Name: Martha Halford
Role: Head of Communication    
Company: Martha HalfordPR

Martha Halford is a UK-based PR professional with twenty years’experience promoting non-fiction. After overseeing the PR function at a medium-sized independent publisher of business & management titles for ten years, she set up her eponymous consultancy in 2010.

Several PANZ members are likely to have UK distribution without an active marketing function. If any of them would like to bring their titles to the attention of a bigger audience, Martha would be delighted to discuss a potential collaboration with them. Please go to the website’s contact section to find her details.

My first job in publishing was… I started my career as a production assistant with Dorling Kindersley. The ad stated that I would be required to liaise among departments which appealed to me due to the communication angle. It turned out that comms between the different departments were to be succinct and dry and I lasted in the job a few months before transitioning to an international sales role, my first step towards fulfilling my PR vocation!   

I’m currently reading… I’m glad to be asked what I’m reading so as to talk about books, for a change, in publishing. As I manage a communication consultancy and a young family, I don’t have time for reading and my rate is pretty slow. However, I’m re-reading some short stories by Chekhov (one of my heroes) and I’m about to start a short story by Henry James. I wrote a long essay on James for my MA in English Literature and I recently rediscovered him, after many years, before a trip to Venice last Summer. I read ‘The Aspern Papers’ which rekindled my love for the literary master. 

My biggest career highlight in publishing has been… Since modesty is not one of my fortes (usually PR professionals aren’t the proverbial wallflower) I would tend to point out that I’ve had a wealth of PR highlights getting difficult books into the market – I deal with books written by authors usually unknown outside their professional circle and who deal with specialist topics. Having browsed through my website to refresh my memory I think that the launch of the Collins Dictionary’s latest edition is a fitting example.When I devise a campaign, I never adopt the ‘scatter gun approach’ but I think creatively about all the media who might be interested: from the specialist media to the national ones. In this instance, I targeted the publications of all professions for whom the command of the language is of particular importance from lawyers to academics via marketers. They all announced the new Collins. I then pitched many features to national newspapers around new words in the Dictionary – as a result most newspapers covered it (alongside their digital editions). This campaign appears on my site here