Will our ‘golden goose’ inadvertently become a blessing for the public relations profession?

A recent Security Exchange Commission investigation on an insider trading scam, innocently involving a Brunswick New York manager, spurs calls for the regulation of the public relations profession.

Nina Devlin, an experienced pr professional specialised in acquisition and new listing activities on behalf of clients of the highly reputed Brunswick firm, has been temporarily suspended without pay by her employer when an investigation by the SEC accused her husband Mathew (a trader for Lehman Brothers) of passing confidential information on at least 12 recent cases in which his wife was involved to other insider traders, accumulating some 5 million dollars of net profit in the last four years.

No charge has been specified by the SEC against the Brunswick manager.

The successful and reputed financial pr firm assigned a law firm to conduct an internal investigation on the case, informed its clients of the incident and, according to Jack O’Dwyer’s newsletter, sofar only Dow Chemical has decided to ‘temporarily withdraw its dealings with the consultancy’.

The three insider traders used the term ‘golden goose’ to define our colleague as she innocently conversed with her husband at home.

The Financial Times of December 19 and 20 had five significant mentions of the case. See here

As one may read, apart from the ironic reference to Brunswick’ crisis management ability being tested on itself, as financial pr consultants -given the current market situation- are desperately trying to convince clients of how effective they are also in dealing with crisis and reputation management, the FT indicates that there are no barriers of entry to get into a profession which is successfully arguing it should sit at the same executive table together with accountants, lawyers and bankers who, to the contrary, all have barriers of entry.

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3 Replies to “Will our ‘golden goose’ inadvertently become a blessing for the public relations profession?

  1. Bankers have barriers to entry? Not in the United States, and apparently not in Europe, either, judging from all the private banks that gave their clients’ money to Bernie Madoff.
    I would say that entry barriers for bankers are perhaps even fewer than for PR people. I recall the investment banker Herb Allen saying once that he could teach his dogs the investment banking business over a long weekend.

  2. It struck me that this insider trading scam would make a great movie. But let’s not beat ourselves up too much as an industry. Lawyers, bankers and accountants have had similar embarrassments, despite their regulated status. That said, let’s face facts. The current recession was caused by a failure of professionalism on many fronts. We in the PR industry have to accept our share of responsibility for contributing to the decline in trust, low confidence and widespread cynicism that bedevils society. But Nina Devlin and her husband Matthew are just a sideshow. Here’s a link to something I wrote that might interest you: http://paulseaman.eu/2008/12/mr-devlin-the-golden-goose-the-movie/

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