Catching the headlines with scallop disco fever

Public relations


To raise Fishtek Marine’s profile as the global leader in sustainable fishing, Pelican found a unique story angle that delivered national and broadcast media coverage and put the marine conservation firm on the radar of key stakeholders. The resulting media exposure has led to Defra-funded trails taking place with Fishtek’s PotLights to establish the long-term viability of in-shore scallop fishing.

Tell me more

Fishtek Marine is a unique conservation engineering company that has developed innovative fishing technologies that facilitate sustainable fishing by reducing the bycatch of dolphins, turtles, seabirds and sharks.

During the client discovery phase, Fishtek told us about a trial of its ‘PotLights’. These small underwater lights are designed to help protect fish stocks by replacing the need to use fish to bait crab and lobster pots.  The team had discovered that along with crabs, scallops were highly attracted to the bright, blinking lights – a behaviour that had never been observed before.

The Challenge

While sustainability is a hot topic, getting a fishing product on the national news agenda would normally be a challenge. However, we took the notion of flashing light-loving molluscs and developed a creative narrative that would make this story irresistible to the national press.

The Pelican approach

To get Fishtek as much exposure as possible, we created the narrative that scallops love disco lights. We nicknamed the illuminated lobster pots “scallop discos” – a phrase that conjures up incredible imagery that proved to be more than just clickbait.

To ensure that The Guardian were hooked by the story, we put together a solid package with compelling editorial, great images and a video of the scallop disco in action that they couldn’t refuse.

On the day the exclusive broke, we followed up with an extensive campaign to push the story as far as possible, contacting regional and national news and broadcast teams along with the environmental press.

Key Fishtek spokespeople were fully briefed and media-trained in advance, with their diaries cleared when the story broke to give the media easy access for interviews.

As well as Pelican’s activity, the press release was edited by the University of Exeter and used by them for outreach to specialist international academic journals and titles. This gave the story a presence beyond the natural boundary of our usual reach and hit another target group; the influencers which impact government and regulatory authorities.

The results

The story achieved extensive coverage in The Guardian, The Guardian online and a feature on BBC Radio 4’s six o’clock news. We also secured local BBC and ITV news coverage and extensive trade PR. Disco Scallops were even featured on the BBC TV programme, Countryfile.

As a result of the media coverage, Defra-funded trails are now taking place with in-shore fishermen in Lyme Bay and Scotland, using Fishtek’s PotLights. The trials will establish the long-term viability of the in-shore scallop fishery and could change the way the industry catches scallops for good, with the hope that current, more damaging techniques could soon be a thing of the past.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSRfoodpackaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategy, design,  content creation,  public relations and people development.

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