PR firms to pitch for referendum contract

Mary Pitcaithly will oversee the referendum count. Picture: Lisa FergusonMary Pitcaithly will oversee the referendum count. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Mary Pitcaithly will oversee the referendum count. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
PUBLIC relations companies are being invited to tender for the highly-prized job of handling the Scottish referendum.

A six-month contract managing the media communications for what is being described as “the biggest event in Scottish history in recent times” is expected to be worth up to £10,000 a month, though cost is likely to be less important than “skills, experience and understanding of the key issues”.

It will be one of the most prestigious short-term contracts ever awarded for a public sector project, but because of intense media interest from around the world there is a strong possibility that an agency from outwith Scotland could win it.

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Sources in the sector have begun speculating on which of the Scottish firms could pitch for the work, with Weber Shandwick, Grayling and the newly-formed Charlotte Street Partners among those mentioned.

Weber Shandwick and Grayling – which is also handling this year’s Ryder Cup – can each draw on an international network. Charlotte Street Partners has been set up with the express intention of operating beyond Scotland. However, this contract may come too soon for a new company with a small team.

Whoever is successful will manage a broad range of tasks to support chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly and the Electoral Management Board which will oversee the referendum process.

The winning agency will provide guidance on all issues for broadcast, print and other media in the run-up to the declaration of the result after the 18 September vote. It will mean managing the media centre, including handling accreditation.

The remit also means liaising with the suppliers of audio visual equipment and wifi and other technical aspects of the count and will include advice on specification, procurement and installation.

Pitcaithly, who is chief executive of Falkirk Council, will have the honour of making history when she declares the verdict of the poll at the Royal Highland Showground which was chosen from 25 possible venues in Edinburgh.

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