Tony Leon Columnist

Imagine you own a large and successful plumbing and sanitation company. You decide to go big with the launch of your new corporate headquarters. You invite your major clients and the media to the event. Then, moments after the event commences, disaster strikes. In full view of the assembled dignitaries, the pipes burst, spewing water all over the guests. Worse soon follows. Something goes wrong with your state-of-the-art sewerage system and a rank odour permeates the entire building, forcing all the guests to leave. Your business is pretty much ruined and you are in need of a massive reputation overhaul to repair your brand, along with the new building.Something similar just happened to the global corporate public relations firm Bell Pottinger. Its perceived area of expertise was building and promoting and, where necessary, restoring corporate brands for companies and individuals. It was none too fussy about its clients. Included on the list was the pitiless Chilean dictator Augusto...

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