Pagoda Public Relations

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Pagoda, now known as Pagoda Porter Novelli is an Edinburgh-based PR and lobbying company run by the former head of the Institute of Public Relations Scotland Ian Coldwell.

In April 2015 Pagoda bought fellow Scottish PR firm Porter Novelli International to form Pagoda Porter Novelli.


Privatising housing

Pagoda ran into controversy in a conflict of interest case in 2005. The Scotsman reported:

An argument over a lucrative contract involving some of Scotland's highest-profile PR firms has landed on the desk of Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm. It follows Edinburgh City Council's decision to award a £250,000 deal to work on the Edinburgh housing stock transfer programme to Pagoda PR, based in Edinburgh.
Pagoda - chaired by former Tory minister Sir Michael Hirst and with former Edinburgh Council leader Keith Geddes as policy director - won a four-way pitch for the prestigious contract. However, concerns have been raised when it was revealed that Pagoda also listed Communities Scotland, the stock transfer regulator, as one of their clients...
Pagoda has already undertaken a number of consultation programmes on housing stock transfer programmes throughout Scotland. The firm has worked with Scottish Borders Council from the initial tenant consultation through to a successful ballot in favour of transfer providing advice on public consultation, focusing on tenants and other stakeholders such as housing staff, voluntary agencies, elected members, community organisations and the wider public.
Pagoda worked with the Highland Council on 52 public meetings and roadshows to consult tenants on the options for future ownership and management of council housing, and the firm is now working with Inverclyde and Aberdeen City on a similar consultation and communication exercise.
Ian Coldwell, managing director of Pagoda, says he is awaiting confirmation from Edinburgh Council to confirm the housing transfer account was theirs. He says they no longer work directly for Communities Scotland: "We carried out a short internal communications audit for Communities Scotland a year ago and are no longer retained by them. We do not see why this is in any way relevant. "We are extremely pleased to have won the Edinburgh tender. It is the latest of a number of communication contracts we have won against Beattie in recent months. We believe we have a very strong public sector offering and are disappointed that Beattie should choose to respond in this way." A spokesperson for Communities Scotland confirms that Pagoda worked for them in 2003 on an internal communication project for their staff.[1]


Former employees

Revolving door with Edinburgh City Council

Like Holyrood lobbying rivals PPS Group, Pagoda Public Relations have been able to secure a former head of the Edinburgh City Council, Keith Geddes who held the position in the 1990s, and now acts as policy chief for the PR and lobbying company. In a report released by Spinwatch, Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society, Geddes states that he wants ‘to effect change in public policy by linking up clients with key decision makers'. [3] Given that Pagoda do not disclose any of their lobbying clients, it is unclear as to who benefits from Geddes' access and experience.


Pagoda does not sign up to the voluntary transparency registers operated by the lobbying industry. However, it lists some clients on its website in the following sectors: 'construction and developments'; education; energy; food and drink; tourism; leisure; transport; and health and social care. [4]

Clients listed August 2015 include:

Abbvie | Alliance Boots | BESA | Exova | Nationwide | Novo Nordisk | Roche | ScotRail | The Crown Estate | The Scottish Whiskey Experience | Waitrose [5]

Clients listed February 2009

Alliance Boots | Applecross Properties Ltd | Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) | Bett Homes | Borders College | Boyack Homes | Edinburgh Mela | Electoral Commission | First Scotrail | Forth Ports | JS Crawford | Kirkintilloch's Initiative | London 2012 | Novo Nordisk | Remploy | Renfrewshire Council | Roche Diagnostics | Royal Bank of Scotland | Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) | Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People | The Crown Estate | The EDI Group | Waitrose | WASPS Artists' Studios[6]

Clients listed November 2005

Applecross Properties Ltd | Bett Homes | Borders College | Boyack Homes | City of Edinburgh Council | Contact a Family | Crawford JS | Crown Castle | Cultenhove and Cornton Regeneration Programme | Dow Investments | | East Lothian Council | easyJet | EDI Group | Fife Council | George Wimpey City Ltd | Healing Through Remembering | Hi-Fli Flags and Banners | Homes for Scotland | Inverclyde Council | Job Centre Plus | Kirkintilloch Initiative | Lennoxtown Initiative | London 2012 | National Library of Scotland | NIPPA - the early years organization | Northern Ireland Office (DCAL) | Novo Nordisk | Rocela | Roche Diagnostics Ltd | Scottish Arts Council | Scottish Water | Shetland NHS Board | Stirling Council | Sure Start | The Crown Estate | The Eaga Partnership | The Highland Council | William Grant & Sons[7]

Previous clients

Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust | Marine Harvest | New Ingliston Limited | Optos Plc | Partners | Royal College of Nursing | Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations | Student Loans Company | TI Solutions | Transco | Zenomap[8]


Spinwatch resources

Beattie Accuses rival of conflict of interest PR Week, 9 February 2005.


Address: 4 Eyre Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5EP


  1. SHARON WARD 'Fighting still rages on the homes front' The Scotsman Thu 3 Feb 2005.
  2. Khidr Suleman Pagoda PR buys up CM Porter Novelli PR Week, 30 April 2015, accessed 30 April 2015.
  3. Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in, October 12 2015, accessed 12 October 2015
  4. ref needed
  5. ref needed
  6. Pagoda, Pagoda website, accessed Feb 2009
  7. Pagoda clients
  8. Pagoda clients