I was taken to task recently for not writing about A4e on a blog devoted to A4e. As I said at the time, there is no news about A4e. But, when you think about it, that in itself is noteworthy.
I started the original website (which A4e got closed down) and then this blog because A4e had a very high profile, and I believed, drawing on my own experience, that the reality didn't match the hype. And the reality needed to be out there. Others obviously agreed. But the tide of publicity rolled on, as did the number of contracts scooped up by the company. Allegations of fraud had little impact, except to raise the profile even higher. Emma Harrison revelled in all the publicity, basking in the glow of her own celebrity, collecting her CBE and being appointed adviser to government. Her fall from grace came suddenly and unexpectedly, and the new bosses had to pick up the pieces. That meant seeking as little publicity as possible, a strategy that was common sense as well as, surely, the advice of the PR person brought in to help, George Bridges of Quiller.
It worked for a while. But then Harrison was lured back into the limelight by Channel 4 News, and gave that car crash of an interview. Less spectacular, but of no help at all, was the behaviour of Jonty Olliff-Cooper, with his offensive tweets. But the publicity dies down, and no one apparently cares any more.
But it's a different world out there for A4e. The competition is much fiercer in those sectors they used to find most profitable. The contracts aren't just handed to them any more. Companies have come in from overseas, and the really big guns here - Serco, G4S, Capita - have spread their tentacles into what was once A4e's core business. The smaller-scale stuff from local councils has dried up. The last financial results available, as of March 2012, showed A4e in trouble.
So we carry on watching A4e, wondering if the company will even survive.