Founded in 2019 in Portland, Oregon, A Kids Book About is a Black-owned children’s media company that specializes in creating content that facilitates fearless conversations between kids and grownups about life’s most challenging, important, and empowering topics.
The company set out to make a series of books that spoke honestly with kids ages 5-9 about the toughest, most complex issues facing our society, launching with its flagship title being A Kids Book About Racism.
Unlike traditional children’s publishing, A Kids Book About doesn’t rely on distributors and retailers to sell books, but rather uses a successful direct-to-consumer retail model, which has unlocked a lightning-fast go-to-market ability all while cultivating a community around their brand. Each book features personal, story-driven exploration of important topics in a simple design meant to keep the focus on the words and rather than a cartoon character. But what makes this company unique are the voices it elevates to write these books – its authors and creative team includes people from many backgrounds and identities across race, gender and age. It’s the most diverse group of authors under one publisher in the industry. This level of diversity ensures that the brand is always able to authentically approach each topic, relying on lived experience to give parents a guide to tough questions kids pose.
Within 10 days following George Floyd’s murder, A Kids Book About had a surprising boost. Suddenly, a whopping 50,000 copies ($1M worth) of its previously published flagship book on racism were off to doorsteps across the country. It was clear the title touched a nerve. With many other titles planned, GreenRoom needed to thoughtfully continue raising the profile of the book but also ensure the other titles were garnering attention. Leveraging the brand’s purpose and focusing on the fact that these books are meant to facilitate open and honest conversations amongst kids and their adults about difficult topics was of top priority. The brand also expressed the interest of creating opportunities that would allow for the authors to be highlighted, giving them a chance to express their own expertise, experience and passion for their topic.
It was important for the agency to understand the unique method of storytelling that this brand embodies. Having books that “talk up, not down” to kids, covering difficult-to-talk-about topics, and promoting open and honest conversations are all unique attributes that distinguishes this brand from the rest of the industry. To start, the agency developed a communications strategy that embodied the brand’s unique socially driven messaging to create heightened visibility for the brand and their one-of-a-kind line of kids’ books. Second, it was paramount to drive opportunities that would spotlight the series’ authors, enabling them to share their experience and expertise to further ingratiate their stories in the consumer marketplace.
To continue their success, A Kids Book About needed a communications strategy that consisted of targeting key vertical markets including parenting, lifestyle, news, and women’s interest, in addition to vetting broadcast and other sales-generating opportunities leading into the holiday season. While a bedrock of earned media was going to be critical for success, GreenRoom couldn’t rely on it solely and ensure other disciplines were involved like parentship relations, celebrity exposure, brand-enriching activities.
With the momentous events that unfolded during 2020 such as racial inequality, a presidential election, and living through a world-wide pandemic, creating a sense of urgency for consumers to connect with the brand became a focal point for the agency. GreenRoom recognized the importance of getting these books out into the media and into consumer homes, utilizing our creative strategies in tandem with developing curated pitches to target vertical markets including parenting, books, lifestyles, culture, politics, and health. Promoting titles such as A Kids Book About Racism and A Kids Book About COVID-19 at the forefront, allowed us to create a sense of product need urgency and heightened awareness for the brand during a time that was the most impactful.
From the start of the program, it was clear there was a tremendous opportunity for elevated media coverage for a brand that had the ability to fill a growing need among parent consumers. Upon securing A Kids Book About as a client, the agency quickly executed an opportunity for the brand to be selected in Oprah’s Favorite Things List 2020 which is monumental for a brand which was founded only a year prior. Fully leveraging the Oprah opportunity, the brand was also included in a Good Morning America segment that highlighted the top products from the Oprah’s Favorite Things List. With over 200 published pieces deriving from being featured in O Magazine alone, A Kids Book About’s business was fundamentally changed in 5 days with the previous sales record was eclipsed by more than eightfold.
At a time when values and other lived experiences were being put under the political microscope, A Kids Book About partnered with The Gender Cool Project on a series of three books that explored the notion of being non-binary, being transgender and being inclusive. The authors were teens living that experience who make up the group to bring visibility and advocacy. Working together with the team, we saw coverage in The New York Times, Scary Mommy, as well as a pending broadcast segment on TODAY. The agency also took the lead on the industry and education trades, seeking to pave the way for school library inclusion which would prove to be a major sales driver for the brand.
Understanding the considerable cost of celebrity partnerships, GreenRoom took a very different tact with an approach that transcended traditional outreach as most brands do it. Rather than accept the “here’s my rate card” discussion, the agency worked closely with agents and managers of talent that aligned closely with our brand and had children of their own. From there, we crafted carefully curated packages the celebrities could read with their own children that not only underscored our brand’s ethos but also the message of the books. One of the most notable social shares came from actress Kristin Bell which alone would have otherwise cost the brand millions of dollars. Instead, A Kids Book About received exposure from top Hollywood talent with nearly 15 million followers on Instagram based on the merits of a strong message and deeply tailored approach.
Thinking through the business element of earned media as well, GreenRoom also spearheaded a considerable awards program with a heavy emphasis on Fast Company. Thanks to compelling submissions the agency drafted, the brand earned 2020’s World Changing Ideas distinction. Coming into 2021, the brand was also named as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. Incredibly, the two-year old brand placed third in a list of 10 only trailing behemoth brands Chobani yogurt and CannonDesign.
Lastly, the agency focused on looking for ways to provide the brand’s authors with a platform to share their experiences and expertise. Various authors have been guest on podcast such as Mom’s Don’t Have Time to Read Books with Zibby Owens and Little-Known Facts with Ilana Levine.
Furthermore, the agency was able to secure a social media activation for multiple authors to participate in a story takeover on the Woman’s Day Instagram account which has 245,000 followers. Through these Instagram story takeovers’, the authors will have the opportunity to read excerpts from their books in addition to sharing how they celebrate certain awareness recognition events such as World Autism Awareness Day, Earth Day and World Gratitude Day.
In just six months of working together, A Kids Book About has received over 4,650,780,330impressions, raising notable brand awareness in key vertical markets throughout 2020 and carrying into 2021. Positioning the brand as a resource and promoting these books as a tool to get the conversation started between kids and their grownups, proved to be successful with coverage in marquee publications such as Huffington Post, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, PopSugar, Mashable, Prevention, Parents, and CNN.
Further, the brand being selected as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things created a large buzz, with over 200 published pieces mentioning the brand’s inclusion in the coveted list, and a Good Morning America segment which reached a national audience of over 3,527,248 households. This opportunity amplified the brand’s purpose and yielded a tremendous number of sales resulting in a 1000% increase from the year prior to round out Q4.
Not resting on the halo effects of Oprah, the GreenRoom team continues to facilitate marquee storytelling on behalf of the brand. Cultivating a strong working relationship with the Drew Barrymore team as her show gains viewership, the brand received nearly sole attention in a segment with Tiki Barber on various titles as perfect companions for parents at bedtime. The agency secured an exclusive sit-down interview on Good Morning America to provide wife of former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s wife, Evelyn, a platform to discuss her book on sexual abuse.
As true innovators of the industry, it is to no surprise the ample amount of support and recognition the brand acquired just a year. With immense support comes room for growth, and in 2021 — and beyond — the brand sets out to be a kids media company launching a new board book category for ages 0-4, a podcast series, as well as a masterclass learning network for kids ages 10-15 to expand the brand’s reach throughout all childhood ages.
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