Events last week prompted me to write two blogs and it wasn’t surprising given what happened. Bell Pottinger expelled from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) was a significant moment and brought the issue of ethics into sharp focus.
Over the last 24 hours we have had it confirmed that the company has gone into administration. My heart goes out to the staff who have been caught up in this and now have lost their jobs. I would not wish that situation on anyone and particularly as I am sure many were in no way involved in the events that have led to the collapse of the company.
It is a reminder of the critical importance of reputation to any and all businesses and organisations. This is not for the protection of the reputation itself which could lead to perverse behaviours but more for what having a positive reputation brings. It can mean customers wanting to use the product or service, it can mean people willing to engage with the organisation and it can mean advocates for the business.
In some places managing reputation has become a ‘dirty’ phrase because of the connotation it has. We need to reclaim the definition so it shows it is done ethically and for the right outcomes for the customer or service user.
I agree with some commentators that while the events have cast a shadow over the world of PR and communication it has also given us a chance to move forward. This is a time to explain what we do, bring people into the industry, keep a focus on ethics and demonstrate we are stronger for the learning.