PRCA ‘takes no pleasure’ in Bell Pottinger going into administration

Written by David Singleton on 12 September 2017 in News

News comes as PR professionals are accused of 'gleefully dancing on the grave' of Bell Pottinger.

Bell Pottinger has collapsed into administration in the UK, it has been confirmed.

Administrators BDO said the PR firm had been "heavily financially impacted" by the scandal that arose when it found was running a racially charged PR campaign in South Africa.

The latest development comes one week after Bell Pottinger was expelled by the PRCA following its investigation into the firm’s work for Oakbay Capital in South Africa.

Responding to news of the administration, PRCA director general Francis Ingham said: “The PRCA takes no pleasure in the collapse of Bell Pottinger.

"The majority of those employed by Bell Pottinger bear no responsibility for the company’s actions in South Africa. They have been caught up in an ethical crisis that is not of their making. We hope that they will find new positions with ethical employers shortly.

"We are clear however that expelling Bell Pottinger was the right thing to do. Our Committee and Board were unanimous in concluding that Bell Pottinger had broken both our Professional Charter and our Public Affairs and Lobbying Code of Conduct. They were clear that the only appropriate sanction was immediate expulsion.

"The vast majority of the PR and communications industry is ethical and professional. By taking decisive action, we have shown that Bell Pottinger’s actions are the exception not the rule; and shown that PRCA self-regulation is decisive and effective."

Meanwhile some senior lobbyists have hit out at PR professionals for revelling in the demise of Bell Pottinger.

In a blog post published just before news of the administration was confirmed, former Burson Marsteller chairman Mike Love stated: "I am sad that so many people who work in PR are so gleefully dancing on the (almost certainly soon to become) grave of a once great agency. Work at this end of PR is always work in the shadows and of many shades of grey. It is never black and white."

The Conservative lobbyist, who has also headed up public affairs for Microsoft and McDonalds, added: "In my opinion, those who criticise Bell-Pottinger with such black and white certainty of their own convictions either are very clever and insightful people who are better at spotting such problems without hindsight than I am, or they are people who have never worked at this end of the trade.

"It is a rough trade, and will always be so. I do not condone Bell-Pottinger’s actions in South Africa or the seeming lack of governance that allowed it. But I see the demise of a great business with the best people as a matter for sadness not delight.

"It seems to me that many people who work in PR have been quick to jump on the oh so ethical bandwagon of self-righteousness, keen to kick a competitor when they are done. But in reality (not just perception) everybody knew the kind of work that made Bell-Pottinger great."

The same sentiment was also expressed by fellow Tory lobbyist and former Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chair Peter Bingle. He tweeted: "The demise of the once great Bell Pottinger is a very sad day for the PR industry. A great company destroyed by idiots. No more gloating..."


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