Racy Partnership Helps Harlequin Remain Competitive: A Q&A with Vice President of Public Relations Katherine Orr
Harlequin always tries to stay one step—or shall we say, one lap—ahead of the competition. The world’s largest series romance novel and women’s fiction publisher now is experiencing success with one of its recent partnerships—a seemingly unlikely relationship with NASCAR. Through a series of race-themed romance novels, the Toronto-based publisher has attempted to reach the approximately 40 percent of NASCAR’s fan base who are women. Based on fan reaction and sales, the two companies now have further expanded their relationship this year to additional titles.
Katherine Orr, vice president of Harlequin’s public relations, talks with Book Business Extra about how the prolific publisher continues to create opportunities to put its brand in front of audiences in new and unprecedented ways.
Extra: Can you tell me a little about the NASCAR partnership?
Katherine Orr: One of our authors wrote a story about racing, and it was a big hit. We thought, “Well, let’s just call up NASCAR.” And they were very receptive. With NASCAR, we embraced an opportunity by providing a wonderful and complementary and relevant entertainment option for over 30 million women race fans. These books are selling really well.
Extra: Harlequin is always on the move and in the headlines with new innovative partnerships. What advice would you offer to other publishers about always keeping ahead of the competition?
Orr: We keep aware of market trends and look for opportunities to learn. We enter some of our partnerships with no financial expectations, but with the goal of learning where and how to be in two years. … We’re like any other marketing company. People think of pretty wacky stuff that doesn’t always fly. We’ve tried reality TV. But in the end, our products are books. So we have to figure out what people want to read and what’s the best way to put it in their hands.