|July 19, 2010|
|Edelman at PRSA Today; McCormick Speaks|
|By Greg Hazley|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
Richard Edelman, head of the world's biggest PR firm, is attending the PR Society board meeting today in Atlanta in a move to get it to support removal of APR as a requirement for national board service.
Chair Gary McCormick thus far has said the board is neutral on the subject. He wants the Committee for a Democratic PRSA to follow the usual process of submitting a bylaw amendment that would be considered by the Assembly Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C.
Balderdash, we say! The Assembly will again be about three-quarters APRs and since when did any fox give up charge of any chicken coop?
The Society needs to go "cold turkey" in kicking its expensive (loss of at least $3 million), undemocratic, unfair, and debilitating APR habit.
Like a heroin, cocaine or alcoholic addict, the Society has seen its health suffer while mainlining the bogus APR credential.
Large numbers of corporate, agency, non-profit and educators have simply taken a hike from the Society, leaving it in the hands of those mostly in their own firms or small jobs and who have little time and less clout to affect what’s going on at h.q.
The board should right now throw open all the offices to any member who wants to run—paperwork to follow.
An Assembly could easily and quickly vote the needed bylaw changes by proxy. That’s just an administrative detail.
Members would run on the many key issues and not just their records of Society volunteer posts. It’s about time the Society lived up to the word “America” in its title.
Edelman Raps 'Unrepresentative' Leadership
Edelman, on his blog July 14, announced he would attend the board meeting today in an effort to end the "unrepresentative" leadership of the Society.
Only 3,870 of the current 20,657 members (18.7%) are APR but all the national leaders are, he noted. Only 904 members have become APR in the past six years, he also said.
The 2009 Assembly, by a vote of 142-111 defeated a proposal to allow non-APRs on the board. Such candidates were required to have 20 years in PR posts with ever higher degrees of responsibility.
Edelman faulted the APR exam itself, noting it is a 3.5-hour multiple-choice test that does not involve "a writing test or an examination of counseling skills."
Far better, he said, is the exam of the Institute of Management Consultants that demands three years of experience (none are required for the APR test); details from five clients on engagements; a written response to a case study; written and oral exams, and an exam on ethics.
Society Played Bigger Role in Past
Edelman said the Society played a far bigger role in the industry in past decades.
His father, Dan, who celebrated his 90th birthday July 1, told him the Counselors Academy was the "counselors' primary convening place." Dan Edelman saw his competitors and discussed industry issues.
Taking part in the Society was "our way of giving back," Richard said he was told by his father.
"Now, more than ever, the PR industry needs a voice on important issues," the Edelman blog said. "We must establish a bright orange line between PR (paid advocates) and journalism, since anyone can publish anything online at a time when the media industry is under siege from economic stresses."
McCormick Disappoints Some in Audience
Chair Gary McCormick, who addressed 155 at the Georgia chapter lunch yesterday, disappointed some members who said his 40-minute description of what he does at HGTV was far too long, too commercial and not too relevant to what PR people do.
Gary McCormick in Atlanta Thursday. Photo: Nancy Spraker
McCormick used videoclips to illustrate HGTV's "partnerships" with Stainmaster, Whole Foods, Cookie, Parents and Star magazines, Cost Plus World Market and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Chapter members asked for his view on dropping APR as a requirement for national office but he refused to give it. He said, "It's not my place to decide" and that the matter was up to the Assembly.
Assembly Delegates Not on Website?
Asked why there is no list of Assembly delegates on the Society's website, McCormick said such information must be obtained from each chapter, section or district and that it is "their decision … national does not determine their governance."
This non-answer was given to freelancer Nancy Spraker, who had been hired by this website to pose questions to McCormick.
National should compile a list of all the delegates who were elected as of Jan. 1 and display their contact points prominently on the national website. Anything but this is a dereliction of national’s duty as a central place for information about the 21,000 members.
Many chapters don’t list their Assemble delegates so it is impossible to create such a list by going to the chapters.
Against Audiocasting Assembly
In reply to other questions, McCormick said he was against audiocasting the 2010 Assembly; is against providing transcripts of past or future Assemblies; does not believe in offering a PDF of the membership list to members, and does not believe the Society should have a midtown auxiliary office that could serve as a library and meeting place for members.
McCormick with Tim Hussey, chapter president. Photo: Jim Brams
The downtown h.q. of the Society is only "four stops on a train" and is not inconvenient for most New York members, he said.
Asked why he has only visited six of the 110 chapters thus far and only one of the 20 biggest, he said he only goes to chapters that request a visit by him.
As for obeying or not obeying Robert's Rules, he said such rules are "only advice."
Asked where is IRS Form 990, which was initially due May 15, he said the form will be filed when it has been prepared. The 2008 990 was not filed until October 2009 and was not provided to the Assembly that met Nov. 7. A copy of the 990 was sent by PRSA to the O’Dwyer Co. and received on Nov. 6.
Asked about the financial report for the second quarter, he said he is not yet ready. The Society reported a 10% decline in revenues in the first quarter after a 14% decline in 2009.
Murray Did Not Speak
Also present at the lunch yesterday was Society COO Bill Murray, who did not speak.
Attendees at the PRSA/Georgia event July 15. Photo: Nancy Spraker
He had received a raise of $50,064 (19%) in 2008 to $312,779 and also received $30,500 in retirement pay and non-taxable expense benefits of $16,587 (total of $359,866). Neither he nor the board will divulge the terms of his new two-year contract that started in January 2010.
Some members thought that with controversy surrounding so many Society policies and practices, he should have made some mention of them and invited questions.
Members were surprised that Murray has a noticeable speech impediment that would preclude him from taking part in any TV or radio appearance. The choking or strangled quality of Murray’s speech is due to spasmodic dysphonia, physicians have told this website. This condition causes involuntary contractions in the throat that inhibit free-flowing speech.
Murray almost never appears in public and his problems with speaking apparently is the cause of this. In three and a half years, he has never addressed the New York chapter.
The PR industry needs an outgoing, readily available and even "charismatic speaker" which is what the search committee was looking for four years ago.
Murray may be a good administrator but he should not have the title of president
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