|July 26, 2010|
|PRSA Board Mulls Democracy Bid|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|One week after Richard Edelman and Bill Doescher pleaded with the PR Society of America board to allow democracy in the Society there is still no response from the board.|
About all we can get from anyone involved is that "negotiations continue."
This is like giving castor oil to a child.
The Committee for a Democratic PRSA is dealing with a system that is thoroughly rigged against democracy. It’s like getting flowers to bloom in the desert.
Assembly delegates used to be “elected” separately from officers of a chapter. They were supposed to be drawn from the rank and file.
No more. The word "elected" in reference to delegates was removed from the bylaws in 2009 and in its place is this sentence:
"The chapter president, president-elect or his or her designee shall serve as a chapter delegate."National wants as "delegates" the very people who have been its guests at the annual June weekend in New York for "leaders" (who get $550 in cash, five free meals and a good dose of brainwashing).
National is all over these appointed Assembly delegates but somehow pleads ignorance when asked for a list of them.
Control is so tight that only one chapter of the 110 (Los Angeles) is supporting the CDP. Even the New York chapter won’t support the CDP.
Unless the national board comes out with a strong statement in support of the CDP, no chapter will break ranks.
There's too much to lose in the form of all sorts of resume-building favors, such as appointment as speaker at the national conference (175 last year) and Silver Anvil judge (138 this year).
A flaw in the CDB's goal is failure to spell out exactly what it wants besides removing the APR requirement.
The board could easily substitute some new and onerous rule such as requiring "more than 20 years of experience with increasing levels of responsibility."
The 72%-APR Assembly rejected even this last year by a vote of 142-111.
We think this is the “negotiating” that is going on. The board may cave on APR but put in some new demand that will drive candidates away.
Measurers Forget 'Public' in PR
The measurers of PR who spent ten days on this subject in Barcelona, Spain in June have framed "PR" as a marketing discipline aimed at reaching "clear goals" and are forgetting the debt to the public that the term "PR" promises.
Having framed PR as marketing, the meeting of the Institute for PR, PRSA, Chartered Institute of PR (U.K.) and other groups then proceeded to denounce any measurement of media placements in terms of what such placements would have cost in ad dollars.
They want to have their cake and eat it, too.
"Overall clip counts and general impressions are usually meaningless," says one sentence.
"Measurement Queen" Katie Paine is calling for a boycott of any service that uses ad equivalencies and demanding award entries be bounced if they dare to mention such a measurement.
The services that do this are huge -- Vocus, a public company with $80 million in sales, Cision, which may even be bigger, and BurrellesLuce, a private company but probably as big as the other two.
They know something about PR.
Editorial mentions are far more influential than any ads because they are read with full attention while an ad may only catch the corner of the eye of the reader.
Ads and publicity do leave impressions and may make someone slightly more likely to buy the product or service involved. There’s no reason not to measure such impressions.
PR is Debate, Discussion, Dialogue
But PR has a duty besides marketing and publicity.
Measurement of real PR would involve whether public understanding of a product or issue is increased. How many press conferences were held? Has the CEO been available for interview? What are the arguments pro and con on some issue?
PR Tactics of the PR Society devoted a full page to this line of reasoning in its "Ethics" issue of September 2008 (link, sub req'd).
Professor Tim Penning of Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich., defined PR as "debate, dialogue and discussion" and "collaboration, negotiation and mediation -- not sending one-way messages to target audiences."
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