People: The business diary

Above, Julie Read won serious publicity for her firm by tweeting Theo Paphitis
Above, Julie Read won serious publicity for her firm by tweeting Theo Paphitis
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NICK Freer, PR adviser to some of Scotland’s top companies including Skyscanner and, has quietly been building up a presence in the arts scene.

Already a communications adviser to the British Council on cultural activities around the Edinburgh festivals and Commonwealth Games, Nick Freer has added Scotland’s first photography festival, Retina, to his client list.

Sipping cocktails at the Assembly Rooms last week in the company of Danish former supermodel Helena Christensen and Glasgow-born portrait photographer, Rankin – who were both exhibiting recent work – Freer seemed rather content in a new scene.

“While I’m a big fan of AGMs and trading updates, I could get used to this,” he said.

Retina was founded earlier this year by Edinburgh-based technology entrepreneur Martin Mutch and curated by Anna Freemantle, director of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival.

New Games sport: Juggling

Jane Robertson must have thought she had her day well planned last Thursday until the phones in her office at Glasgow cloud hosting firm Iomart began ringing. Merger offers were doing the rounds and as communications officer she had to deal with all the inquiries throughout the day.

That was all very well, but she was soon in a race of her own. She had signed up as a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games and was about to start her night shift as more calls came in. It meant sending analysts’ notes over her mobile phone from inside one of the Games tents while getting ready to handle questions from the sports media.

A bird in the hand…

Julie Read, the owner of Midlothian-based education company Portfolio Oomph, can testify to the power of social media.

Read tweeted Theo Paphitis, an erstwhile star of BBC2’s Dragons’ Den series, during the recent Small Business Sunday initiative. The high-profile entrepreneur then retweeted her message to his 435,000-plus followers, triggering hundreds of additional followers for Read’s business – an online hub that specialises in supporting students applying to art college.

It also led to a profile on a new website – – that is exclusive to Small Business Sunday winners.

Read said: “It’s been tough trying to raise our profile, and Theo has recognised our hard work and helped spread the word about what we do to his following.”

McEwan relaxes at last

Royal Bank of Scotland boss Ross McEwan probably deserved some relaxation after the bank produced much better six-monthly profits last Friday than markets expected.

He was planning to relax at the weekend with a trip to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. On the agenda: a visit to the velodrome on Saturday, and the athletics on Sunday. Two RBS staffers got a treat as well, with the boss taking along one (un-named) star employee with him to the Games on each of those days.

Asked if UKFI, which monitors the government’s stake in RBS, would be pleased with RBS’s revving up of profitability, the New Zealander joked to reporters: “They owe me a beer.”