Fiscal Phil Says Fiscal Rules OK


‘Alacrity’. It means ‘brisk and cheerful readiness’. It’s a word that’s not used enough so when Chancellor Phillip Hammond used it in his budget on Monday it drove a spike in Googling with people looking for its definition.



It’s a great word to describe Bottle’s approach to the Budget. Every year, the Bottle team gathers in the newsroom to watch the Chancellor’s speech live. Using the speculative articles that have come out over the preceding few days, we’ve got a fair idea of what may well come up and drafted our client’s comments accordingly. Armed with these ‘preapproved’ comments on topics pertinent to our clients, we eagerly listen to the speech, ready to send out reactions when the time comes, or hastily edit them in light of any unexpected twists.

It’s really a fastest finger first scenario when it comes to Budget. Around the country – the world, even – PRs are prepped. Journalists writing on the Budget will shortly be inundated with emails jumping on what Spreadsheet Phil says is going to get funding. And we want to get in there first. But to achieve this, preparation is key.

Some clients, such as Outsource have worked with us to prepare a couple of statements ready to go. Others, like Opus Energy, are more open to seeing what might come from the speech and using it for future inspiration. One of our client’s teams even had a WhatsApp group to ensure a speedy turn around and access to key spokespeople – highlighting how serious this one speech is for brands across the UK.

Eyes scanning, fingers twitching, crisps occasionally being consumed. It began.“Fiscal Phil says fiscal rules OK”, said Fiscal Phil to a unison of groans. Both in the chamber and in our newsroom. “People are already tweeting it”, Katrina says. Phil’s gone viral.

£420m to fix potholes: “There you go”. Our automotive teams’ ears prick up. Gillian is immediately onto the WhatsApp group, working with the client to ensure they were happy to comment before sending out tailored comment on road infrastructure.

Next up is IR35 (legislation designed to combat contractor tax avoidance), another key point that we were looking out for. Fiona, looking after Outsource UK, was poised and ready. We’d prepared a statement based on the assumption that IR35 would be rolled out to all businesses, regardless of size. Ready to hit send. But then, Phil threw a spanner in the works. In his speech, the chancellor stated that, actually, it would only apply to large and medium businesses. Silence in the chamber. Groans of “Oh” in the newsroom.

Not to worry, though. Immediately, Fiona is in contact with Outsource UK to tweak the comment. It was signed off 10 minutes later and sent to all the city desk and trade journalists. Within 20 minutes we’d had our first hit of coverage in Personnel Today followed closely by LeasePlan coverage.

In the meantime, Phil hit his joke stride with the news about public lavatories. Convenience, bogged-down, the only announcement that wasn’t leaked.

In short, Bottle’s budget party was and always is a well-oiled, responsive machine. A live challenge to which everyone approached with brisk and cheerful readiness. Now, if only there was a word for that…

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