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Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has appointed Perceptive Communicators to handle its external communications.

The one -year contract, which Perceptive won following a competitive tender against four other agencies, includes both PR and public affairs.

The Glasgow-based agency will help CSIC highlight the resources and opportunities available to all construction firms in Scotland via its experienced business partnership team and £2 million innovation factory at Hamilton International Technology Park in Lanarkshire.

CSIC helps construction related businesses to innovate, collaborate and grow by matching innovation requirements with business support and academic specialists. It offers training, programmes, partnership management, and a state-of-the-art production and prototyping facility which can be booked on a membership or pay-as-you-go basis.

Perceptive has provided ad hoc communications support to CSIC in the past, but had to compete against the four other agencies, via a written submission and presentation of ideas for the brief.

Wendy Rizza, marketing and communications manager at CSIC said:  “Perceptive really impressed us with their creativity and solid industry insight. They stood head and shoulders above the rest of the submissions in terms of industry knowledge, experience and practical suggestions for making the most of our budget.”

Julie McLauchlan, founder and managing director of Perceptive Communicators, said:  “Construction is a key sector for us and one in which we believe our experience is unparalleled in Scotland. We’re passionate about helping businesses and organisations achieve the best results possible, and are looking forward to supporting CSIC increase its share of voice and influence across Scotland and beyond.”

Why DIY research isn’t always the best business solution

Why DIY research isn’t always the best business solution

By Sinead Assenti, Research Director, Perceptive Communicators

Most savvy businesses want to know how they and their products and services are perceived by their customers, stakeholders and employees. Most businesses can predict these perceptions with 70-80% accuracy, but it is the magic remaining 20-30% that makes all the difference.

This could be underestimating the impact of certain influences on your target audiences, which means precious marketing spend is being wasted.  Or it could be missing a key issue amongst employees which impacts on performance, productivity and retention.

Many businesses turn to online survey software, such as Survey Monkey, to carry out their own research to inform their business strategy, and I can see the attraction. After all, it is freely available and makes it possible for you to create your own questionnaires cost effectively and with relative ease.  But before you think about your next piece of do-it-yourself research, I’d like to give you a few things to think about.

Often, businesses turn to online surveys because they are quick, easy and cheap – but not every research question can be answered by a simple survey. If your research needs are complex, you have a small audience, or your questions are not suited to tick boxes, then you might want to ask an expert for advice.

My first concern with online surveys is the response rate, which can often be as low as 2%. The people who do reply to these surveys tend to have strong opinions, whether they be negative or positive. Because the respondents are self-selecting, they may not be representative of your audience, and consequently the findings of your research may not be meaningful. There’s also the fact that no matter how hard you try, in house research can never be truly anonymous, confidential or objective.

Free software is not very sophisticated when compared with the industry software used by professional researchers. Let’s face it, if it could do the job to a high enough standard, we’d all be using it too rather than paying expensive annual fees. I am often asked to produce reports on online data gathered by in-house surveys because the data they produce is sometimes difficult to understand or use. They also often lead to incomplete data, because participants miss out questions that they have to think about too much or don’t want to answer, or can abandon questionnaires halfway through, especially if they are badly designed.

Some businesses over-use research, firing out an online questionnaire every time they are not sure what direction to take. This can lead to “survey fatigue”. Over-reliance on surveys can also appear to your customers and stakeholders as though you lack confidence in decision-making.

While everyone thinks they can write a questionnaire, it is actually a skill. Some rookie errors that inexperienced survey-writers can make include creating leading or biased questions, asking several things in one question, or making incorrect assumptions. Sensitive topics should be tackled near the end of a survey and spontaneous perceptions should always be gathered before any prompting.

A tip I would give is to encourage participation by offering an incentive, like entry into a prize draw or a copy of the report, and also by streamlining your questionnaire so it is more user friendly – and therefore more likely that the respondent will complete the survey without running out of time or patience.

There is definitely a time and place for the DIY online survey, but for accurate and independent research that will help deliver future business activities with more success, it’s worth considering independent research such as focus groups, in-depth stakeholder interviews, telephone surveys or even mystery shopping.

The findings from this research can help businesses accurately understand how they are perceived by target audiences and employees, so improving return on investment for any new or current initiatives. In itself, carrying out independent research demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to excellence to its internal and external stakeholders and customers.

This article originally appeared on 



Scotframe, one of Scotland’s largest offsite timber frame specialists, has launched a permanent showroom and sales office at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon, as it targets a larger share of the English self-build housing market.

Headquartered in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotframe is an industry leader in the supply of full kit packages for housing and commercial projects in the UK. Established in 1989, the company now has 160 employees and a £35m turnover. It has two manufacturing facilities in Inverurie and at Cumbernauld as well as sales offices and showrooms at Inverness and Dundee.

Scotframe was acquired by Saint-Gobain – a global group with 18,000 employees in the UK alone – in November last year, a move which Scotframe believes will help accelerate its expansion into English markets. Scotframe’s annual turnover in England is currently £2.5m, and the company hopes to treble that figure over the next three years.

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre is the UK’s only permanent venue for independent advice and support on self-build, renovation and home improvements. It offers free and impartial advice to anyone looking to undertake such a project, as well as access to a range of exhibitors.

Scotframe’s show home was launched at the centre’s National Self Build and Renovation Show on 11th May. The company is currently recruiting a new member of staff who will be based at the centre.

Malcolm Thomson, sales director at Scotframe said: “Scotland leads the way in timber frame construction, with 83% of new build homes in Scotland using timber frame, compared to just 23% in England. However, the market share for timber construction in England is steadily rising and I believe this trend will continue.

“Timber frame is a particularly attractive option for self-build, which is growing in popularity south of the border, thanks to the recent Right to Build legislation. We hope having a presence at the NSBRC will help us tap into this burgeoning self-build market in England, especially as we have over 28 years of experience and expertise, during which time we have supplied over 30,000 houses.

“Sometimes the hardest part about a self-build project is knowing where to start, so now we have a permanent home at the NSBRC, we’re here to help anyone who might have any questions about any aspect of self-build.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 18 May 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 18 May 2018

This week, the Scottish Parliament refused to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill – and the UK government is now being urged to “respect Parliament’s decision and remove the proposed power grab from the EU Withdrawal Bill.” Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems joined the SNP in an overwhelming rejection of the Withdrawal Bill as currently drafted leaving only the Conservatives isolated in support.

The rejection of the withdrawal bill by the Scottish Parliament means the UK Government must now act to remove Clause 11 from the bill or make further changes to secure Holyrood’s consent before the EU Withdrawal Bill is passed by the Commons. If the UK Government don’t take steps to amend the bill, it will be breaking the conventions that have governed nearly 20 years of devolution.

Elsewhere at Holyrood and MSPs on the local government committee have called for widespread changes to planning reforms. The Scottish Government has put forward a Planning Bill in a bid to overhaul the current system and give local people more of a say, but the committee said not enough was being done to soothe community frustrations over parts of the planning system. Members also questioned some powers being taken on by ministers, and called for one section to be removed entirely. Planning Minister Kevin Stewart MSP said he would respond to the committee’s recommendations in due course.

On economic news, Scotland’s private sector has reported its strongest rate of expansion since last October, according to the latest IHS Markit Scotland PMI report.  It found that April’s improvement was supported by a “solid inflow” of new business and stronger employment gains, and attributed the upturn to an improving service sector, as manufacturing production fell for a third straight month. However, it also signalled sharper rises in input costs and output prices.

In the same week that STV has announced plans to close its loss-making STV2 channel, the BBC has said that its new, dedicated TV channel for Scotland will go live in February next year. It had initially been planned to start broadcasting this autumn, but BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon said “coming on air early in the new year was the best option for us, audiences and our suppliers”.

And finally … Spare a thought for a Scottish MP who has fallen victim to identity theft by a suspected drug dealer in Manchester. Jamie Stone, the Lib Dem MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said he was initially accused of having been in a car crash in Salford after being contacted by Salford police. MPs greeted Mr Stone’s announcement with calls of “free the Caithness one”.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign-up to receive it directly to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Kier Graham partnership secures a place on £750m Clyde Commercial Framework

Kier Graham partnership secures a place on £750m Clyde Commercial Framework

The Kier Graham joint venture (JV) has recently been appointed to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s (DIO) prestigious new £750M Clyde Commercial Framework (CCF). Working in partnership, Kier Graham Defence will deliver building, civil engineering and mechanical and electrical works to the main HMNB Clyde at Faslane in Scotland, which is home to the nation’s core Submarine Service.

The JV is one of only three contractors to have been appointed to the DIO’s framework, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. The ten-year programme includes a wide spectrum of project types, typically ranging from £10m – £90m in value; from standalone, new-buildings including accommodation and training facilities, through to complex refurbishments on nuclear infrastructure in high security and operational areas.

The Clyde Commercial Framework supports the DIO’s Commercial strategy that was launched in 2017, and supports the Ministry of Defence’s £1.3bn Clyde programme, ensuring personnel responsible for delivering the UK’s Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) are able to live work and train in safe, state of the art facilities.

Brian McQuade, Managing Director for Kier Construction, Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to have been appointed to the DIO’s new Clyde Commercial Framework working in joint venture with Graham. Kier was one of the first companies to sign the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in 2013, putting it at the heart of its policy, and understanding the importance the construction industry plays in supporting the nation’s defence and security. Together we look forward to providing high quality buildings and infrastructure to HMNB Clyde, which will allow the Ministry of Defence to continue to carry out its vital operations effectively.”

Gary Holmes, Graham Managing Director, Building Scotland said, “The DIO’s pioneering new approach to this major contract stresses the necessity for collaboration, transparency and trust. Securing our place on the framework in the face of major competitors is testimony to the seamless nature of the Kier Graham Defence partnership. Together we understand the complexities of working within secure environments and this appointment underlines our expertise within the defence sector and builds on our combined success in delivering first-class projects throughout the UK.”

Ian Arbuckle, DIO Assistant Head of Commercial Services, said: “We are incredibly pleased to launch our new framework for the Clyde. We have successfully selected three reputable industry partners who have demonstrated a commitment to delivering better value for Defence.”

Cdre Mark Gayfer, Naval Base Commander Clyde, said “I am delighted that today we have put in place the framework to deliver the right infrastructure to ensure that we are able to continue to provide high quality support to our submarines and also our sailors and their families for the foreseeable future.”

Independently the two organisations have strong track records working across the UK within the defence infrastructure as well as numerous core production facilities for the Ministry of Defence’s clients. As joint venture partners Kier Graham Defence already has a growing defence portfolio delivering several schemes through the DIO’s Next Generation Estates Contract (NGEC), National and Regional Frameworks.

The Clyde Commercial Framework adheres to the NEC4 model, a unique process for collaboration, fair dealing and project management. The two other contractors appointed to the Clyde Commercial Framework are Morgan Sindall and VolkerStevin.


Scottish Political Insider – Friday 11 May 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 11 May 2018

A balmy Bank Holiday gave way to gloomy clouds at the end of this week, at Holyrood as well as in the skies.  A hint of cross party unity over Channel 4’s potential new HQ coming to Glasgow quickly descended into acrimony as opposition parties tore into SNP plans for a new Scottish ‘national investment bank.’

There should have been some interesting economic news this week as MSPs heard that the Scottish National Investment Bank might be operational by 2019, providing £2bn of investment within a decade. Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown MSP said the publicly-owned bank could potentially transform the economy and suggested it could help Scotland to become fairer and more prosperous. The Scottish Government unveiled plans for the investment bank in its programme for government last year. But during the Holyrood debate, the Conservatives warned they would not support legislation to create the bank unless the government streamlines business support, and Labour also criticised the plans, describing them as “timid” and saying Labour would invest 10 times as much.

And as if Scottish politics couldn’t get any more irritating, Donald Trump is expected to visit Scotland on his trip to the UK in July, the BBC has reported. The full itinerary for the US president’s visit has not yet been finalised, but Scotland correspondent Glenn Campbell said the current plan included a Scottish leg to his tour.

From the Scottish Government we heard some disappointing economic/workforce news this week. New figures released on Wednesday show that in 2017 annual labour productivity in Scotland, as measured by output per hour worked, decreased by 1.9% in real terms compared to 2016. The statistics show that labour productivity is now at a lower level than it was in 2010. The figures also suggest that Scots are working longer than any other time since 2007. In 2007, the average weekly hours per job was 31. Having fallen in the intervening years, in 2017 it was back up to 30.9 and, in addition, the gap between UK and Scottish productivity is larger than it was in 2009 and output per hour grew at a UK level in 2017 but fell in Scotland. The country has now fallen three places down to 18th in the international rankings of GDP per capita.

Combining media with business, Nicola Sturgeon says Glasgow would be the “perfect place” for Channel 4’s new headquarters. The broadcaster is searching for a base and two other hubs outside London, with plans to move hundreds of jobs there. Ms Sturgeon told a conference in the city that the “unique character” of Glasgow would be “a great fit for Channel 4”.  Scotland’s other large cities have already backed the Glasgow bid. The new headquarters outside London is part of a major restructuring planned by the channel.

And finally … Congratulations to client Clyde Gateway who will play host to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet when they meet in the regeneration area on Monday, 21 May. Clyde Gateway is Scotland’s biggest regeneration programme covering 840 hectares in the east end of Glasgow and Rutherglen. Cabinet Secretaries will take part in a full day of events to mark a decade of investment in the area, culminating in a public discussion at the Emirates Arena led by the First Minister.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign-up to receive it directly to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Mactaggart & Mickel secures planning permission for second English housing development

Mactaggart & Mickel secures planning permission for second English housing development

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes England, part of the Mactaggart & Mickel Group, have received planning permission for their second English housing development at East Challow, near Wantage in Oxfordshire.

The five-star Home Builder Federation (HBF)-rated housebuilder also recently opened an office in Cheltenham, where they will initially create around 20 full time jobs for local people, as they expand into the English housebuilding market.

The housing development at East Challow received planning consent for 38 new homes – a mixture of 25, two- to five-bedroom private homes and 13 one- to three-bedroom affordable homes. The private homes will be two-, three- and four-bedroom homes.

This marks an important step for the company, following their move into the English housebuilding market as they plan to broaden their geographical reach to a UK wide audience.

Craig Ormond, Company Director at Mactaggart & Mickel Homes England Ltd, said:

“We look forward to starting work at this exciting new quality development at East Challow. As well as providing new quality housing, we will be working with local suppliers and contributing to the local economy. We plan to be on site later this year.”



A week of political turmoil at Westminster as Theresa May said goodbye to her fourth Cabinet Minister within a year through no choice of her own.  Amber Rudd admitted misleading the Commons over immigration quotas and stepped down, thus allowing the ambitious millionaire businessman, Sajid Javed, to be promoted to Home Secretary.

Further north and the Scottish Tories had a modest celebration this week as Ruth Davidson overtook the late David McLetchie to become the party’s longest serving leader since the post was created.

Tension was in the air at Holyrood as MSPs debated Brexit again. And Scottish ministers this week rejected the latest bid to settle the dispute with Westminster over post-Brexit powers.  This comes despite the Welsh and UK governments striking a deal. The UK Government is to publish changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill in an effort to end the long-running row with the devolved administrations.

The Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell MSP reiterated the need for changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill to protect devolution, following a meeting with the UK Government in London on Wednesday. Mr Russell confirmed there are still options which would secure an agreement, with two solutions suggested to the UK Government at the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations.

Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol in Scotland came into force this week (on 1 May) and has been broadly welcomed by the country’s political parties.  Some, including the Lib Dems and most Conservatives, changed their initial opposition to support during the protracted debates which saw the Bill passed in 2012.

Proving this week that the SNP are tough on crime, a man has been jailed for 90 days after stealing toilet roll from a senior SNP MSP. Patrick McHardy stole toilet rolls, soap, hand gel and a diffuser bottle from the Renfrew constituency office of Derek Mackay MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution.

And finally …this week Tavish Scott, one of Holyrood’s longest serving MSPs hosted a behind the scenes tour of Holyrood and a private dinner for Perceptive guests.  Tavish was in usual entertaining and candid form with some interesting insights and predictions about  Brexit, watch this space.

 If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

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