Business punks and radical thinking

The not-so-silent creative revolution going on north of the border

The Scots are justly proud of their creativity and innovation. Scotland is a vibrant hotbed of creative talent and punches well above its weight in creative terms in relation to its size. It’s spawned a wealth of global brands including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lipton, Hunter Wellies, Drambuie, Hendricks Gin and of course the world’s best-selling whisky, Johnnie Walker.

Exciting things are afoot with young Scottish brands too like craft brewer Brewdog whose founders are self-proclaimed ‘business punks’ and edgy design company Timorous Beasties blending the old and new.

Perhaps radical thinking is in the blood – from William Wallace to Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish people are renowned for challenging the status quo – a key requirement for creativity.

It’s one of top developer locations in the world rivalling London, Vancouver and LA and a great place to work too. According to Talent Scotland, the typical pay of a Scottish worker has risen above those in England for the first time.

Opportunities abound

take a riskFrank PR opened an office in Glasgow last year – the aptly named McFrank. “The UK PR industry is way too London-focused and misses out on a lot of the natural diversity the UK affords” said Graham Goodkind, Frank’s Founder and Chairman. “We hope that opening in Scotland proves to be a canny move and sets us apart from the other more traditional agencies out there.”

Clare Smith is Chief marketing officer for the Scottish Government. She believes that “work produced by Scottish companies and their agencies is up there with anything that comes out of London. You don’t have to be based in London to be at the heart of world-class marketing. It’s a cliché, but we really are a creative, innovative nation – past and present” (

The launch of the first PR festival, The PRofessionals, in Edinburgh is a significant development, celebrating and highlighting the importance of creativity and PR to the Scottish economy, and the need for PR agencies and in-house teams to keep upping the ante on their creative work.

The shape of the PR industrychange perspective

My day job is helping businesses (many in PR) helping their teams to do just that – through training and skills development as well as building creative confidence and making culture shifts. The PR industry broadly (the UK and beyond) is in good shape. In a study that my company Now Go Create ran last year in conjunction with the PR industry Bellwether The Holmes Report, industry confidence was higher than at any time in the previous three years. Two thirds of respondents say the creative thinking within their business is either good or inspirational. 63% of respondents say that the quality of PR campaigns has improved over the past 12 months.

Of course there are barriers, which transcend geography, including lack of time and budget as well as risk-aversion being cited as issues and the need to learn and apply more creativity thinking tools.

Opportunities in Scotland

What do you think the key issues and opportunities are to continue to build a thriving PR industry in Scotland? I’m looking forward to working with the delegates at The PRofessionals in the session on the Friday afternoon. We’ll debate and workshop the conversations that are raised during the festival, helping you to shape the future of the industry north of the border.

Claire’s workshop will round off the festival on Friday afternoon and Frank’s Graham Goodkind will be speaking at on Friday 17th June. Clare Smith will be part of the ‘PR for social good’ panel on Thursday, 16th June.


Guest blog post by Claire Bridges

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