THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Is it acceptable to hire a new agency without telling the existing one?

Gencor’s hiring of Lowe Bell Financial last week came as a surprise to College Hill

Gencor’s hiring of Lowe Bell Financial last week came as a surprise

to College Hill

Jem Miller

PRCA Professional Practices Committee

’We are in a service business as PR companies and we have to accept that

the client can do what they want to do. This has happened to me both

ways - it’s part of life’s rich pattern. I don’t think there is an

ethical issue here. Anybody who hires any service is under no obligation

to say what they are going to do next. To suggest that they should be

under an obligation is commercially faulty. The number of times where

both agencies are kept on is as common as the sun rising in the


Paul Kafka

Fidelity Investments

’It is not something I would ever do. It really doesn’t make good

communications sense. Communications for a large corporation is

difficult enough. If you have two agencies working for you how can you

possibly manage a unified communications programme? It has to be a

conscious decision not to tell the other party.’

Stephen Pain

Severn Trent Water Limited

’Under normal circumstances it is not acceptable, because if one wants

to hire then the existing agency has a right to know why the change is

happening. There are certain exceptional circumstances. Where there are

conflicts of interest for the public relations agency it’s fairly

inevitable, but that has no professional bearing on either of the

agencies. In some ways, the larger and better the agency the more likely

it is to happen.’

Deborah Botwood-Smith

Coutts and Co

’I think that agencies have got to be realistic. The days of using one

PR agency for everything are no longer with us. However, you do have an

obligation to treat any service supplier honourably. It’s also

positively dangerous to bring another agency in without telling the

existing one - the incumbent PR agency will still take calls and it’s

going to confuse everybody.’

Brian Basham

Basham and Coyle

’It’s simple. You pay the fees, so it’s up to you what you do. If the

public relations consultancy doesn’t like it, then it is up to them to


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