an agenda-setting front cover feature about writers and the North in Observer New Review, with interviews with all six shortlisted writers. BBC Radio 4 Front Row hosted a panel discussion about northern literature; BBC Radio 4 Today previewed the shortlist and news of the 2020 winner ran on BBC News homepage. Jessica Andrews was interviewed in the Guardian about her winning book, Saltwater.
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