Why PR Pros Shouldn’t Ambulance Chase

I read a tweet from PR pro Robert Dowling this morning regarding death threats the PR firm for controversial mother of eight Nadya Suleman has received:

@RobertDowling Suleman’s PR resigns after death threats http://budurl.com/48u7 Sounds like an excuse – PR pros cannot be bullied away from clients!

On this point, Robert and I disagree. I believe PR firms should expect to be called-out for taking on bad clients (although death threats obviously take this way over the line). The PR agency in this case, The Killeen Furtney Group, either (a) knew going in that this client would result in a backlash or (b) didn’t know, which makes their counsel questionable.

Unlike law, PR is not a right. Agencies must weigh their conscience when taking on new clients — paid or pro bono (in this case, I suspect the “pro bono” was instead free work in exchange for the visibility the agency knew the client would create). If an agency chooses to represent a controversial client, it must accept the consequences of associating itself (and, quite frankly, its team members) with the baggage and backlash attached to that client.

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