Scotland the country, Scotland the village

It’s true what they say, Scotland may have 6,160 miles of coast line, but everyone knows everyone in PR and business once they get to a certain level.

People who live and work outwith Scotland will not understand the size of Scotland. I know this from experience. I also know Scotland is often referred to as a region and we have ‘local’ press. No, actually, we have national press and regional/local press. We have Scottish national and UK national press.

To travel to Aberdeen from Glasgow, for a meeting, will take around 2.5 – 3 hours one way on the train. Therefore around 6 hours from city centre to city centre, not including travel before and after or the meeting duration. It’s a whole day out of the office.

However, people like me have to options. Either do the travel and work yourself or work with a like-minded, trusted professional who already lives and works in the area. For me, it depends on the type of work and the necessity to either have a major presence and whether or not it’s a short project or a longer-term piece of work.

PR has dramatically changed in the way it delivers strategy and it’s a much more clever and informed strategic function than ever before.

The changes that have taken place in Scottish public relations in recent years span mostly in the public affairs arena, with the additional Scottish political powers. Since the recession, there have been public sector cuts across the board.

Scotland has its own voting, its own education system, its own laws and its own Parliament. In addition to MPs and MEPs we have MSPs.

The media has seen significant changes, mostly redundancies and drops in circulation, and the relationships we have built with journalists probably mean more now than ever. Our content is newsworthy, it’s well written and we’re feeding a platform which no longer allows real journalism due to lack of resources and no budget.

Independent PR practitioners are now ‘happening’ in a bigger way than before. I see a massive opportunity for independent practitioners to collaborate, work in packs and I find it refreshing that 24 have already subscribed to an informal independent practitioner network I kicked off in September. The idea is that it will be self-run, like many communities, but there will be occasions to organise an event or float an idea for contribution.

An opportunity exists for an organisation like the CIPR to conduct research into the PR landscape in Scotland and have a wider vision of scoping out opportunities for the industry to expand, internationalise and stand on its own two feet as a country with a credible and thriving industry.

It may be that partnerships already exist with the likes of VisitScotland and SCDI that could assist with international opportunities, but for our industry to grow, there needs to be supporting evidence and assistance offered to boost the industry.

It’s frustrating when organisations offer start-up and growth grants for website and digital but they never take into account the huge opportunity with public relations.

PR in Scotland has an opportunity to grow, internationalise and stand on its own two feet. Its up to PR practitioners to help make that happen.

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