VisitScotland’s communications team demonstrated terrific strategic alignment with the brand and reputation objectives of the organisation. The extent of staff engagement in developing the Spirit of Scotland campaign and the advocacy of the team and wider staff was particularly impressive. They are continually looking to innovate and not rest on their laurels, despite having produced a really successful and imaginative campaign. They are challenging themselves to develop it even further using social media and influencers to showcase Scotland worldwide and a product they are demonstrably passionate about. They also demonstrate a strong commitment to continual professional development and bringing on new talent.


  • British Heart Foundation
  • Financial Times
  • Irwin Mitchell
  • People’s Postcode Lottery
  • RBS


Number of staff employed – including executive / support staff – and annual public relations budget, showing areas directly under the control of the in-house team:

VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Our 25-strong PR team promotes our country and encourages economic growth. Our corporate and consumer activities have a budget of £500,000. Our Corporate Communications team comprises press and social media, internal communications and industry communications, enhancing the reputation of tourism and VisitScotland. Our Consumer PR team manages international, UK travel and lifestyle media – putting Scotland in publications such as Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller.


Business objectives and analysis of team performance against budget over the past three years:

Our focus is the reputation of VisitScotland and Scotland as a tourism destination. To do that we:

  • Communicate the added value, growth contribution and partnership opportunity that the visitor economy can bring to Scotland
  • Position Scotland as a must-visit, must-return destination in key worldwide markets
  • Position VisitScotland as a catalyst for new thinking in our USPs of marketing, quality and digital as the engine room for creating jobs and combating social exclusion.


Our recent reputation study (every two years) shows we have raised the reputation of VisitScotland by over 20% in the last ten years. (ComRes) from 2.9 to 4 (out of five). According to the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index(SM): 2016 Report for Scotland, the reputation of Scottish tourism is ranked 12th of 50 countries studied, punching above its weight. Tourism was one of only two categories to see an increase since the 2014 report. In 2016, visitor spend was at its highest level for more than a decade.


A brief overview of business / team strategy:

VisitScotland’s core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland, growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.

Our communications team plays a vital role in this ambition by:

  • Bringing the world’s media, vloggers and bloggers to Scotland so they can share their experiences globally
  • Engaging with members of the Scottish tourism industry, working with them to continually improve
  • Engaging with stakeholders to show the importance of tourism to the economy– encouraging investment and support
  • Promoting the work of, and safeguarding the reputation of, VisitScotland.


A summary of commitment to CPD and professionalism:

VisitScotland places a strong emphasis on learning and development. In the last two years, our PR team has undergone courses on crisis communications, creativity, and social media. We constantly invest in training, with nine team members holding CIPR diplomas (two with distinction) and our head of department gaining a Masters in Public Relations. We help others through internal and external mentoring. We speak ten languages and run a staff innovation group.


A summary of recent outstanding achievements:

Borders Railway:

We “borrowed” a train and took 100 journalists on the new Borders Railway, securing 100 positive articles. More than 100 tourism businesses reported getting a booking following coverage.


A quirky campaign to find a dog to promote Scotland on social media generated worldwide interest and 200 applications. George the Golden Retriever became a celebrity across over 100 media items. Video viewed 12,000 times.

Film Tourism:

Developed award-winning “Set in Scotland” guide – connecting films with locations. We also worked with STUDIOCANAL to bring the premiere of Macbeth (and star Michael Fassbender) to Edinburgh, producing a locations guide for visitors.


A press and stakeholder launch for Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design resulted in real engagement, including 21k unique page views of information and 7.3k unique page views across our dedicated toolkit. Research showed 90% awareness of the year.

Scotland Virtual Reality Launch:

In February 2017, VisitScotland launched a virtual reality app: Scotland VR, featuring state-of-the-art 360 videos of top attractions. The launch generated 50 pieces of media coverage and, after one day, there were approximately 2000 downloads.


A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget:


Our Spirit of Scotland (SOS) marketing strategy is based on global research and showcasing the unique ‘feeling’ experienced by visitors.

The Communications team was challenged to design a compelling PR campaign to stimulate interest from around the globe.

Our idea of #ScotSpirit generated huge interest in Scotland. It became our most successful social media campaign and continues to create conversations worldwide.


  • Create a global tourism movement through creative digital and PR activity
  • Raise awareness of marketing strategy nationally and internationally
  • Engage key stakeholders, including industry to get behind the campaign
  • Involve our staff and create a “spirited workforce”.


  • On the day of launch we held a photocall with Scotland’s First Minister at Edinburgh Castle with stunt rider Danny MacAskill and giant #ScotSpirit lettering
  • 30 key Instagrammers and 40 travel bloggers targeted
  • Extensive industry engagement (including toolkit and brand book)
  • Event with inspirational speakers from two charities
  • Staff engagement through staff conferences in three locations, countdown emails, intranet articles and office decoration
  • 150 media engaged in Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Munich and Hamburg
  • 20 UK and Irish media hosted in Galloway to experience the spirit in Dark Skies Park
  • Scottish actor Alan Cumming was actively engaged and used #ScotSpirit on Twitter and Instagram
  • Teaser posts on Twitter/Facebook including preview of stills/short clips from Brand Film.


Our aim was to create a “tourism movement” and featured a stakeholder event, community relations, charitable support, industry and internal communications, social media and political engagement.

We encouraged visitors and lovers of Scotland to reveal what ScotSpirit means to them.

We identified seven spirits – Warmth, Humour, Guts, Spark, Soul, Determination and Fun and used them in our activities. For example, we worked with industry and the Family Holiday Association to make available 400 free holidays to disadvantaged.


  • 300,000 uses of #ScotSpirit so far (840 a day)
  • #ScotSpirit trended #2 in the UK and in top 20 worldwide on day of launch
  • Twitter and Facebook followers both up by 52% and Instagram up by 191%
  • VisitScotland e-newsletter sign-ups increased by 81% to 2.8 million people
  • More than 66 million people viewed special ‘Spirit’ films and documentaries which star people who live and work across the country on YouTube
  • 80% of target Instagrammers and bloggers posted (600 times) within first 24 hours of launch
  • 200 pieces of media and online coverage
  • Facebook reach of 2.3m at launch
  • 50% of tourism businesses surveyed shared hashtag with customers and 69% were aware of the campaign. 75% of staff engaged with campaign and 87% of staff inspired.