PR agencies should know it’s the people that count

Contrary to speculation by JaxNYC I’m not “buried alive under all those CVs recently sent in…”, however we have had some very interesting applications which were slowly, but surely, getting through.

One of my 101 tasks at the moment is looking at updating the old company website and as part of my research I was interested to stumble across a story on How Do. It appears that veteran Manchester PR agency Communique is having a tantrum about an ex-employee setting up their own agency.

Communique PR, has retained the London office of law firm Hammonds, to demand that Vertigo PR and its founder and ex-Communique employee Natalie Bagnall, remove web site references (aka passing off) to clients and experience related to Communique and its clients.

Reading between the lines to try and figure out what it’s really all about my sympathies are probably with Bagnall. The Vertigo web site clearly states “With substantial past experience, members of our team have previously achieved outstanding award winning results for numerous companies.”

Where is the passing off? If the individuals worked for the clients listed then it’s their experience. One of my pet irritations is agencies claiming credit for client work or awards that we’re done by the agency, but where all or most of the team responsible has departed.

Who do you think still has the experience and is most likely to be able to replicate the success? It’s not the agency, it’s the people that did the work.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • JaxNYC

    First, glad to read you've survived your recruiting initiative… or "are surviving" I guess I should say as it appears the winning candidate with the golden ticket has not yet been found. Good luck…

    Now, on to the meat in the sandwich…. There's more than a little hypocrisy (not to mention sour grapes) to Communique PR getting their legal panties in such a twist over Bagnall making public representations as outlined about her previous client engagements.

    I'm willing to bet it wasn't the bold font use or the daring paper stock choice for her CV that first caught Communique's eye when Bagnall was being considered for a position there. It was undoubtedly the representations she made on that CV about her earlier responsibilities and accomplishments. Her experiences, if you will. With previous employers. Following me?

    As long as she is clear about when the work was done and under whose corporate banner, I cast my vote for Bagnall on this one.

  • http://www.greenbanana.wordpress.com Heather Yaxley

    Good post Stuart – and as I am sure you are checking with the mountain of CVs, it is always important to check under the claims of past glories.

    That applies equally when appointing a consultancy or individual employees. Provided claims relating to previous experience can be proven (and are not misleading), then they belong to those who made them happen.

    The consultancy can certainly show what has been achieved for former clients, but so can the people who worked on the campaigns in my view.

    It isn't so much about what has gone before though, but what can they do for the client now and in the future that counts.

  • http://eariam.blogspot.com/2007/05/lunatics-have-taken-over-asylum.html NIGEL HUGHES
  • http://www.freelancewritingtips.com Linda

    Oh, that's very very interesting.

    When I dipped my toe into PR work at a Birmingham agency, I worked with some high-profile clients and pitched for work that the agnecy won (that's what persuaded me I should be doing it for myself, but that's another story!) but I've never randomly promoted that experience as evidence I have been the right person for a PR job since founding my own company – though if we were asked to pitch to do work in a specific sector, then I'd mention that experience.

    It just didn't feel right to me to have such experience on our website though I have to admit it was tempting at the start.

    These days I have "gone back" to journalism while my very lovely and capable colleagues continue to work in marketing and media relations.

    In journalism of course I would say, "while working at X paper, I interviewed Jimmy Carter or whoever" – so to coin a phrase – what the hell was I thinking?

  • http://www.freelancewritingtips.com Linda

    Oh, that's very very interesting.

    When I dipped my toe into PR work at a Birmingham agency, I worked with some high-profile clients and pitched for work that the agnecy won (that's what persuaded me I should be doing it for myself, but that's another story!) but I've never randomly promoted that experience as evidence I have been the right person for a PR job since founding my own company – though if we were asked to pitch to do work in a specific sector, then I'd mention that experience.

    It just didn't feel right to me to have such experience on our website though I have to admit it was tempting at the start.

    These days I have "gone back" to journalism while my very lovely and capable colleagues continue to work in marketing and media relations.

    In journalism of course I would say, "while working at X paper, I interviewed Jimmy Carter or whoever" – so to coin a phrase – what the hell was I thinking?

  • http://www.freelancewritingtips.com Linda

    Oh, that's very very interesting.

    When I dipped my toe into PR work at a Birmingham agency, I worked with some high-profile clients and pitched for work that the agnecy won (that's what persuaded me I should be doing it for myself, but that's another story!) but I've never randomly promoted that experience as evidence I have been the right person for a PR job since founding my own company – though if we were asked to pitch to do work in a specific sector, then I'd mention that experience.

    It just didn't feel right to me to have such experience on our website though I have to admit it was tempting at the start.

    These days I have "gone back" to journalism while my very lovely and capable colleagues continue to work in marketing and media relations.

    In journalism of course I would say, "while working at X paper, I interviewed Jimmy Carter or whoever" – so to coin a phrase – what the hell was I thinking?

  • http://www.freelancewritingtips.com Linda

    Oh dear in triplicate and with a six year old pic too – sorry. :)

  • http://eariam.blogspot.com/2007/05/lunatics-have-taken-over-asylum.html NIGEL HUGHES