Find out how to weatherproof your reputation, with help from PR experts

by Scott Douglas

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Come snow, rain or shine, the forecast is always for a sunny outlook with this PR agency

Photo of adverse snowy weather, as part of article about weather-related PR campaigns in Scotland

WE CONSIDER each media release, blog post and social media update we send into the world as precious little PR snowflake. Why? Because each of them is unique and we like them to settle gently into just the right place.

Of course, a blizzard of media activity by our Edinburgh PR agency isn’t going to result in burst water pipes, power outages or motorway chaos. We’ve got Scotland’s real and unpredictable climate to take care of that.

That said, the winter of 2014-15 has been pretty gentle on us – though try telling that to the Rangers and Hearts fans whose Ibrox match was snowed off, or to the thousands of Western Isles families left without power after high winds blew down lines.

We may shake our heads that Scots find so much weather related to chat about, but it really does affect every aspect of our lives.  From access to essentials like drinking water and power, to what clothes should be packed for a weekend away when you don’t know whether to expect wind, rain, bright sunshine – or a mix of them all.

While the freezing conditions and snow seem to be behind us for the moment, forecasters say they can’t be sure what wet, wild, windy, whiteouts may yet still be in store, courtesy of the next polar vortex or weather bomb.

Such a rollercoaster, unpredictable Scottish climate can bring businesses a host of headaches and PR challenges – as well as a whole range of public relations opportunities. Here are just a few.


CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS – PR expertise when it’s most needed

SAVVY businesses and organisations are geared up for the communications trials that weather-related problems can create.

The best prepared will have well-rehearsed crisis communications plans ready to kick in when needed. Like our client, Scottish Water, which faced a perfect storm during the “Snowmageddon” winter of 2010/11.

The Scotland-wide freeze left thousands of homes without water when domestic pipes and some public water mains froze solid. As a result, the national water utility faced unprecedented demand for public and media information.

We were drafted in to support Scottish Water’s in-house PR staff. We joined the incident team which spent days during the festive holidays coordinating one of Scottish Water’s biggest ever information exercises. The nationally-owned water provider was widely praised for its response.

However, our role didn’t stop there.

We were commissioned to plan, film, edit and produce a series of advice videos which formed the centrepiece of Scottish Water’s “Warm Pipes” web resource.

During the freeze thousands of customers were referred to the online guides on locating a stop valve and how to insulate pipes – and they are still valuable resources which continue to deliver value many years later. At one point the videos racked up well over 16,000 views between them, before being removed and reuploaded. Those videos are embedded below. Scroll past for the rest of this post.

That winter was also the year when Scottish Water fully realised the vital role social media would play in such instances. As a result, our director Scott Douglas was asked to devise and deliver an in-depth social media training sessions to 25 managers and team leaders in Scottish Water’s Customer Contact Centre.

Chris Wallace, Scottish Water’s Director of Communications, said: “The team at Holyrood PR have proved their importance to us in terms of crisis support time after time since Scottish Water was formed. Their recent contribution during the big freeze shows exactly why they are such an invaluable addition to our communication team.”


GETTING HEARD – how public relations cuts through the noise

Edinburgh PR photography of snow ploughsHOW would your business like to have the kind of voice that Government ministers listened to? The kind of clout that had those ministers phone you directly for advice on the issues of most importance to your sector?

During the “Snowmageddon” winter of 2010/11 Eagle Couriers director Jerry Stewart stepped up to fight the corner of fed-up motorists – and thanks to public relations his voice was heard in the corridors of power, catching the attention of Scotland’s transport minister.

Here’s how that happened.

Matters came to a head when hundreds of car users were stranded on the M8 overnight. It was a low point which led to the departure of Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson, who was replaced by Keith Brown. However soon after Mr Brown took up office, the M8 was closed again for four hours because of black ice. Jerry was among road users disgusted that the predicted freeze was not better prepared for.

Since we have spent many years as the Scottish public relations agency for Eagle Couriers we have established Jerry as a trusted and credible expert voice in the transportation sector. So, when we channeled Jerry’s anger into a media release, it resulted in front page coverage in The Scotsman, with a two page spread inside.

But it didn’t stop there – that coverage reached the highest offices of the land and led to a rattled Mr Brown contacting Jerry directly to seek his expert advice. With our unrivalled PR expertise and eye for a story, we quickly created a further media release – and news of Jerry’s ministerial call up featured in newspapers, TV and websites.

Weather related PR success for Eagle Couriers

You can follow the full timeline here, and see each media release and the coverage it generated.:

ONE – Media release featuring Jerry’s criticism of new Transport Minister Keith Brown

TWO – Results in extensive coverage in The Scotsman, read by political and business influencers

THREE – The rattled Minister reaches out to Jerry – and we produce a second media release

FOUR – News of Jerry’s ministerial call up earns national headlines.

We’ve been busy more recently helping Jerry hold the Scottish Government to account when problems emerged on the M8 again during a snowfall in December 2014.

Once more we worked with Jerry to capture his thoughts in a chilling message to new transport minister Derek Mackay. Once again, that resulted in spectacular media coverage, seeing Jerry featured on national TV and in the nation’s press.



A RAY OF SUNSHINE – bright outlook for sales with PR support

Edinburgh PR agency use photograph to get media coverage for major UK home builder

IT’S NOT  just the bad weather which creates PR opportunities.

During the scorching summer of 2014 we repeatedly used the weather to great effect to earn valuable, positive media coverage for CALA Homes (East).

The company is always keen to promote Happy Buyers – and we realised they don’t come much happier than the Finaly family in Livingston, West Lothian.

They were so pleased with their brand new property, they ditched plans for a two week summer holiday in Spain and decided to have a staycation instead.

In our hands this was turned into story gold – with enthusiastic quotes from the family backed up with a colourful and eye catching photoshoot.

Public relations agency in Scotland Holyrood PR in Edinburgh, works wiith CALA HomesThe results of this were high impact headlines in Scotland’s biggest Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Mail, which is read by around 900,000 Scots every weekend. The coverage also appearead on the newspaper’s website, which is read around the world. Check out the full round up of the coverage .

Original release –

Coverage –

Pic Gallery –

Elsewhere we also helped CALA Homes score sizzling media results when it won a housebuilding industry award for its showhome at its Gilsland Grange development in North Berwick, which was designed to evoke the spirit of a Great British summer day out a the beach.

We used our story spotting and storytelling skills to focus on the ‘Raspberry Ripple’ ice cream theme of the showhome, to celebrate it’s location in one of Scotland’s most celebrated coastal communities – a guaranteed media eye catcher as the country basked in a spectacularly warm summer (read the original media release, including an interview with the interior designer, for yourself).

The results in the media were amazing, earning substantial coverage in all three of Scotland’s most influential quality newspapers and getting the  luxury properties in front of exactly the right demographic across the length and breadth of Scotland – The Herald covering Glasgow and the west; The Scotsman serving Edinburgh and  the east; and the Press & Journal covering Aberdeen and the north.

Children had great fun getting their free ice cream thanks to CALA Homes.But the summer-themed success story didn’t stop there. As part of the final push to sell the last few remaining homes at Gilsland Grange, we build on all of this media success by dreaming up an ice cream giveaway to attract more house hunters to visit the development and see it for themselves.

We arranged for a traditional ice cream cart to set up for the weekend at Gilsland Grange, handing out free ice creams to show home visitors. Not only did that generate media coverage, but it helped drive major numbers of additional visitors to Gilsland Grange – helping ensure all of the properties were sold ahead of schedule.

And just to make sure that all the ice cream themed media activity had a cherry on top, we also arranged a PR photo shoot of the ice cream giveaway, ensuring CALA Homes had eye catching images to share on social media. Be sure to check out the full gallery of images.


So there you have it – three very different clients with three very different weather related PR challenges or opportunities. In each case, public relations services from Holyrood PR in Edinburgh helped deliver the best possible outcome.

Find out how our public relations services can benefit your business

Come rain, hail or shine the expert PR team at our Edinburgh public relations agency are working cleverly and creatively to deliver the best possible results to our varied clients.

If you’d like to find out how public relations could help your business, then we’d love to speak with  you. We’re a chatty bunch and can be contacted on 0131 561 2244 or fill in the simple form below and we’ll get straight back to you.


Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

Scott Douglas

Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood PR, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.

View Scott's Profile

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