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Posts Tagged ‘Lord Bell’

Bell Pottinger Founders Buying Firm from Chime

Bell Pottinger founders Lord Bell and Piers Pottinger (also the names of my neighbor’s cats!) and other firm execs plan to pay £19.6 million in cash and company shares to purchase the namesake firm from Chime Communications. Shareholders will have their say on June 18. Talk about a buyout started a few months ago.

Shares of Chime stock increased nearly 10 percent with the news, though Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP CEO whose company is the largest shareholder in Chime, is opposed.

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PR Associations, British Government React to Bell Pottinger Scandal

Lord Bell

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the U.K.’s “advocate and voice of the public relations profession,” came out with its response to the Bell Pottinger scandal that unfolded (on video!) last week.

In a post on the CIPR Conversation blog, the CEO of the organization Jane Wilson said comments on the video show “poor judgment,” were “over-claiming” or “ill-informed,” and said PR can only be “seen as a strategic, senior management discipline” when “incidents such as this are a thing of the past.”

At the same time, Wilson defends PR and lobbying, saying that, as a former MP, Tim Collins, head of public affairs at the firm, would have strong government connections, and using them is something that other organizations, like philanthropic groups, do. Talking about the coverage in The Independent, Wilson writes, “There is a lot of what appears to be wilful misunderstanding or fake outrage at the use of what are in fact open and above board communications channels.”

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U.K.’s Bell Pottinger Caught On Video Offering its ‘Dark Arts’

Bell Pottinger MD Tim Collins was one of the execs caught on video.

U.K. lobbying firm Bell Pottinger is coming under fire for comments staffers made on a video gathered by journalists posing as reps from the government of Uzbekistan.

Reporters from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism posed as the reps to capture the execs talking up their relationships with government officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, discussing how they use “dark arts” like fake blogs to bury stories online, and the work they’ve done with other countries like Sri Lanka that have been charged with human rights violations. Uzbekistan has a reputation for child labor and other human rights violations as well.

Since the story came to light, the firm has also become embroiled with the phone hacking scandal with news that Bell Pottinger advised Rebekah Brooks on which police station she should go to for questioning, suggesting she avoid those that give too much access to the media.

You can watch the video here.

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Trouble for London PR Firms With Controversial International Ties

Anti-government protesters at Sanaa University in Yemen. Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad

A number of London’s PR firms, including Bell Pottinger, the biggest in Britain, have come under fire for representing controversial clients, the London Evening Standard reports. In the case of Bell Pottinger, its client list includes the Egyptian Ministry of Information, the Economic Development Board of Bahrain, and it once worked with the Yemeni government.

“No amount of media harassment or sensationalism is going to stop me representing clients that have a legitimate right to tell their story,” Lord Bell, head of the firm and former comms adviser to Margaret Thatcher tells the paper.
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Guardian Names London the ‘World Capital for Reputation Laundering’

In two separate articles published today, the Guardian boils down why London has become the “world capital of reputation laundering” for regime governments:

“If you are managing a client’s reputation, whether individual, company or country, it is the Anglo-Saxon media that matters and particularly the London-based media,” said Ivo Gabara, who advises the Kazakhstan foreign ministry on press relations in London. “Coverage in the US is important but what is said out of London will determine your global reputation.”

Work ranges from damage control for leaders, to more innocuous travel PR. Portland PR, Hill & Knowlton, Marston Nicholson, Morris International, and Chime plc and its Bell Pottinger division are all named as having lucrative contracts with governments including Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, Zambia, and Sri Lanka. All have poor human rights track records. According to the piece, Omar Bashir, the president of Sudan, approached two London firms to repair his image. No takers are mentioned.

Chime/Bell Pottinger is the biggest player in the space, and is also the most unapologetic, with chairman Lord Bell, Margaret Thatcher‘s former adviser, providing a quote in each article:

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