Thursday, 1 April 2010

PRCA-Bell Pottinger Public Affairs. Setting the Record Straight

Let's set the record straight re the PRCA and Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, shall we?

There are a couple of suggestions floating around today that somehow BPPA won't actually be listing their clients, despite joining the PRCA. These suggestions have already been rebutted by Peter Bingle and by me, but let's give it another go eh?

Let me be as blunt about this as I can be -and as is allowed by the constraints of polite language.

These suggestions are absolute rubbish.

There is no special deal; no unique exemption. There is no hidden meaning; no covert agenda.

BPPA will declare all of their clients in the same transparent, voluntary and open way that every other PRCA member does. Like every other PRCA member, there will be an incredibly limited, exceptional ability for them to request that they should not declare a particular client where to do so would be illegal; would place employees in physical danger; would breach national security restrictions. If they make any such request, they will have to provide evidence to support it.

This exemptions clause exists now, and matches the one offered by the APPC, and the one that the CIPR's new model of transparency will offer too. It is sensible, limited and ethical. It will be backed up and validated by the UK Public Affairs Council.

The thing that is certainly not sensible is to treat BPPA's decision to join the PRCA -and to embrace our rigorous disclosure demands- as something other than a very significant and positive moment. This was a big decision for BPPA, taken personally by Peter Bingle and Tim Bell; it is a significant boost to the self-regulatory model that the great majority of us support.

So my simple message is this. BPPA is a first-rate, ethical, transparent company, and I am delighted to welcome them to the PRCA.

Maybe just for once, perhaps, just perhaps, we could try and embrace good news for what it is, rather than always trying to find some hidden deceit within it?

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