In a move that won’t exactly endear him to London’s flack community, entrepreneur and ‘business guru’ Guy Kingston is on the hunt for ‘Britain’s Worst PR agent’. Kingston, who made his money in Russia, reckons he’s had more trouble with UK PR agencies than he ever did with dodgy business types in post-Soviet Moscow, and he’s set up a forum on his Mind Your Own Business website so disaffected clients can share their PR horror stories.
Kingston, a former stockbroker, went to Moscow in 1993 to set up PXPost, which apparently became Russia’s biggest private mail operator. But he says the challenges he faced there were nothing compared to his battles with silver-tongued spinners back here in the UK. ‘Having had my time and money wasted by seven different agents in just over a year I think the PR agencies in the UK need to wake up to reality,’ he rants.
So what exactly has made him so hopping mad? Costs, for one thing: ‘Most seem to spend their time clocking up hours on projects they have invented for you rather than concentrating on delivering the results that you need’, he says. Empty promises is his other big gripe: ‘They will promise you lots of media coverage then when it doesn’t appear they simply blame you.’
Kingston, who reckons the big London agencies and the smaller regional shops are just as bad as each other, says he is hoping that by naming and shaming the worst offenders he can persuade the industry to raise its game. And he wants companies to be more wary of the warning signs when they’re working with PR agencies – or to cut them out of the loop altogether and do their own PR.
All well and good, but we can’t help feeling he might be getting a little carried away with his theme. The first PR agent, according to his website, was Antiphon of Rhamnus who was condemned to death, while the last will be ‘the False Prophet who, according to the Book of Revelation, will persuade the whole Earth to worship the Beast... The False Prophet and the Beast will then be thrown together into the Lake of Fire. Many who have dealt with PR agents will feel that there is something appropriate about the fate of the first and the last of the breed.’
Call us wet liberals, but that seems a little excessive to us...
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Editor's blog: I Don't Know How He Does It, Part Three
PRs to be thrown into the Lake of Fire?