OPINION: The Big Question - What impact will the Piers Morgan shares fiasco have on financial PR? - The Mirror’s City Slickers columnists have been sacked and its editor castigated for allegedly using the newspaper’s City pages to tip shar

RUPERT ASHE

RUPERT ASHE



GCI Focus



’In the main, financial PR firms have very strict compliance rules on

share dealing. This affair is simply about alleged front-running of

share tips, which is unethical, yet has been around since the market

began. The idea that investors need greater protection from financial

journalists puffing stocks for personal gain than from the company’s own

directors is laughable. Also, it has been known for stocks to go down in

price following media recommendations. Several business journals have

become famous in this respect!’





CHARLES WATSON



Financial Dynamics



’If the practice of journalists tipping shares they owned were ever to

be proved to be widespread then the integrity of investment columns

within the financial media would inevitably be called into question. The

implications vary for the financial PR industry. For those practitioners

who believe that their prime role is to persuade the media to tip their

clients’ shares, their very existence might become redundant if, at some

stage, tipsters become discredited. For those of us who focus on

providing their clients with high added value strategic counsel, a media

compliance issue of this nature is really of no relevance - unless you

happened to be advising the newspaper group concerned!’





CHRIS MATTHEWS



The Hogarth Partnership



’This is an area that is becoming increasingly difficult to handle. You

have to be so careful with journalists, particularly share tippers -

five to 10 years ago the private shareholder was the exception but now

it is a far wider audience. In the last 24 months it has become the norm

for private shareholders to swap share information over the internet.

Something that is published in a newspaper column can be read all over

the world, so you have to be doubly guarded about what you write.

Financial PROs must be more on their guard about what they say as there

is a growing audience elements of which have been energised by the

internet and so increases the threat of information rebounding around

all corners of the globe.’





ROBERT PESTON



Financial Times



’The lessons are mainly for journalists rather than PROs, and the

principal one for us is that we should do nothing to jeopardise our

reputation for fairness and impartiality. Readers’ trust in a

columnist’s advice is fatally undermined if there is the faintest

suspicion that the writer is profiting from the manipulation of share

prices. The same rules must apply to the PR industry. PR advisers have a

difficult enough job winning the trust of cynical journalists that they

are a source of reliable information. Were they to have significant

stakes in their clients, their advice to those clients would be far from

impartial. The practice of some PR firms to take equity stakes in

dot.com clients in lieu of fees is therefore a potentially worrying

trend.’



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