THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Should political candidates hire their own PR agencies?

Irish MEP Bernie Malone has hired Bill O’Herlihy’s agency for her re-election bid

Irish MEP Bernie Malone has hired Bill O’Herlihy’s agency for her

re-election bid

Robbie MacDuff

Strategy in Scotland

’I think it’s inappropriate for an individual candidate to approach a PR

agency for profiling during an election campaign. Electoral expenses are

usually limited so it’s difficult to see the value in it and electoral

law can be complicated. There needs to be consistency in the campaign

and materials and hiring an agency undermines that. It has the potential

to divorce candidates from the party they represent and which selected


Margo McDonald

Scottish Parliament candidate

’Promoting a candidate has to be different to promoting a product or

service. An MP is neither a product, service or even a personality, so

they shouldn’t be in that marketplace. I think it’s something a

political party itself should be able to promote. However, I do think

there is a place for professional agencies to advise a party as a


David Hill

Bell Pottinger Good Relations

’The issue for politicians is how well they understand the systems of

communication. It is important (for a politician) to work well with the

staff they have to assist them with communications and advice. If they

feel the political party they represent does not provide the help and

advice they need, then they should look elsewhere.’

Bride Rosney

Bill O’Herlihy Communications

’Bernie’s situation was a particular case. She lost her press officer

one month ago and only has three months until the election, so she did

not have the opportunity to replace him - it would have been hard to get

someone for that length of time. A lot of independent MPs here do not

have the support of a party, but in an ideal situation, a party member

should use their party’s PR. I think all politicians would prefer to

have their own permanent person on staff.’

Peter Hamilton

The Communication Group

’It’s a sign of the times. The intense scrutiny of the media is making

people, whether they be politicians or members of the Royal family, feel

the need to hire PR specialists. This kind of situation can arise when

an individual politician feels strongly about an issue that is affecting

them and the party machine is not able to serve that politician’s

personal needs. But hiring an agency would make life extremely difficult

for both the party and politician.’

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