Just trying to get my head around the decision of Renault’s former PR manager, Graeme Holt to go public over the company’s handling of a vehicle problem that had been extensively covered by the BBC Watchdog programme. His comments reported by What Car? seem dramatic, but powerful coming from a public relations person.
I have known Graeme for many years as a member of MIPAA. I have also worked on customer relations issues in car manufacturers myself. In that role, you are employed to represent your organisation and communicate its perspective on an issue. Of course, you also have personal perspectives and would commonly express any concerns when the problem was discussed internally.
Not least from a PR perspective, counsel should be provided on the impact on corporate reputation (and vehicle sales) compared to the cost of any customer relations recall programme. In this case, the story has been picked up globally and even reported in the Renault Clio’s entry at wikipedia.
I don’t know much about the rights and wrongs of this particular situation, but expect it will be widely discussed in the automotive PR world. The issue does raise the question over when you might decide to put a personal principle over a corporate decision – and even more importantly, whether you would use your position as a PR person, with access to privileged information, to go public.