Transparency Haunts PR Firms Selling Corporate Social Responsibility

In a review of the role of PR firms in corporate social responsibility programs, Lisa Roner writes that "many early efforts to communicate on corporate responsibility have been high on production value and low on substance." Citing examples such as Hill & Knowlton's role in the first Gulf War and the more recent overbilling controversy that engulfed Fleishman-Hillard over its contracts with a Los Angeles government agency, Roner argues that PR companies have image problems of their own. "It appears PR firms may have to clean up their own ethics, since many corporate buyers seem to believe that a messenger with internal issues of its own may not be best placed to deliver a credible message," she concludes.