ST. LOUIS: Fleishman-Hillard has decided to drop the titles some employees use to identify themselves as employees of client SBC Communications.
The move is in response to a San Francisco Chronicle column, and subsequent controversy, chiding the agency and telecommunications company for not properly identifying agency employees as just that, instead of as employees of SBC. SBC outsources much of its PR to Fleishman and some agency employees have SBC titles. The Chronicle story accused the employees of misrepresenting themselves.
But Fleishman SVP Ed Presberg contends that that is not the case. The relationship is no secret in the PR industry or among the media, said Presberg, and this comes down to "one columnist who was confused."
To eliminate the potential for additional confusion, SBC will now identify Fleishman employees as consultants.
The move was applauded by PR groups including PRSA, the Council of PR Firms, and the Arthur W. Page Society.