Public Sector: Scottish quango seeks help

Development body criticised for calling in PR assistance.

A Scottish quango is preparing to pay up to £550,000 to PR agencies to help it attract investment into Scotland.

The brief - issued by Scottish Development International (SDI) - calls for two full-service comms agencies to handle PR and media relations in EMEA and Asia-Pacific. The overall fees are worth between £390,000 and £550,000.

The contract will raise eyebrows in the current economic climate and Media House International executive chairman Jack Irvine said the brief could be 'throwing good money after bad'.

The two-agency framework will consist of one for Asia Pacific and one for EMEA. The framework will be for one year with an optional maximum one-year extension.

Campaign messaging is outlined in the brief, including: 'Scotland has a competitive advantage in key industries including life sciences, education, energy, financial and business services, food and drink, tourism, digital media, ICT and electronic technologies.'

The brief lists the audience as senior decision-makers within high growth Scottish companies with the potential to trade overseas.

The Asia Pacific agency is expected to have a presence in Greater China, Japan, India, Korea, South East Asia and Australia, and the brief is worth £230,000 to £290,000.

The EMEA agency is expected to have a presence in England, France, Germany, Middle East, the Nordics and Russia. The brief is worth £160,000 to £260,000.

HOW I SEE IT - JACK IRVINE, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, MEDIA HOUSE INTERNATIONAL

The Scottish Development International contracts bear scrutiny. First of all we have to ask if the previous PR attempts in these geographies were successful. There's a major recession, meaningful inward investment to Scotland is pathetic and exports must be hurting. One could argue SDI is throwing good money after bad. Equally one could ask what the internal comms people are doing. It's not difficult to manage foreign projects from the UK; I'm active in three countries at the moment.

The other advantage of running the SDI PR internally would be in-depth knowledge of the product. With the big quangos, common sense goes out the window.

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