Summary

Positioning Liberty as the champion of the UK steel industry, our team helped turn a company with a relatively low UK profile into national front page news

Objectives
  • Position Liberty as a key player in UK industry, specifically the steel sector
  • Position Liberty and its chairman as progressive forces in a troubled industry
  • Secure customers and attract investor support for growth plans
  • Build support for Liberty’s reform agenda – including Government concessions on energy taxes
Results
  • Examination of media coverage showed that journalists now write about write about Liberty as a leader in British steel, despite having very little experience in the manufacturing side of the UK sector. The Tata process provided a platform to promote the alternative business model based on recycling scrap steel, powered by green energy.
  • It’s important to note that, even before the Tata announcement, we had already achieved significant positive coverage including in-depth features in both upmarket and popular national outlets - such as Radio 4, The Times, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times and Daily Mail. This resulted in Sanjeev being portrayed as the ‘saviour’ of the industry. Headlines included:
  • “Putting the steel back into British industry”- Independent
  • “Is this the man who can save British steel?” – Daily Mail
  • “Man of steel shows his soft side” – The Times
  • “Tycoon who believes he can resurrect the UK's steel industry” – Guardian
  • “Metals magnate rolls out Welsh steelmaking revival” – Financial Times
  • To capitalise on media interest following Tata’s announcement, we arranged a series of interview days in Newport and London to accommodate journalists’ needs. The exposure secured for both Sanjeev and his vision for the steel industry, resulted in him being named ‘Person in the News’ by the Financial Times, as well as appearing on Newsnight and Panorama, among others.
PR Week figures show 41% of British adults were aware of the Tata story in April 2016, with Liberty dominating the story
Total global reach of over 7.5 billion for Liberty House Group in a period of less than twelve months
Managed events with 6 ministers, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and UK Business Minister Anna Soubry
Co-ordinated several BBC Radio documentaries and a Panorama programme on our client
How we did it?

The steel crisis has been one of the most political and emotively charged running stories of 2015/6. Through thorough research on the landscape, we sought to align Liberty’s aspirations with the wider UK steel and economic agenda.

 

Their first big move was to buy a relatively small works – 150 workers - in Newport.  We positioned its reopening and Liberty’s new business model as going against the grain of a collapsing UK steel sector; this made it a strong nationwide story. This was further strengthened by holding the Newport relaunch on the very day in October 2015 the Government held a crisis ‘summit’ after the closure of Redcar steelworks. We made strong play of the fact that Liberty had continued paying the Newport workers for many months while the mill was mothballed; to preserve the skillbase for the future.

 

Following relaunch we continued using juxta-positioning tactics, as Liberty made further acquisitions across the UK, bringing positive stories to the news agenda.

 

In March 2015, things shifted dramatically when Tata Steel announced the sale of its loss-making UK assets. Liberty’s Executive Chair Sanjeev was first to show tentative interest and, following some days of careful media briefing, Liberty were positioned as frontrunners to buy the business. Though virtual unknowns six months previously, Liberty believed a high profile would help attract investors to support their bid. This proved to be the case.

Since then, we’ve managed just about every high profile media outlet in the English speaking world, regularly briefing and arranging interviews with everyone from Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, Guardian, BBC Radio 4, BBC Newsnight, Bloomberg and Sky News. The Indian media is also another key channel for our stories, reflecting the heritage of the brand.

 

Media messages have been carefully constructed where we needed to influence Westminster, Scottish and Welsh politicians, industry commentators, Tata itself, the unions and individual steelworkers.