This past summer, a great deal of the buzz coming from the 2012 London Olympics centered on South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. Stepping onto the track with two prosthetic legs, Pistorius captivated audiences with his incredible determination to compete and left the world in awe of his effortless dashes around the track. However, on February 14, 2013, people all over the world were shocked to hear that Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend.
A little over a week ago, South African public relations firm, Vuma Reputation Management, announced that it would no longer represent Oscar Pistorius. Janine Hills, head of Vuma Reputation Management, felt that the Pistorius family was in a “stronger position” to handle media issues, although Vuma will continue to provide guidance.
One question comes to mind when faced with an issue like this: Is there a time when it is appropriate to cut ties with a client? Simply put, yes. In the case of Oscar Pistorius, Vuma Reputation Management felt that they had done everything they could to help Pistorius and his family, and had prepped them to handle the media themselves. Due to the murder accusations against Pistorius, there is only so much a firm can do to help the image of their client because of the severity of the crime.
Additionally, it is important for a firm to consider whether or not the client has breached their ethical or moral code of conduct. If Oscar Pistorius is found guilty, he will have committed an illegal act. A public relations firm does not want to damage their own reputation to support a criminal and has to decide if it’s worth risking the company name.
Cutting ties with a client does not always have to be a nasty experience. Overall, it’s about being honest with them. If you feel that you can do nothing more to help a client, it’s best to suggest that he or she is served by someone else, and help them in trying to find a new firm. In the case of Oscar Pistorius, a “handover process” has been underway since the first week in March.
Do you think Vuma Reputation Management did the right thing by severing their client relationship with Oscar Pistorius? Comment and let us know what you think!
This guest blog post was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Tessa Cohn.