Would you help out the BNP?

Posted on 28/06/2011


There can’t be many PR assignments which every agency in the country would turn down, but surely helping the far-right British National Party would be one of them.

Sadly, for one company, helping the BNP  is just another way to earn a quick buck.

Regardless of its poor election showings and internal strife, the BNP has been professionalising its PR campaign against the ‘lying mainstream media’ (this is sourced from the BNP site here).

And, according to the party’s national communications officer, it has now enlisted the help of a company which will give the BNP:

… access to an international database of media contacts, containing some 1.4 million journalists and other news outlets, this was obtained through the generous donations of party members and supporters.

In other words, they are paying money to one of the media database companies. These are the same companies which work for PR agencies and, even in PR-land, some ethics still remain.

There can’t be many agencies (or indeed in house teams) that would want to be associated with a supplier who thought it was OK to take cash to help the BNP create:

a regional press release system utilising the constantly updated data… [to] allow our press officers to generate publicity and drive the party into the news.

So, who is this supplier?

One of the UK’s leading operators is DW Pub, but their founder Daryl Willcox said:

The BNP tried to use one of our services some years ago but we declined to serve them.

We take issues like this very seriously as there is a need to balance freedom of speech, and therefore access to the media, with other ethical standards.

We wouldn’t as a matter of course refuse access to our services to any organisation on the basis that their activities may be ‘unpopular’, but in the case of the BNP their fundamental stance is so at odds with British cultural and ethical values that we would draw the line at this organisation.

Additionally, UK-based databases normally claim access to 40,000 journalists in their directories rather than the 1.4m the BNP claim, and both Gorkana‘s director Celina Maguire and PR Max‘s Don Clark confirmed it isn’t them.

So, let’s look at the international players. Vocus is a NASDAQ listed company, with 1.4m contacts on their database – and who are looking to build on their presence in the UK. But, their spokeswoman commented:

We can confirm we did not donate or endorse our software to the BNP.  Vocus is available for sale only, it can be purchased by any group, but we do not filter prospective clients because of their political, social, fiscal or religious views.  However I can confirm the BNP are not clients.

Cision‘s Mediadisk claims 1.5m media contacts, but a spokeswoman also denied it was them. Which leaves MediaAtlas, owned by global press release distribution giant PR Newswire. Their spokeswoman confirmed that:

The British National Party (BNP) are not, and have never been a client of PR Newswire Europe.

So now I’m asking for your help – as it’s difficult to call for a boycott of a supplier without knowing their name (and the BNP rarely reveal their suppliers).

Can you suggest any other potential companies to investigate? Should I ask any follow up questions to the suppliers above?

Either post a comment below, tweet me or email me at simonfrancis1977 at gmail dot com.