CAMPAIGNS: TA unit battles for survival - Lobbying

In October, the London Scottish Regiment found itself on a list of Territorial Army infantry units to be axed under the Strategic Defence Review. Other proposals could have seen it reduced to a 30-man platoon.

In October, the London Scottish Regiment found itself on a list of

Territorial Army infantry units to be axed under the Strategic Defence

Review. Other proposals could have seen it reduced to a 30-man

platoon.



London Scottish is one of four regiments within the London Regiment

which was restructured under the previous Government’s defence cuts in

1993 to comprise company-sized regiments (120 men). This was held up as

a model of how to implement cost-cutting measures while retaining the

traditions and cap-badges of different regiments.



Objectives



To raise the profile of the regiment and its heritage and make the issue

of its closure ’too prickly’ to confirm.



Tactics



Greenwood Tighe was brought in to draw up a communications strategy and

handle media and electronic communications in support of the

regiment.



The campaign began via a web site which launched on 26 October outlining

that the London Scottish was facing its most important battle yet.



The site urged supporters to write to MPs, Defence Secretary George

Robertson and Tony Blair and key points to be made were listed. The site

also featured a regimental history and a facility for visitors to e-mail

their support.



Michael Evans, defence editor of the Times, was offered an exclusive

briefing about the fight for survival using the internet.



’We decided to target one influential publication that had appeared

fairly sympathetic to our cause and we thought that the people who would

make the decision about cuts would be more likely to read the Times,’

said Adam Roscoe, managing director of Greenwood Tighe, who managed the

campaign along with Colonel Holliday.



Peter Brooke, the Conservative MP for Westminster - whose constituency

houses the Regimental HQ - requested a briefing in advance of a debate

in the House of Commons on the Strategic Defence Review. To maintain

consistency, his briefing was similar to that given to the Times.



The agency also exploited unexpected opportunities. The French

Government awarded the Legion d’Honneur to all surviving soldiers of

World War I one of whom was Harold Judd - a 100-year-old former member

of the London Scottish and a real enthusiast for the campaign. He was

presented with his award on 31 October at the Regimental HQ in

Horseferry Road



Results



The Times ran a story on 2 November which carried the key messages and

Harold Judd travelled to Flanders where he was presented to the Queen on

Remembrance Day. Wearing his cap badge, Harold appeared in all major

national newspapers and on television.



The web site received 1,200 hits in its first three days and letters to

the Times kept the debate running.



Although there were fears right up until the restructuring was announced

on 17 November that the regiment would be cut, the London Scottish did

emerge unscathed from the SDR.



Verdict



The multi-media element effectively supported and fed an intensive

lobbying and letter-writing campaign. The profile of Harold Judd and the

intervention of Peter Brooke created a positive mix of support and

profile at the critical time in the SDR. Although it is difficult to

argue cause and effect, as infantry regiments were the main targets for

cuts, in that respect the campaign can be judged a success.



Client: The London Scottish Regiment

PR team: Honorary Colonel Richard Holliday and Greenwood Tighe PR

Campaign: To save the regiment from closure

Timescale: 26 October - 18 November 1998

Budget: Approximately pounds 5,000



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