NEW YORK: Sloane & Company CEO Elliot Sloane withdrew his agency's membership in the Council of PR Firms Wednesday following Council president Kathy Cripps' comments defending Ketchum in a New York Times story.
"The reaction of the Council... disappointed me, because I would expect that the trade organization that represents our industry would be more forceful in talking about guidelines, roles and responsibilities, and ethics," Sloane said.
In the Times article published Wednesday, Cripps said that Ketchum's contract to promote the "No Child Left Behind" act by paying a commentator $240,000 did not violate the Council's code of ethics because the onus for full disclosure rested on Armstrong Williams, not the agency.
By contrast, PRSA president Judith Phair called Ketchum's situation "a shame, disturbing and harmful."
"The Council does not represent my firm's views, our thinking, or the thinking, potentially, of many others in the industry," said Sloane.
He added that he had not received any communication from the Council regarding its stance on the Armstrong Williams issue. "One would think that an effective advocacy group would be in touch with its members," he said.
Cripps did not immediately return a call seeking comment. But in an interview with PRWeek earlier this week, she said, "I don't think Ketchum is culpable." She added, "These public education campaigns are important."
"This has been a long time coming," Sloane said. "I just felt at the end of the day, having seen these quotes, I realized that they are just never going to stand up to the degree of potentially harming some of their larger members."
"I've been concerned that the Council, over the last few years, has not been an effective voice for the entire industry," he added, "focusing on the large agencies to the detriment of the entire industry."