Bell Pottinger: We Own Our Choices - Ethics & Integrity in PR

"Morality is a job for priests,” Bell Pottinger, co-founder Tim Bell was quoted as saying in The New York Times’ recent article on the failure of the firm. “Not P.R. men.”  

In my latest article in I argue that, "morality, ethics and integrity, have a role to play in PR and communications."

Click here to read the full article

Bell Pottinger is a cautionary tale that reminds us when it comes to integrity and ethics, and let us not forget clients, that our choices matter.

And here's where it gets interesting – in the article I note that what we do is driven largely by incentives and behaviors we may not fully-understand.  As a result, it's easier than we might like to believe to go down slippery slopes.

The other big recent New York Times communications-related story, “The Follower Factory,” a powerful exposé of social media’s black market in followers, is a case in point.

I highlight one of the behavioral drivers that leads to tunnel thinking and a loss of perspective - the scarcity principle.  For a more detailed article on this see: Tunnels & Funnels:  Why We Make Bad Decisions & How We Can Make Better Ones.  

By understanding what may lead us astray, we have the opportunity to step back and look holistically and critically at the decisions we make.  When it comes to acting with integrity or ethically this is critical.

If we learn anything from Bell Pottinger it should be that smart people just like us can make very bad decisions. And, that incentives – generally, money – may result in us losing perspective and moral direction.

As I argue, we may not always recognize the forces leading us down the wrong path, but we all have the ability to stop and step back to decide if what we are doing is ethical or right.  In other words, we own our choices.


Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatchTM 


CommunicationsMatch is a free communications & PR agency search tool that help companies find, shortlist and engage communications agencies, consultants and freelancers by industry and communications expertise, location, size, women and diverse-owned agencies, membership organization and designation and more. The site offers agency search resources and a Next Day Crisis & Opinion Survey tool.  Prior to founding CommunicationsMatch, Locke held senior corporate communications roles at Prudential Financial, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank and founded communications consultancies.        


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