Did Bell Pottinger contradict everything PR SHOULD stand for?

Did Bell Pottinger contradict everything PR SHOULD stand for?

An International PR firm in South Africa was at the centre of a scandal over stirring up racial tensions on behalf of one of the country’s most powerful families, the Gupta family.


Public relations hinges on trust. If you can’t trust the consultancy representing you as well as its judgements and decisions, then the relationship cannot be fruitful. Clients and key opinion leaders need to be able to trust the representative is telling the truth.

Bell Pottinger, who resigned the Gupta account in April, was accused of creating fake Twitter accounts to target prominent white business people in South Africa – certainly not a trustworthy action.


Kinetic’s central value is sincerity which is why we Harvard-reference much of our content. Yes, we put a client’s ‘best face forwards’ but we’re always able to substantiate our standpoints because the best relationships are trustworthy ones.

The recent report found the PR firm used many unethical tactics – including misleading journalists – as part of its campaign and thereby breached both the CIPR and PRCA codes of conduct.


A PR representative ‘worth their salt’ must care deeply about their client knowing that they are handling their most precious asset as well as the media they look to influence.

An independent report[1] into the events at Bell Pottinger found that South Africa’s main opposition party accused the PR firm of composing a campaign to exploit racial tensions on behalf of the holding company of the Gupta family.

Bell Pottinger, which was being paid £100,000 a month by the Guptas’s Oakbay company[2], tried to corrupt the South African election result by stoking economic differences. Such behaviour by the firm bringsthe PR industry into disrepute which is why the PRCA recently  expelled them.

V + C = P

The above formula means

Visibility + Credibility = Profitability.

No one will dispute Bell Pottinger had profile but it experienced a crushing lack of credibility due to the South Africa episode and today (13.09.17) Bell Pottinger had the ultimate punishment as its customers left and when it went into receivership.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/13/bell-pottinger-pr-industry-hearing-secret-south-africa-campaign

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/sep/05/bell-pottingersouth-africa-pr-firm



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