Public affairs consultancy Mercer PR, who this week came under fire for including an alleged victim’s name in a media distribution, has said it’s considering its legal position against the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) after the industry body released a statement condemning the actions of Mercer PR.
The statement from Mercer PR was released online Friday morning, saying: “Our client – not our company – merely provided background information from a police investigation to a very few media outlets who we understood already knew the details. The media release sent generally by our client via our office did not contain her name.
“Furthermore our company has acted legally and ethically at all times and we reject any claim to the contrary. We are considering our legal position in regard to the defamatory statement issued by PRIA.”
Read the full statement here.
PRIA has responded to the statement from Mercer PR, saying: “PRIA receives queries, from a range of publics, on the topic of ethics regularly and we received a number of queries during the past week. It is our duty as the professional body to highlight the constant need for ethical conduct and to work within requirements for privacy.”
On Wednesday PRIA released a statement about Mercer PR’s decision to include the police report about an alleged assault victim (which included the victim’s name) in its distribution to the media. The media statement itself apparently did not include the woman’s name. It was in the police report attached.
PRIA’s statement said in part: “The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) has received enquiries regarding the release of personal details by a PR consultancy of an alleged victim of abuse in Nauru. While this is an international matter and currently under investigation by authorities, the ethical implications deserve a direct response.
“PRIA strongly condemns the distribution and publication of any material that involves an invasion of privacy for any individual. The release of personal information that causes harm or distress to any person is strictly in breach of our Code of Ethics which binds our members to adherence of agreed standards of behaviour.”
Various media articles have circulated online, with much criticism directed at the agency.
At the time, Lyall Mercer, founder of Mercer PR, told B&T the media reports about the company were “highly inaccurate” and “sensationalised”.
Within the statement from Mercer PR this morning, the agency reiterated this sentiment. “Reports this week about a media release sent on behalf of our client – the Government of Nauru – have been inaccurate, sensationalised and in the cases of some of the articles talking about our company, puerile.”