Penguin Random House picks Born Social to tackle online author hate

Penguin Random House Logo

Award-winning social media agency, Born Social, has been appointed by Penguin Random House UK, to help tackle online abuse towards its authors and social media managers.

Born Social has become a leading authority for helping brands become social-first, which includes advisory roles on strategic comms and brand protection for companies like Penguin.

Penguin brief

For this brief, the agency will be responsible for developing new social guidelines to help the publisher manage increasing hate and abuse directed towards its content online. 

The guidelines will equip social media teams with practical tools to deal with trolling, as well as how best to support authors who are dealing with similar issues. 

It forms part of a wider piece of work that Penguin is doing to explore how to safeguard staff and better support authors’ mental health and wellbeing against this backdrop.

The brief comes after reports that hate speech rose by 20% during the pandemic. 

For Penguin, seeing an increase in racist, homophobic and transphobic hate speech against its authors, and books tackling these topics, has driven the publisher to shift its approach. 

Inspired by its brand mission, ‘we make books for everyone, because a book can change anyone’, it wants to support its talent and make a stand against targeted negativity on social media.

Penguin is the UK’s largest publisher. Founded in 1935, it has gone on to become a worldwide name with its widely-recognised branding and penguin logo.

Online challenges

Jess Colman, Director of Communications at Penguin Random House UK, said: “While social media provides us with more opportunity to connect our authors with readers around the world, it also presents us with many challenges. 

“The uncomfortable reality is that some of our authors are receiving hateful abuse online, and unfortunately this has risen significantly over the last year or so. 

“We are pleased to be working with Born Social to develop our guidance and support to help our colleagues manage this abhorrent trolling, and to protect their own wellbeing, as well as that of our authors in the face of it.”

Ben Tyson, CEO and Partner, Born Social, said: “The world of social media can be an unruly place and today brands are faced with more criticism than ever before in a public arena. 

“We’re delighted to be working with Penguin, to help their teams and authors navigate hate online. We’re also thrilled to have a brand as iconic as the publishing company we all know and love, on our books.”