When the PR agency becomes the story...

The editor's leader is designed as a platform to express opinion - and I will in a moment - but first I want to ask yours.

Ruth Wyatt: 'Bell Pottinger makes decisions on who to represent at a senior level and must accept the potential consequences of those decisions.'
Ruth Wyatt: 'Bell Pottinger makes decisions on who to represent at a senior level and must accept the potential consequences of those decisions.'

PRWeek is launching a Lifetime Achievement Award this year and we’d like to take the temperature of the industry at large. We’d like to know who you, our readers, believe should be considered.

Ultimately the winner will be an editorial decision and we seek to ensure those considered by us genuinely reflect those considered by you to have made a major contribution to PR.

 Right, on with the usual business of being opinionated...

Silly season is well and truly upon us. Look no further than the amount of coverage devoted to Jeremy Paxman’s face fur for evidence.

The general paucity of news has done the anti-fracking campaign no end of good. This story has already enjoyed a good run and has yet to run out of power.

The campaigners haven’t used any particularly revolutionary tactics, but news desks across the land have lapped up an emotive story in an otherwise slow month.

That’s not to say civil disobedience is a trivial matter or indeed that the threat of direct action against members of our constituency – in this instance Bell Pottinger – is to be taken lightly. Finding out that your agency is under threat is never a nice feeling.

Granted Bell Pottinger is no stranger to controversy. It is the go-to agency for challenging/unpopular/controversial clients.

It makes decisions on who and what to represent at a senior level and must accept the potential consequences of those decisions. No doubt it foresees the potential fallout better than most.

But the human aspect should not be forgotten. There are people further down the food chain who must find the idea of being on the receiving end of direct action worrying.

You could argue that by choosing to work for a controversial agency they automatically put themselves in the firing line, but I doubt that many fresh-faced recruits think that through to its nth degree before eagerly signing up to one of the best known agencies in the land.

In reality, the Reclaim the Power protesters who superglued themselves to Bell Pottinger’s front door on Monday did little more than make a nuisance of themselves. And anyway the building has another entrance, so they hardly achieved lockdown of Cuadrilla’s agency.

The damage done to the firm by the PR agency becoming the story is another matter.

ruth.wyatt@haymarket.com

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