|August 16, 2010|
|PRSA Candidates: Act Now or Never|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|PR Society of America candidates have a one-month window (till Sept. 16) to curb flagrant anti-democratic, anti-member and pure boneheaded practices at the Society.|
That is the date when their candidacies are "locked in" to be formalized at the Assembly Oct. 16. They could still quit up to and including Oct. 16.
As for pure boneheadedness, nothing tops the choice of Philadelphia as the scene of the national conference twice (2007 and 2013) while neglecting the center of communications, New York (link, sub req'd).
The Society had its biggest (4,000 attendees) and least unprofitable conference there in 2004. But who cares about that?
We say "least unprofitable" because PRS lavishes some $2 million in staff time on this ill-attended extravaganza but only reports a fraction of that on its audit.
Ten Candidates Must Speak Now
This is an open letter to the ten nominees who were announced Aug. 3.
They should demand immediate reforms now while they have leverage. Once they’re on the board and hold their first meeting in late January 2011 (three and a half months after their election!) they will be forced to sign three separate agreements of silence.
The minutes of the Jan. 25, 2008 board meeting had this sentence: “Mr. Julin asked board members to sign and return disclosure, confidentiality and conflict of interest statements to Ms. Jonas” (staffer Donna Jonas).
They can never make a public statement about or on behalf of PRSA no matter what the Society does — not even to their own chapters unless it’s in secret session. (link, sub req'd)
They completely give up their individuality and henceforth are part of an indivisible unit.
We hope they notice how odd they are to seek board membership in the first place.
Since there are about 4,000 APRs and ten districts, there are 400 eligible APRs per district. Most of the time only one APR will show up for national office and sometimes no one will show up.
Why? The smell of dysfunction is overpowering. One has to have dead nostrils (or a compelling need to pad a resume) to take part in this.
Should the candidates stonewall on all these issues, we hope reform-minded members will step forward.
PRS ineptitude has reached such proportions that businesspeople are wondering whether PR people are the brightest bulbs on Broadway.
Reforms Needed Now
The candidates should tell the current PRSA board/staff that they’ll pull their names unless:
1. An African-American is on the 2011 board as a voting member. The last black member on the board was in 2007 (Cheryl Procter-Rogers as past chair).
2. List of Assembly delegates with their e-mails is on the first page of the PRSA website (also reachable by one e-mail). The Assembly is the only legislative body in the world whose membership is secret.
3. IRS Form 990 is filed and posted on page one of PRSA website. It was due May 15. Last year PRS withheld this till Sept. 15 and Assembly never got to see it. COO Bill Murray got $50K raise to $312K (link, sub req'd).
4. Tactics Online at last covers the Committee to Promote Democracy in PRSA, which has garnered 350 signatures on its petition including ten Fellows and ten PR professors.
5. Give that Committee access to the 21,000 e-mail list of members. It’s not the exclusive preserve of the staff for pitching seminars/webinars.
6. The 2010 Assembly is audiocast which would be both cheap and easy. Mike Cherenson, 2009 chair, said “all members” were invited to the Assembly and leaders harp on the need for “member involvement.”
7. A recording is made of the Assembly and transcript prepared for members and press. Cost: about $1,000.
8. Publish in PDF form transcripts of the Assemblies starting in 2005.
9. Add PR pros to h.q. staff until the culture shifts from that of the legal, association and marketing occupations to that of PR (negotiation and conciliation).
10. Put the ten candidates’ bios and Position Statements in the free part of prsa.org. The candidates all say they speak for the entire “profession” and should be answerable to all PR pros.
11. Publish all the vote totals of the 2009 Assembly (as is called for in the meeting “minutes” by Robert’s Rules and publish each vote total at the 2011 Assembly within minutes after each vote is taken. Assembly should specify that all votes are roll call (as they are at every city, state and federal legislative body) so that constituents can see how their elected representatives voted.
12. The president’s title is removed from Bill Murray who is too reclusive to bear it. He has never appeared before the New York chapter or other groups when he should be pitching the Society’s “Business Case for PR” throughout the U.S. VP-PR Arthur Yann should similarly be a visible spokesperson for the “Business Case for PR.”
13. Chair-elect Rosanna Fiske should withdraw unless she has the time to visit all of the five biggest chapters and ten of the top 20.
Chair Gary McCormick, like recent chairs, is only visiting seven chapters this year and only two of the top 20 (Georgia and Hoosier). No elected head has addressed the New York chapter in more than 20 years.
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