British multinational PR and marketing firm, Bell Pottinger has been expelled from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), following an investigation into its work for Oakbay Capital in South Africa. Bell Pottinger’s membership has been terminated with immediate effect and the company won’t be eligible to reapply for PRCA’s corporate membership for a minimum period of five years.
Following a complaint from the Democratic Alliance, the investigation revealed that Bell Pottinger breached four clauses under the PRCA Professional Charter and Public Affairs and Lobbying Code of Conduct, and that the firm’s campaign could possibly induce racial tensions in South Africa.
“Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions, and it has received the harshest possible sanctions,” Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA. “The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour. This outcome reflects the huge importance that PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications.”