The welcome actions of the PRCA against Bell Pottinger and its work on South Africa, is a reminder to everyone of the importance of reputation and ethical behaviour.
PR, along with lobbying, has long struggled to sort out its own reputation and for Bell Pottinger this is not their first offence.
There are no short-cuts to building and protecting a reputation. Consultants may need to 'educate' clients about what can and can't be done. There are clear codes of conduct and a wealth of best practice so there are no excuses. However lucrative a contract may be, ethics are permanent.
Some have questioned what will happen to the firm now but there are also decisions for its clients to make as well. What do they do to protect their reputations?
Bell Pottinger, one of the City’s leading public relations agencies, has been expelled from the industry’s trade association after an investigation found its secret campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa to be the worst breach of ethics in its history.