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Is cancel culture heading to the PR trade?

For an industry that is supposed to operate below the radar the PR industry is awfully good at getting into the news, especially lately.

Yesterday the FT did a really big number on “activists” who are targeting the PR firms they believe run greenwashing for fossil fuel giants.

This feels like a fair tactic, one you are surprised they didn’t alight on sooner.

Clean Creatives, the “activists” (I hate that word), has an F-list of PR groups it accuses of spreading “climate misinformation” for their clients.

One firm named is Edelman, where CEO Richard Edelman has found “zero examples of us erring on facts” but concedes a “lack of context” in its messaging.

Forget Edelman, who probably aren’t much different to anyone else. Indeed, the F-list includes nearly all big firms.

In many cases they are lobbying on issues that are matters of public policy, areas where there isn’t even widespread agreement on what the right “green” approach might be.

Even so, the industry has got several problems here.

For a start, it knows that on an area as sensitive as this “context” isn’t going to be what sticks anyway. And you one of the good guys or one of the bad, may be as far as it gets.

McKinsey has already found that working with polluters is a serious risk to its reputation and ability to hire talent.

For the right amount of money, the unscrupulous PR firm might say to its worst client “just blame everything on us”, but that doesn’t feel like a long-term survival strategy.

This feels like a key moment for the flak trade. Does it stick with the idea that all clients deserve proper advice, or does it decide that some are just not worth the risk?

Could the PR industry become targets of cancel culture?

Developing, as they say…

Interesting stuff here from Starling Bank on which company names play well and don’t.

Using numbers in a brand (Phones4U, 3M) aren’t popular, neither are those annoying e-something names.

Folk like companies named for something solid – a family name, a place or an animal.

There is a guide to coming up with a good name for a business.

See Press Release


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