PR Action Taskforce set to defend 'agencies with dodgy clients'

Talks are under way to establish a new body representing UK-based PR agencies with controversial clients, as pressure mounts on the industry to clean up its act.

Tony Blair: Represented by taskforce member
Tony Blair: Represented by taskforce member

The new body is being set up by a loose collective of PR consultants from agencies including Bell Pottinger, Hill & Knowlton and Portland.

One senior figure involved in the new body told PRWeek: 'Between us we have promoted a wide range of unpopular causes – big pharma, big oil, tobacco. One of our founding members even represented Tony Blair. Our driving ethos is that everyone deserves a voice. Especially if they have loads of money!'

The new body has been provisionally called the PR Action Taskforce, reflecting its ambitions to vocally defend under-fire agencies and 'dodgy' clients.

The taskforce is expected to come up with a number of eye-catching initiatives to portray controversial PR activity in a positive light. It is understood that one idea under consideration involves linking defected Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa to popular Greek dish moussaka in a bid to give him a more friendly image with mums and families. 'The Mumsnet-style audience is recognised as the most influential in this area,' the source said.

The news comes as top firms such as Bell Pottinger, Brown Lloyd James, Portland and Grayling are coming under intense scrutiny because of their work for foreign governments or in regimes of dubious repute.

Sources from the PR Action Taskforce, or PRAT as it will inevitably become known, said that Bell Pottinger, Brown Lloyd James, Portland and Grayling had all been invited to join on discount rates.

A reduced rate has also been offered to Cohn & Wolfe, in recognition of its recent work for Asian Pulp & Paper, an Indonesian paper firm fighting Greenpeace deforestation claims.

The PRCA described the new development as a 'major scandal'. The CIPR declined to comment on the new taskforce until its sub-committee on ethics had approved and signed off an official statement.

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