Room to Read Distributes Its 10 Millionth Book

It’s involved more than 300 of our colleagues, almost 30 of our offices, and a period of three years, and now it has helped contribute to 10 million books for children in need.

Since late 2008, Ketchum has donated communications expertise and manpower to our chosen pro bono partner, Room to Read, and late last month, this effort helped support the achievement of a historic milestone with the distribution of Room to Read’s 10 millionth book to children in developing countries.

Founded in 2000, Room to Read works in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and also to ensure girls have the skills and support needed to complete their secondary education. Since 2000, Room to Read has affected the lives of more than five million children in Asia and Africa, and it aims to reach 10 million children by 2015.

On Oct. 28, Room to Read reached one of its biggest milestones yet — the distribution of its 10 millionth book through its Local Language Publishing program, which develops and distributes original and culturally relevant local-language books, and through its Gifts-in-Kind program, which includes donations of new English-language books from select publishers. The Local Language Publishing program was launched after the organization noticed a lack of local-language books available in the countries in which Room to Read operates, and the program has now produced over 575 original children’s book titles in 25 languages, representing 5.6 million books.

Since Ketchum formed a partnership with Room to Read in 2008, we’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to lend communications support to a range of activities, such as developing key messaging for and pitching stories to media, conducting media training for executives, and translating media messages into multiple languages. Some of our biggest efforts have included developing a media relations strategy for Room to Read’s 10th anniversary, funding the production and distribution of 5,000 books in Laos, establishing a library in Nepal, and, now, providing media relations support for the celebration of Room to Read’s 10 millionth book.

A ceremony marking the distribution of the 10 millionth book took place at Ngu Hiep, Vietnam, on Oct. 28 with Room to Read founder John Wood and New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof on hand to witness the event. While the major media relations initiative for the event begins today, the 10 millionth book milestone kicked off with two marquee Room to Read profiles by Kristof: “His Libraries, 12,000 So Far, Change Lives” and “Girls Just Want to Go to School.”

To build on this momentum, as one part of a strategy to expand on this coverage, today we’ve helped Room to Read launch a comprehensive multimedia release with a number of videos, photos, social media links and other background materials to help provide media with more information about this historic achievement. In the weeks to come, we look forward to helping Room to Read continue this coverage through a series of other media relations activities.

As a communicator, it has been the highest honor for me to share in helping deliver Ketchum’s expertise to an organization that is making such an incredible impact in the world. We celebrate this incredible milestone with Room to Read and look forward to great success in the years to come.

Julie Ferriot serves as the global director of Ketchum Social Responsibility (KSR), overseeing the agency’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, including the management of Ketchum’s pro bono partner Room to Read. In this role, she drives global engagement in volunteer and sustainability programs across Ketchum offices and affiliates. Since joining the agency in 2005 Julie has also served as Vice President in the Corporate practice. Julie is based in San Francisco.