Public Relations outsourcing and press office staff: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

"I would appreciate responses to these requests to be broken down by year and cover the period between the 2015-16 financial year.

1) How many times has the Scottish Government engaged the services of an outside public relations or communications firm? I would appreciate if this could be broken down by year as well as a description of the project on which they were engaged.

2) The amount paid to each firm for each project.

3) How much has the Scottish Government spent on communications, both in-house and outsourcing?

Also, could you also tell me, as of January 17 2022, how many people are employed by the Scottish Government's press office, broken down by position and salary?"

And, provided the additional information following clarification:

  • Period interested in 2015-16 to January 2022.
  • ‘Communications’ definition - for the purpose of this request this should be taken to mean any marketing or public messaging, such as awareness campaigns.


In regards to your Qs 1 – 3, the Scottish Government works in partnership with communications agencies on an ongoing basis in the delivery of essential marketing activity that is required to increase awareness and uptake of policy, enable people to make informed choices and help to improve people’s lives.

Agencies are procured through the Scottish Government’s Media, marketing, design and print marketing frameworks. More information can be found here:

We are committed to openness and transparency and publish details of our marketing spend annually on This information gives details on total marketing spend, broken down by campaign and then further broken down by product (advertising services, digital services, PR, field, research, etc) and media product (TV, digital, radio, Outdoor, press, etc). For each campaign, where a product has a cost attributed to it, then we have engaged the services on an external agency.

Marketing spend, from 2013-14 till the last full financial year in 2020-21, can be found at the following link:

The Scottish Government does not outsource frontline communications staff/press officers.

In regards to your question on “as of 17 January 2022, how many people are employed by the Scottish Government’s press office, broken down by position and salary”, the majority of the information you have requested is available via our response to FOI 202200269219, which can be found here:

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

The staffing details provided are as at 31 December 2021 and the reasons why we don’t have the information up to the request date, 17 January 2022 are explained below.

Our HR data goes through a lot of processing before it can be used or published and is not held in such a way that a snapshot at any date can be instantly provided. We take a monthly extract of the data from the system and that is cleaned and quality assured before being treated as the official record.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the level of detail you have requested would require HR to commission our IT business area to run a custom extract up to the request date and would breach the upper cost level of £600.(Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.)

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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