LEADER – Some notes for the image conscious

Then Marks & Spencer released end of year figures that were a PR disaster. Once Luc Vandevelde had been mauled by the press, the consultants came under fire. The BBC’s Today programme fumed that M&S “was spending fortunes on a raft of management consultants brought in expressly to manage other management consultants”.

The merits or otherwise of consultants managing other consultants can be discussed elsewhere. But the consultancy industry does need to address the image problem that still exists. Apart from those in Management Consultancy, few positive (or, for that matter, neutral) stories appear in the wider press. What is it about the industry that breeds mistrust and wariness? Consultants may say, “our clients don’t feel that way”. Fine. But isn’t there a world beyond immediate and existing clients?

Advertising agencies cannot solve this problem. Branding experts cannot change a thing. PR departments are powerless. Consultancy needs to show itself a little more. Explain itself a little more. If the industry continues to operate in a “closed” environment, the bad press will continue.

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