EDITORIAL: Disclosure key to fair case studies

The question of whether PR agencies should put their own staff

forward as case study subjects requires a fresh look this week as

Granada made plain its anger at The SPA Way for not disclosing that a

healthcare case study subject enthusing about a medical procedure worked

for the company paid to promote it.



Since disinterested case studies are notoriously hard to find - and

since the media are constantly keen to personalise dry material - the

tendency of PR agencies to rely on their own staff to act as clients'

brand champions is on the rise. In sectors such as financial services,

consumer health and technology, the practice of agency staff acting as

case studies is almost ubiquitous.



The IPR code and PRCA guidelines place a clear and unambiguous value on

honesty, accuracy and, above all, openness. It is the last of these that

raises the most serious questions for the industry. To ban any agency

employee from acting as a case study is to discriminate unfairly against

agency staff, despite most case studies being both genuine and

illuminating of the matter in hand.



But to fail to make plain to the media - whose trust PROs need - that

the subject is on the payroll, is to invite suspicion where none is

necessary.



PR consultants routinely advise that the perception of sharp practice is

as damaging as the reality. Since these incidents have the ability to

tarnish the image of the industry as a whole, it is crucial to err on

the side of full disclosure.



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