Can it ever be right to name and shame?

This is a debate that has rumbled for many years and will carry on for many years to come. Is it right for journalists to name (and effectively shame) PRs for shoddy work?

Last week respected journalist Sally Whittle revealed on her blog how she had been in the receiving end of an over eager PR who was angry about a client not being covered in story.

I’m sure many of you have seen the post. This kicked off a debate on Twitter as to whether Sally ought to call out the person (or their agency) publicly or just have a quiet word with the culprit’s boss.

Personally I’m in the name and shame camp. While I accept that it’s unfair for journalists to ‘ruin’ the careers of PRs by calling them out whever they make a boo boo, there is a difference between an error of judgement and completely lacking any common sense.

PRs constantly bemoan the poor reputation the industry has but unless we collectively call out bad practice, my fear is that nothing will change. When doctors, lawyers and accountants make errors they run the risk of being struck off their professional bodies or having their licenses revoked. Now I’m not saying what this person did was so grave that they shouldn’t work in PR again but it does raise the issue of having a collective set of professional guidelines by which we should all abide by.

Reputation is the currency is which PRs trade and if a PR is unaware of how their actions will affect the reputation or their client or agency then perhaps a harsh reality check is in order.

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One thought on “Can it ever be right to name and shame?

  1. Woahhh, that’s harsh! Everyone is entitled to make the odd mistake now and again. Fine, if they’re old enough and ugly enough to know better then maybe naming and shaming is OK. But for a newbie, surely a word in the shell-like of their boss is the way to go.

    If they still don’t learn then by all means throw them to the wolves….

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