Taxi challenger’s rough ride in the headlines sees it flagging down a PR expert to help

by Scott Douglas

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Find out how you can get the public relations success Uber dreams of – on a fraction of the budget

A female passenger using the Uber app in the back of an Uber car YOU’VE maybe heard of Uber, the on demand car service which has traditional taxi firms on the back foot?

If not, it’s just a matter of time before the name wriggles into your lugholes and settles in your brain, much the way the names Google, Amazon and Twitter have done.

Just like those other online giants, Uber is a product of the digital age. Put simply it’s a mobile app which allows users to book a ride from “crowdsourced” drivers who have signed up.

It’s already worth billions and just a few years after being founded in San Francisco is now operating in 55 countries. Though it’s not yet in Scotland, both Edinburgh and Glasgow are likely to follow Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, where it already operates.

An Uber customer uses the Uber app on a mobile phoneNow Uber is about to launch a PR blitz to turn its web-friendly name into a relentless ear worm, with the aim of transforming it into an instantly-recognisable, household name.

All very well for a Silicon Valley start-up valued at billions and operating in 300 cities worldwide. But that kind of PR storytelling ambition is an unachievable dreamland for ordinary Scottish businesses, right?

Wrong. Not every business can become a household name, yet almost any company can follow the same PR blueprint that Uber has mapped out and rack up fast, far-reaching and business-focused results.

tech firm Uber advertised on LinkedIn for an Editorial DirectorWhat’s more, we can use Uber’s own job ad to prove it.

Despite being a poster child for disruptive, digital upstarts, Uber’s recruitment advert to find someone to lead their massive PR push is looking for some very traditional skills and here we explain how you can easily get those same skills and put them to work for your business.

So just what is Uber looking for – and how can you get something similar?


WHAT UBER WANTS: True to form for a tech darling, the Uber job ad – for the position of Editorial Director – was posted on LinkedIn and read:  “We’re looking for an experienced, creative and dynamic content strategist to join our team and lead the development of owned content to tell the Uber story.”

HOW YOU CAN GET IT: Do your research into Scotland’s main PR agencies and find two or three which seem the most likely fit with you and your company – then contact them to tell them what you’re looking for.
Public relations agencies come in all shapes and sizes and there’s something for most budgets. Senior people in those PR agencies will have been performing ‘Editorial Director’ type duties for years.
One thing’s for sure, the best Scottish agencies (including the team here at Holyrood PR in Edinburgh) offer “experienced, creative and dynamic content strategists” who will be dedicated to telling your business story.

If you’re completely new to this, check out our PR Starter guide – a simple four part guide telling giving you the inside track on choosing and using PR services


WHAT UBER WANTS: One of the main tasks listed for Uber’s new Editorial Director will be to “Lead the creation of branded content across media, including but not limited to digital, video and print.”

HOW YOU CAN GET IT: Most PR agencies will be able to deliver you traditional media coverage.
But you’ll have to scratch a wee bit deeper to ensure they creativity in every aspect of public relations, cleverly using photography and video while cutting through on social media.
It’s an approach which involves hard graft, but delivers the greatest possible value. In fact, when it is done properly you will enjoy multiple bites of the cherry with every story.
As well as good old-fashioned media relations, seek out a PR agency which has organised blogger events, has proven it understands social media, and can deliver business video as well as  broadcast coverage.

If you’re interested in finding more, we’ve got other helpful guides you can check out, inlcuding Picture Perfect – gives you practical advice, tips and case studies on how to use photography to get your messages out.

Video Services – see examples of how other businesses have used PR to tell their stories in video, whether celebrating anniversaries, appealing for crowd funding or promoting services.


WHAT UBER WANTS: The best stories involve real people, places and situations that anybody can identify with.
So it’s understandable Uber is looking for a successful candidate who will “focus on storytelling that brings the stories of riders, drivers, cities and Uber to life in inspiring, compelling and persuasive ways.”

HOW YOU CAN GET IT: Great news for your business is that PR agencies are dedicated to both the art and science of storytelling.
The art is being able to dig out the human interest stories that no-one else spots.
The science is in making sure the positive business results of telling those stories can be Proper PR measurement and evaluation.
And success isn’t limited only to hip, trendy consumer brands (like Uber).
Nope, we do it successfully for unglamorous companies in engineering, logistics who had given up all hope of finding PR success.

To see how even unpromising material can be “brought to life in inspiring, compelling and persuasive ways”, check out Sexy PR – a simple guide with case studies that shows exactly what is possible


A glamorous young couple being dropped off by an Uber driverSo there you have it. To date Uber hasn’t had the smoothest of rides in the headlines – but it seems determined to change that by investing massively in telling its positive business stories.

Maybe the Uber name will blip on your radar when the app and service finally lands in Edinburgh or Glasgow, at which point it’s likely to face the same loud and noisy protests from traditional taxi drivers as it has in London. There black cabs have blockaded streets, while established firms have lobbied the Government to halt Uber’s rise.

Or maybe the name will only register with you after someone you know has an experience – good or bad – with a service which has divided opinion, not least because critics argue that its use of unlicensed, “sharing economy” drivers is unsafe and illegal. Meanwhile fans insist it is the ultimate in on-demand convenience.

Most likely though is that you are going to become familiar with the name because Uber now plans to use every communication channel available to get attention by sharing positive stories about the service, its drivers and its customers.

Maybe it’s time you thought about doing something similar.

Flag down a public relations expert from Holyrood PR to give your reputation a lift

The team at Holyrood PR are a passionate bunch and we firmly believe that stories are at the heart of successful businesses. We believe that when those stories are told well to the right audiences it helps businesses become more profitable while making them better places to work.

Across our website you’ll find that we practice exactly what we preach – telling the stories of our clients and our own business every day,  in words, pictures and video, across print, broadcast and social media.

If you’d like to find out how our range of PR services can help you build a more profitable and rewarding business, then give us a call on 0131 561 2244, or get in touch by filling out 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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