Yesterday we pondered if the PR folk working for now collapsed and disgraced German giant Wirecard deserved the heat they were getting.
I think they probably did, but there is an argument to be had here.
One question that arises is: how much due diligence are PR agencies supposed to do on potential clients?
Well, surely some, but if Goldman Sachs, Clifford Chance and PwC are already satisfied that a business is legit, why shouldn’t, say, FTI think the same?
Perhaps the answer is that we just assume that bankers, lawyers and auditors are for hire by anyone with a cheque book and a plausible manner, but that the PR trade might be more honest.
I think bankers and lawyers lie all the time, just constantly. I don’t think PRs do.
See, we think more of you than we let on.
Another reason PR firms might get more of a kicking when a client goes bad than they used to is a degree of solidarity between newspapers.
The flak industry so outnumbers the hack trade these days that when there is a chance to show our independence, to demonstrate that we needn’t rely on you, we have to put the boot in.
One more thought. Maybe agencies taking on dodgy clients is just a sign of the times.
An old timer says: “In the old days it was not uncommon for PR firms to turn down business if they thought it was dubious – especially in the small-cap sector. That was because there was always plenty of work to go around and nobody suffered too much if they turned away a piece of work. They don’t have that luxury anymore.”