PR Experts Milk the Media for Food and Drink Client

by Chris Fairbairn

Monday, October 24th, 2016

An amazing tale of country-sceptic cows and a lesson in milking the media (and cow-based puns)

Mackie's of Scotland Country Music Cow Experiment PR in ScotlandTHINK of Mackie’s of Scotland and you likely conjure up images of delectably smooth ice cream and a friendly Scottish brand.

You may even be aware of the firm’s pioneering work with renewables, or its recent move into chocolate-making.

However, it’s less likely you knew much about the computerised milking robots improving the quality of life to its much-loved dairy herd.

So we came up with a rather clever  idea – a real stonker that pushed the boundaries and challenged perceptions of a dairy farm, while also  earning bucketloads of positive media coverage for Mackie’s of Scotland. Did it work? Better than we could ever have hoped for, generating enormous amounts of quality coverage.

Scottish PR agency country cow music experiment Mackie's of ScotlandFind out how media coverage about Mackie’s music-loving cows reached a potential audience of  3.5 million people, with national, local, broadcast and trade media all milking the story  


The success was more than just a flurry of headlines – the coverage provoked massive coo-riosity, while subtly demonstrating some of Mackie’s core messaging about  the care for its herd and conditions on the wholesome family farm that is home to the company’s much-loved products.

What does this mean for a business like yours?  It shows how a commitment to quality and customer service allied with an eye for a quirky story can turn into a blockbusting, positive message that can add to your bottom line, while helping to build a happier and more productive workplace. Here’s how we  achieved this success with Mackie’s:

1) The intro: The ‘Newton’s apple’ moment

Mackie's of Scotland PR Experts Edinburgh After learning that our client had signed up to sponsor a country music festival, we had a light-bulb moment. That resulted in us  persuading our client, Mackie’s of Scotland, to play country music to 45 cows in its famous milking herd…for an entire fortnight.

It came after we heard of an experiment several years ago which suggested that playing the soothing sounds of classical music to cows woul help increase the milk yield.

So, as soon as we  learned Mackie’s was to be lead sponsor of a North East country music festival, we knew it was time to take that experiment to the next level.

2) The bridge: Reasoning and Planning

Following a team visit earlier in the year to Mackie’s highly impressive family farm, taking in the self-milking high-tech robots that track and tally each cow’s milk yield, the wacky test became truly possible and credible.

Ever since that visit we’d been desperate to share our own amazement, knowing that it could put Mackie’s in front of a new set of media titles: Animal health and husbandry, while also appealing to mainstream media and highlighting a further Mackie’s virtue to a broad range of the population.

And that’s beyond it also being great fun and an ideal medium for spreading the word of its sponsorship of Doricana.

So there you have it – the two week hooting-tooting experiment was born.


Once the office got its cow/music puns off its collective chest (Beefy Clyro, CowBell and Sebastian anyone?) we put our creative plan into action, instinctively understanding the potential the concept had.

It would certainly seem to have worked. As a result, the experiment has so far generated 36 items of coverage, reaching 3.5 million people.

Yet it was no fluke. We first split the story into a pre and post results, which by using smart storytelling effectively doubled the coverage potential.

The first step was to devise and send out a tempting pre-results package – this included a video by our in-house expert (trust us it is worth a watch), pro photos and a press release before the experiment had come to its end.

We worked with a close contact at the trusted local paper, the Aberdeen Evening Express, getting him out to see the experiment for himself. The outcome – an epic front page splash and a two page feature, with not one but two highly social media friendly online articles mentioning our country coo experiment.

We didn’t stop there. The story was followed up with four separate mentions in the Sun, a main story and teaser, with subsequent editions featuring comments on the story by columnists Martin Geissler and Tam Cowan.

A feature in the Scotland on Sunday and The Sunday Post followed, with the news spreading across farming news and local press quicker than Earl Scruggs’ banjo picking.

It ain’t all about printed press either – Radio Scotland wanted to know more and featured the story on the John Beattie show. Quite impressively, they also made and shared their own video – racking up 4.9K views on facebook adding to the 8.9K views of the original video produced by us, on Mackie’s facebook page.

4) The catchy chorus: So the cows produced less milk?

Colin Clyne for Mackies PR photography by Edinburgh PR expertsAs you can perhaps imagine, we waited anxiously for the results, not knowing what the outcome would be.

With each cow’s yield measured by the high-tech milking system we knew it would be telling, but would the cows be affected in the least by a bit of country and western?

Well the answer was a quite comprehensive yes – with all but one superfan producing less milk, despite being significantly more active during the experiment.

Not quite the results we’d originally hoped for, but we’re nothing if not committed.

As a result of our careful post-results send out, we ensured the project’s staggering fifth mention in The Scottish Sun, along with further tabloid readers in The Daily Mail and Daily Express, a further front page in The HeraldThe Courier and Aberdeen Evening Express, along with a mention on Capital’s breakfast show.

Since then, the initial send out the story even made the front cover of the SFU Newsletter, featuring mocked-up headphone-wearing cows and a feature in Over The Counter – an important animal welfare magazine.

5) The memorable outro – Fun, Frolics and the Fundamentals

There is no denying it. This was a lot of fun, involving good numbers of the Mackie’s team and a lot of laughs in the office and with our client.

However, while it highlights our creativity it also contains a powerful message.

At Holyrood PR we are passionate about telling your stories to the world. By finding a fun, unusual tale we were able to apply our media knowledge and reach out to a huge audience – providing a glimpse into the committed and caring work of the Mackie’s team – as it looks to grow its market share.

We knew from experience that this story could be a mainstream news winner – but we also ensured by getting it across a hugely varied media we presented new positive insight about this Scottish brand into the reach of a new potential audience.

We can dig out great stories for your business

Mackie’s of Scotland may be a familiar name, becoming even more visible in the press by working with Holyrood PR – however our storytelling skills and creativity can help your business too.

If you’re interested, get in touch with us using the below form, or if you prefer a chat, reach us on 0131 561 2244

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