Mismanaging on-line identity – when cyber PR goes wrong!

sasquatch2The role of the publicity agent has changed. Celebrities have so much exposure via social media that it’s a 24/7 task just reading what’s being said about your clients, let alone controlling the message.

Quantity still trumps quality – the axiom that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” holds true; the likes of Klout  score your online influence by your mentions and the influence of those who mention you, not by what they say.

If you live your life by these measures you will surely end your days in the Priory . Fortunately most of us don’t, or that hospital would extend from Clapham to Richmond.


Last week a discussion was started on the  pension play pen linked in group by IQPC , a marketing organisation that promote conferences and conference speakers. The discussion promoted a talk to be given by Richard Butcher , Managing Director of Pitmans Trustees on “Fiduciary Management” and good governance .

What caught my eye was that Richard was being promoted as “Professor” Richard ButcherOBE“.

I commented on this on the discussion board, congratulating Richard on his new titles. Four days after my post I got a request from IQPC for me to take their post down. My comment had set them thinking and they now realised they had misattributed Richard both with the professorship and the OBE.

The post was taken down and a new one replaced it. Unfortunately the new one contained a link to the IQPC website which was still publishing Richard’s Professorship and OBE. I pointed this out to IQPC and note this morning that the website now makes no mention of these titles. But the legacy lives on as Linked in captures an  “excerpt” from the original.

So  Richard Butcher is still being promoted as a Professor with an OBE – and even if IQPC take it down from the Play Pen, their indiscretion lives on here!


Which for someone co-opted onto the NAPF benefits council as an expert in governance, is either hilarious or deeply worrying!

Fortunately Richard appears to be taking this in good heart and tells me has enjoyed his temporary titles.

I agree that the best way of dealing with misattributions is with a self-confident shrug and an immediate phone call to the source of the misattributions (not all of us have PR people!).

My colleagues have got used to teasing me about my being labelled an actuary and owner of First Actuarial – which (for the avoidance of doubt) is not the case.

But these are dangerous waters. Richard has been misrepresented on the PlayPen for nearly a week and apparently it was only my comment that caused IQPC to check the titles (I have no idea of the source).

Anyone who has been on twitter will have received Direct Messages from hacked accounts of friends informing them that “someone has been saying wicked things about you”.

It is our sensitivity to our online identity’s that makes us press the links and become prey to the virus within. It is our willingness to be promoted at every juncture that makes us vulnerable to misrepresentation – both benign and malign.

Being described as a Prof and having an OBE is benign, cyber-bullying, flaming and defamation is not.

The internet started out as self-policing. Many consider that those who try to harness its power deserve what they get when the means of promotion becomes a source of denigration. Today the internet is a wild-west saloon where Max Clifford stands in for Wyatt Earp.

The publicity agent (or Public Relations Officer as they now call themselves) is now a gun-for-hire, protecting their cattle from the new outlaws and desperadoes of cyberspace.

PR agent

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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