Some people don’t deserve PR representation. The media isn’t a court of law, and if someone’s behaviour is beyond the pale then there is no reason why any agent should be willing to take their shilling.
During my time as a journalist on EN magazine we blacklisted a handful of “entrepreneurs” who we would never feature. This was a source of some bemusement to their PR agents, who rightly saw good stories and wondered why we wouldn’t run them.
The trouble is they didn’t know what we did. We didn’t have the legal proof to stand it up (and therefore inform the PRs in question, who I know would have been horrified) but we had heard, via sources we knew and trusted, that the businesspeople in question had burned suppliers.
Often our sources were photographers from whom the shysters in question had requested images taken during press shoots and then failed to pay the agreed sum for the rights. Ripping off a photographer is particularly despicable – the sums involved are never huge and for many of them it has become a precarious living at best.
Although the standard of proof required under libel law meant we couldn’t “name and shame” these individuals, we could at least do the second-best thing and not give them any further publicity that might encourage our readers also to fall victim to them.
I think this is important, and that PR agents should be careful about who they represent lest their own reputations be tarnished.
Not everyone would agree with me. I vividly remembered being told by Max Clifford, when I interviewed him in his pre-prison days, that other PR people didn’t like him because he would openly say that public relations was all about lying.
As he has demonstrated since, he was wrong. The truth has a habit of spectacularly coming back to bite you.