Corporate PR in Scotland - A Business Resilience Case Study

by Chris Fairbairn

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Impressive PR power chords highlighted the problem of metal theft (Complete with help from a couple of headbangers)

Snapshot Copper ThievesTHINK OF ‘Heavy Metal’ and it is more than likely it conjures up an image of hairspray, power chords and impossibly tight trousers.

But we’re not here to talk about your favourite 70’s head bangers or 80s poodle rockers – rather the grubby world of metal theft.

It turns out this is a growing problem with an immediate, negative impact on communities and businesses at the hands of organised thieves, hunting for any morsel of metal with resale value. Theives had been hunting for and steeling construction materials including copper wiring, stainless steel tubing, even satelites receivers. These daring capers have cost both construction comapnies and private citizens more than a pretty penny. You can do cold forging from to shape the metal any way you want.

So along with our client, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), we struck a PR power chord, putting metal theft centre stage in the national media – with a worthy support act from three blundering thieves, who came close to being electrocuted while stealing metal worth just a few hundred pounds.

The results? At least 43 significant items of media coverage, bringing the issue to the attention of a huge audience – with a hefty portion of the coverage down to the unbelievable antics of a couple of real headbangers!

If your business could use that kind of valuable, positive media exposure, read on to find out how we did it:

1 – Planning the gig

 Police across Scotland had already mounted a major blitz, dubbed “Operation Scandium” which involved stopping thousands of vehicles to advise and inform drivers of changes to metal trading legislation.

It attracted a lot of media coverage, which gave us confidence this was an issued the public would be interested in learning more about – if the messages could be delivered in an interesting and engaging way.

Our involvement was thanks to our client, SBRC, which was coordinating an important summit, to be held in Cambuslang, aimed at businesses, law enforcement, academics likely to be affected by metal theft.

It was intended to bring together industry experts and enforcement agencies to highlight the damage that metal theft has caused to Scottish businesses and communities. Our job was to help spread the word.

2 – Setting the stage

An initial press release was issued to build a ‘platform’ – highlighting the event and reawakening the press and public’s awareness of the important subject.

This achieved coverage in the National and across major titles in the influential construction press – an industry seriously affected by the crime.

Then came the follow up, focusing directly on the impact that a change to Scottish Government legislation, prohibiting scrap metal dealers from accepting cash payments, would have on tackling the crime and increasing traceability.

This bid to tighten the rules of the scrap metal trade provided a new weapon for Holyrood PR to draw focus to the campaign and allowed us notable further coverage in the National and to reinforcing the messages with key business and construction press.

3 – Delivering Some ‘Shocking’ Context

The culmination of the Metal Theft Summit PR activity came when we used key information from SP Energy Network’s presentation, highlighting the scale of metal theft with shocking revelations:

  • Three fatalities and more than 20 arrests as consequence of raids
  • A total of 1212 reported metal theft attacks – effectively one a day since 2011
  • A subsequent bill of £18 million for taxpayers across the UK

We continued to work the story hard and used our writing to demonstrate not just the economical impact of metal but also the risk to human safety.

Exploring all avenues for potential story growth we traced down some usable CCTV footage of an attempted copper cable theft at an electricity substation, with a trio of blundering burglars dicing with death for a few pounds and pence.

This helped us catapult this story into the focus of national media both in print and online. It featured in the Times, the Herald and the National, as well as online on STV, Mail Online and multiple mentions on BBC Scotland, both TV and Radio. The story was also picked up a  – along with many of Scotland’s key weekly newspaper titles spanning the whole of the country – from Carluke to Kincardineshire and from Falkirk to Stornoway.


Heavy METAL THEFTMetal: Take a look at exactly what our PR agency does for our super smart clients.
We secured some fantastic coverage for the SBRC and their fight against Metal Theft creating an enormous 5.8 million opportunities to see (OTS) their messages. Check out our round up of all the coverage we managed to secure for them.


This kind of  massive reach and awareness building is vital in educating as many people as possible to the true cost of metal theft in Scotland. In fact, as a result of the massive reach of the PR campaign, a written parliamentary motion has been submitted acknowledging the work of the SBRC in their drive to tackle metal theft.

In short, the dedicated PR storytelling gave the Metal Theft Summit the kind of social impact that previously had only be dreamed of, while also giving a massive boost to the staff of the SBRC, by highlighting the beneficial impact of the SBRC.their work.

Skilful PR communicated a worthy story in a way that was engaging to a wider audience and accessible to both industry relevant and national media outlets.

And all achieved without a single pair of spandex leggings in sight.


Good storytelling positively transforms businesses – boosting profits and making them more attractive places to work.

Our clients know only too well how positive media coverage brings in new business and helps motivate staff. Isn’t it time your business discovered the benefits of having your stories told to the world?

We’d love the chance to discuss what is possible for your business. To arrange a meeting simply phone us on 0131 561 2244 or fill in the basic form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you.

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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