PR ‘guru’ reportedly required by Edinburgh to boost profile

EDINBURGH is reportedly seeking a PR ‘guru’ to lead a new body charged with boosting the capital’s profile – on a salary said to be £110,000.

Says The Scotsman, headhunters have apparently been drafted in to find a chief executive for Marketing Edinburgh, which is “being formed from an existing fledgling ‘marketing alliance’ set up by the council, the city’s business tourism unit and Edinburgh’s long-running film location agency”.

Adds the paper: “A key responsibility of the chief executive will be increasing the amount of money Edinburgh spends on promoting itself, from the current figure of about £2 million a year – compared with £6.2 million spent by Manchester, £4.9 million by Glasgow, £3.4 million by Newcastle and £4.8 million by Leeds – to about £5 million.”

allmediascotland asked some of the country’s leading PR personalities a couple of key questions:

1. What’s your reaction to the story?

Angela Casey, CM Porter Novelli: “There is logic in pulling marketing agencies into one place and Edinburgh can benefit from a focus on its external marketing because tourism is an important industry for the city as well as the obvious value in inward investment and increasing our business talent pool.”

Scott Douglas, Holyood Partnership: “Cautious optimism. Edinburgh is a wonderful destination which deserves to be promoted properly. Yet these public service appointments are a magnet for media criticism. There will also have to be realistic targets and expectations. The role is most likely to work if filled by a larger than life character with professional credentials to match – by definition such candidates are outliers and hard to find.”

Martin Hunt, Tartan Silk: “As it happens I was at the launch of Marketing Edinburgh last night; I had another engagement so I had to leave early during the lengthy presentation being made by Destination Edinburgh Marketing Alliance, one of the three organisations that will be absorbed into Marketing Edinburgh. However, I am firmly in favour of the concept as there was, under the previous system far too much duplication of promotional activities.”

2. Does Edinburgh need a PR guru on such a handsome salary?

Scott Douglas, Holyrood Partnership: “This isn’t really a PR role. The new body will be responsible for all aspects of marketing and promoting the city. What really matters is that the chief executive has the business chops for the job. For this role it would help if they have a passion for Edinburgh, the ability to inspire and motivate and a flair for communication. If they tick all of those boxes, they’ll be worth every penny.”

Martin Hunt, Tartan Silk: “As a member of the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Policy Group, I firmly believe this is the way forward; however, in these difficult times I do not feel that there is any need to offer such a huge salary to entice someone to take the job. Someone has to be appointed who has a passion for Edinburgh and promoting its profile to a global audience, bringing in an outsider need not necessarily be the answer.”

Angela Casey, CM Porter Novelli: “We need someone who will bring in business to the city, so if the handsomely-paid ‘guru’ does that, he/she is worth every penny. So I might hope it will be someone good.”

3. If it was you in charge, what would you do?

Martin Hunt, Tartan Silk: “I have to say that this is a big responsibility for one person and I wonder why consideration was not given to offering the campaign to an agency and not just the larger agencies on the roster. By doing so, the council would benefit from a much broader spectrum of input, at probably half the cost.”

Angela Casey, CM Porter Novelli: “I should be visionary and focus entirely on an external audience – build a wonderful picture of our city that confirms how fabulous it is to work, visit and invest in. I should also concentrate on taking the people of Edinburgh with me, so relationships and partnerships are important. And finally, create marketing campaigns that are on the big stage beyond the city, that genuinely bring people here, not just make the current residents pleased to be here. It is a big job when you come to think of it.”

Scott Douglas, Holyrood Partnership: “I’d surround myself with hand-picked talent who’ve proven themselves in PR, marketing, advertising and promotions on traditional platforms. Then I’d check they’ve fully embraced the new digital channels. Together we’d set out exactly what would be considered success. Finally, I’d urge them to live the Edinburgh experience to the full and share it with the world.”

4. You going for the job?

Scott Douglas, Holyrood Partnership: “No. But whoever gets this job will be someone who understands that you can’t always have the best talent in-house. They’ll be in touch sooner or later.”

Angela Casey, CM Porter Novelli: “No thanks. I am happy where I am.”

Martin Hunt, Tartan Silk: “No, I will not be going for the job; Tartan Silk is doing well and we already promote Edinburgh extensively, through our campaigns.”