BBC Coverage Drives Bute Forest Buyout

The Real Challenge

In early 2010, the Islanders of Bute were presented with a unique opportunity to launch a community buy-out bid for a 1,700 acre forest at the north end of the island.

To make the bid legitimate at least 50% of the 5,000 registered voters on Bute needed to participate in the ballot and at least half of them needed to vote in favour. It would be the largest ever  ballot in Scotland on a community buy-out under the Land reform Act. The challenge was to inform and motivate 2,600 people to vote in a matter of 4 weeks.

Real PR was asked to devise a media relations strategy to get the maximum publicity for the story, particularly in broadcast media, which campaigners felt would give the Islanders a sense of the importance of the vote.

Real’s Solutions

On the basis that the BBC often leads the news agenda, Real PR approached BBC Scotland and offered the story on an exclusive basis. Timing was critical and Real PR negotiated for the story to run three days prior to the ballot closing giving the BBC to spend a full day filming and recording. Real PR was responsible for providing local spokespeople and arranging locations.

The additional time allowed the BBC to prepare broadcast packages of high quality content which increased the potential for multiple airings.

Real Activity

The exclusivity secured coverage across all outlets on BBC Scotland including TV and radio news and online. It was the lead story online until lunchtime and was aired on all radio and TV news programmes throughout the day. The story was also picked up by the BBC nationally resulting in interviews on Radio 4’s Today programme and Radio 5 Live.

As soon as the story appeared on the web-site, it was picked up by the national press resulting in coverage the following day in most Scottish titles and The Times, The Guardian and The Observer

It was also covered by competing media in Scotland as soon as it went live, resulting in news coverage across independent TV and radio in Scotland.

Real Results

52% of the electoral register voted with 97% voting in favour of the buy-out.

For more information about the buy-out visit the Bute Forest website.

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