Agencies bow to APPC membership pressure

Two agencies that have previously refused to join the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) this week softened their opposition to the industry body.

Whale: APPC is ‘too narrow’
Whale: APPC is ‘too narrow’

Sovereign Strategy and Golden Arrow acted following mounting pressure on those agencies that do not adhere to industry-wide codes of conduct.

However, four of the biggest players in public affairs – Bell Pottinger, DLA Piper, Luther Pendragon and Hanover – are still declining to join the APPC.

Firms that do not join either the APPC or PRCA now risk losing out on major contracts with public bodies, following a campaign by Lab­our MP John Grogan.

This week, Golden Arrow director Andrew Pakes said the agency was planning to join the APPC, and added: ‘We do support what John Grogan has to say about transparency.’

Sovereign Strategy associate director Jo Kimble said: ‘We’re APPC-compliant so there’s no impediment to us joining… We’ll see.’

But other agencies remained hostile. In an article for PRWeek, Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chair Peter Bingle argues APPC membership does not guarantee ‘the highest ethical standards’.

Eben Black, head of media at DLA Piper Global Government Relations, said: ‘We are subject to statutory regulations by The Law Society that are both stringent and enforceable. Given that, we can see no value in our signing up to an organisation like APPC.’

Simon Whale, partner at Luther Pendragon, argued the APPC is too narrow in scope. He said: ‘‘We fully support an effective and proportionate form of regulation for the public relations sector. Regulation needs to reflect the providers of multi-service communications consultancy such as ourselves – not just those who specialise in government relations.’

Charles Lewington, MD at Hanover, stressed that his agency is a member of the PRCA. He said: ‘It focuses on raising professional standards and it isn’t obs­essed by transparency and ethics.’

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