PR is about the framing of ideas and winning people around to your point of view.

Get the positioning of your new employment policy right and you might land a sympathetic hearing for your plan. But get it wrong and it may never get off the ground.

Rarely has this been better illustrated than in the news coverage of the facial recognition software developed to monitor the thousands of City employees forced to work from home during lockdown.

Financial News, the Dow Jones-owned news site, broke the story that accountancy firm PWC had developed such software to log employee absences.

Compliance rules in the City exist for good reason. The likes of Nick Leeson, Jérôme Kerviel and John Rusnak lost their respective institutions billions of pounds thanks to rogue trades.

Dubious dealings in the years running up to the financial crisis of 2008 led to demands for greater scrutiny, for records clearly showing how and why decisions had been made.

As a result, bankers are used to the idea of their work and communications being monitored, reluctantly accepting it as a necessary evil in the office.

Placed within that framing – that compliance needs to cover you when working from home too – PWC’s software does not seem an unreasonable leap.

But spin the argument around and change the language and it suddenly seems very unreasonable indeed.

One person’s “safeguarding of personal time” is another person’s “huge intrusion on privacy”.

George Stylianides, the PWC partner chosen to speak with the press, no doubt sensed the way the story was going when asked by Financial News if the new tech would capture bathroom breaks.

He responded with some circumspection: “There is that danger, of course, there is with all these things. This is about how you tune it to actually find the information that you’re looking for without being too intrusive on people.”

A cautious answer, but not an unequivocal “No”. And certainly not enough to stave off the headline “PWC under fire for tech that tracks traders’ loo breaks”.

The story revealed that traders would have to provide a written explanation for breaks from their screen of more than a few seconds and focused heavily on concerns over the privacy rights of employees.

The story was followed up in The Times and The Telegraph with similarly negative headlines, including the stark “Is your boss spying on you?”

Faced with this negative coverage, it is not surprising that PWC has already been forced to ditch the element of the software that tracked background noise.

A development in working policy that creeps into employees’ homes and private lives is always going to be controversial – no PR in the world could change that.

But PWC could, perhaps, have packaged the innovation differently.

It could have been armed with figures estimating the vast sums of money that have been lost in recent years as a result of weak compliance.

It could have lined up an independent, credible expert to put its side of the argument and explain why, on the sliding scale of privacy versus compliance, this software was a reasonable compromise.

It could have shown evidence that it had consulted extensively with privacy campaigners during the development of the software to take into account their concerns.

And it should definitely have prepared for the tricky questions which any journalist worth their salt would ask, starting with the entirely predictable inquiry about loo breaks.

Don’t be surprised when this software or similar is eventually rolled out – but perhaps with a more rigorous comms plan.