ANALYSIS: BIG QUESTION; Who should be responsible for PR blunders - agency or client?

Beverley Kaye The Rowland Company

Beverley Kaye The Rowland Company

‘The blame should be apportioned fairly. However agencies can set

themselves up by not clearly checking and confirming all procedures

beforehand such as the clarity of brief, action to be taken and material

to be put out to the media. If agencies don’t check, confirm and spoon-

feed, they lay themselves open to take the rap when headlines turn out

to be not quite what the client was expecting.’

Alison Moran Daewoo Cars’

‘The buck stops in-house. It has to be the responsiblity of the client.

If you are controlling agencies then they shouldn’t be doing

inappropriate things on your behalf. Everything should be signed off.

Decisions are not taken lightly especially when they involve massive

costs. Everything that bears the company’s name should be in line with

company strategy and philosophy.’

Alexis Coles Thomas Cook’

‘The agency is as good as its brief. I believe to make a public

relations company really effective and proactive you have to put a hell

of a lot of trust in them and involve them in company business. However

with a big brand it is vital to have an approval mechanism in place.

There is no way anyone could send information out without approval. You

have to protect as much as promote. I empathise with BT because when you

have a brand as big as BT or Thomas Cook, issues like this get picked

up, whereas smaller companies don’t make the news.’

Addie Churchill Talk Loud PR

‘I don’t think there are any excuses for making an administrative cock-

up. This is where agency procedure has to take over, it’s as simple as

having a sign-off sheet. Agency staff should be terrified of breaking

the procedure. Everyone is responsible for their actions. PR agencies

are expected to be as intuitive as company employees but you just can’t

be. The golden rule is always cover your back.’

Paul Lockstone NatWest UK

‘The ultimate responsibility for the image of the organisation lies with

the client but I would want to believe its agency understands the

business well enough not to produce something wholly inappropriate to

its target audience. Between them they should ensure all material fits

with the company’s objectives and how it wants to see itself portrayed.’

The Big Question is edited by Lexie Goddard

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