Several weeks ago Raj Mandair of Westbourne Communications set up a public meeting on 17 July at Golden Lane Community Centre to discuss Taylor Wimpey’s plans to demolish Bernard Morgan House, a neighbourhood heritage asset in the City of London. Four days before the scheduled meeting took place, Mandair unexpectedly learned Taylor Wimpey no longer required his services and he wouldn’t be chairing this fiasco. Since Mandair’s employment was terminated at short notice we can conclude those paying him weren’t happy with the job Westbourne Communications were doing. PR companies tend to hype themselves up and deliver considerably less than they promise.
Replacing Mandair in Taylor Wimpey’s vandalism sweepstakes were Emma Waterfall and her sidekick Chris Ramsey from Cascade Communications. Their attempt at running a public meeting with some muppets from the construction industry proved as big a flop as anything Mandair had done. When Waterfall was challenged over the way she attempted to steamroller the meeting and block off discussion, she used the pathetic excuse she’d only got the account for the job she was barely managing to carry off four days earlier!
Cascade Communications and their golden shower of a boss have a lower profile than Westbourne Communications, but from the perspective of those being pissed on by PR and construction companies there isn’t anything to choose between them. Whether Taylor Wimpey will be any happier with Waterfall’s flailing efforts than Mandair’s inept clowning remains to be seen. We assume that one of Cascade’s attractions to the construction industry is that they are cheap in comparison to Westbourne. Public Affairs News of 14 November 2016 described Cascade Communications as:
A little-known property and planning public affairs specialist … The London based agency was founded by Bell Pottinger director Emma Waterfall in 2011 and has since grown to be a nine-strong outfit, whose “proudest achievements” include approvals for the iconic Battersea Power Station and two of London’s tallest new towers in Vauxhall.
So basically Waterfall sees herself as specialist in smoothing the path for obnoxious overdevelopment and doesn’t care about the fact that those living in council flats next to Taylor Wimpey’s planned Gerrymander Mansions will lose anything up to 70% of the light going into their homes; likewise this Pottinger bell end is heartless enough to overlook the development stealing sunlight from three schools and a heavily used park.
Cascade Communications managing director Emma Waterfall with Noddy.
According to PR Week of 3 January 2017: ‘Chris Parr, John Prescott’s former private secretary and Bell Pottinger veteran…’ helped Cascade Communications ‘founder and MD Emma Waterfall’ establish the agency in 2011. Public Affairs News of 11 July 2014 reported another former Bell Pottinger drone – Helen Silver – joining Cascade Communications three years ago. Other Cascade Communications employees include former Lambeth Liberal Democrat councillor Carita Ogden.
Judged on both the dominant personnel and how it operates, Cascade is very much a continuation of the Bell Pottinger-style of public relations under another name; and changes of identity are very necessary to these PR clones as their old monikers become discredited. This piece “Bell Pottinger pushed SA into jaws of kleptocracy. Can we claw country back?” from BizNews (18 July 2017) illustrates that:
For many in South Africa, Bell Pottinger has become a swearword, much like Gupta. References to both are now synonymous for what ails South Africa – corruption and state capture.
While the UK-based public relations firm is no stranger to South Africa, its current reputational damage, arising from the #GuptaLeaks, has forced it to terminate its lucrative contract with the Gupta family. The firm has also issued an ‘unreserved’ apology, which by all accounts, has gone down like a lead balloon.
Protest against Emma Waterfall & her colleagues’ old firm Bell Pottinger.
The fortunes of the Guptas are inimically linked to those of President Zuma in the literal and figurative sense. The disclosure by the former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, that he was offered a giant bribe to betray his boss, Pravin Gordhan, saw the beginning of an unravelling.
The well-heeled Gupta family, through its Oakbay firm, roped in the services of Bell Pottinger in a “fightback” operation, to repair and even, by some accounts, to upgrade the image of the family. This lucrative contract for Bell Pottinger raked in about R1.5 million a month for the company in addition to incidentals, including a fee of R5.5 million for a weekend’s work to lend support to the ANC and the MK Veterans. This matter of money was addressed in an article by BizNews (11 July 2017), “Ultimately this bill is being footed by the South African taxpayer, as the Guptas have undertaken a wide-ranging strategy – including pulling the levers of political power – to siphon funds from state entities”.
The strategy and tactics of the Bell Pottinger campaign was an overt one, to exploit the fault lines in the country. These tactics are best summed up in a media statement released by the Save South Africa Campaign on 6 July 2017 stating that, “Bell Pottinger – acting in partnership with its client – sowed racial mistrust, hate and race-baiting, and divided society. Through its work, this British company has further polarised South African society and left deep scars in our social fabric”….
Protestors outside Emma Waterfall’s old firm Bell Pottinger 14 July 2017.
These reprehensible PR activities in South Africa led to protests outside Bell Pottinger’s London HQ last week; but we should not forget that this firm’s objectionable lobbying and influence peddling operations also include it telling its clients it could get politicians – like former British Prime minister David Cameron – to speak to other international leaders on their behalf, spreading black propaganda against those it perceives as its enemies, gaming search engines and making false edits to Wikipedia pages. This is not just the culture but also the specific company Cascade Communications is most closely related to; and while Waterfall’s operations may be at a lower level and attract less attention than those of Westbourne Communications and Bell Pottinger, ultimately there is little to choose between them.
Companies House records show that Waterfall was born in October 1980 and is the sole officer/director of Cascade Communications. Alongside other family members, she is also a director of a firm her father fronts – Horse Requisites Newmarket Ltd; basically a shop selling riding tack and related items. This may or may not account for Emma Elizabeth Waterfall having about as much charisma as a bale of hay, and her sidekick Chris Ramsey not even that. Earlier this year Waterfall moved the registration inspection address for Cascade to what looks to be her home in a terraced house in Balham, south London. That said, publicity materials for Cascade trumpet their location as 26 Noel Street, London, W1F 8GY; a Soho address they share with Andrey Datsenko’s The Melt Room, a ‘casual cafe for American-style grilled cheese and other sandwiches.’ We always knew PR numpties were ultra-cheesy, and now we’ve got the proof!
Cascade Communications HQ, 26 Noel Street in London’s Soho.
NOTES: The BizNews piece “Bell Pottinger pushed SA into jaws of kleptocracy. Can we claw country back?” can be found in full here: https://www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2017/07/18/bell-pottinger-kleptocracy/
“Bell Pottinger has been summoned to appear at a hearing at the PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) next month following a complaint by the Democratic Alliance political party about its work with South African client Oakbay Investments”: http://www.prweek.com/article/1439744/prca-hold-hearing-bell-pottinger-oakbay-work-next-month
“Dodgy UK public relations firm Bell Pottinger recently said ‘sorry’ to SA and announced that it would launch a probe into its bad behaviour in South Africa. However, almost no South Africans accepted their apology and now civil society bodies want more answers. A group — including the Helen Suzman Foundation, Section27 and Save South Africa — has issued a lawyer’s letter to Bell Pottinger, demanding that details of the probe be made publicly available.” https://www.biznews.com/leadership/2017/07/18/lawyer-letter-bell-pottinger-sa-civil-society/