REPUTATION management is the core of public relations, yet the reputation of one of Britain’s most famous PR companies lies in tatters. Bell Pottinger once led the way in London’s booming PR business. Now the company is up for sale, and with clients and staff deserting in droves, it is unclear whether anyone will want to buy it. In PR-speak, the Bell Pottinger brand has become even more toxic than those of its more controversial former clients.
The scandal in its South African business that led to the firm’s downfall was exposed only slowly, but the end came terrifyingly fast. On September 3rd Bell Pottinger’s chief executive, James Henderson, resigned, the day before the publication of a damning independent report commissioned by the company into the work it undertook for Oakbay Capital, a holding company for the interests of South Africa’s powerful Gupta family. The following day the firm was expelled from the…Continue reading