|September 8, 2010|
|Position Statements of PRSA Candidates Examined|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|Since PRSA candidates have entered a “blackout” period during which they wait silently until Sept. 16 to see whether anyone will challenge them, this website has examined the “position” statements that they gave to the nominating committee earlier this year.|
We’re hopeful that some new candidates will come forward to discuss a number of concrete issues facing the Society.
Candidates traditionally run on their experience in PR jobs, education, awards and the number and importance of their Society volunteer posts.
Issues facing the Society are listed below and have been sent to the candidates by this website and four members of the College of Fellows.
No responses have been received thus far.
Gerard Corbett, candidate for chair-elect, said in an e-mail that he was busy getting his children in new schools and would not be available for questions until after his election Oct. 16.
He is CEO of Redphlag, a "strategic management consulting firm focused on technology and technology startups," based in San Bruno, Calif., until 2007.
Currently secretary, he was VP, branding and corporate communications group, Hitachi, $112 billion electronics company, Brisbane, Calif.
Served 17 CEOs
His bio notes he has served 17 CEOs whose backgrounds have included finance, engineering, marketing and law, including one CEO described by Fortune magazine as one of the “Ten Toughest Bosses” (William Ylvisaker of Gould).
He managed budgets as high as $35 million for Hitachi. Career high spots include handling PR for the Defense Department’s “$400 Hammer debacle,” the 1987 stock market crash that involved his company (Gould) suffering the largest single day drop on the NYSE, and the largest sale of a tech company to a Japan firm.
Corbett’s many Society activities included chair of the honors and awards committee in 2003-04; chair of Silver Anvil Awards 2001-02, and
membership on honors and awards from 1996-2004. He implemented a Silver Anvil Awards feedback system to help educate entrants.
Corbett’s answer to “Position Statement Part I,” in which the question is how would candidates embrace “diversity,” includes the response that “diversity should be an integral part of every Society activity including all activities, processes and thought leadership.”
He defines diversity as “not longer just about race and gender” (the question specifically mentions “race” as being part of diversity).
“Diversity is no longer just about numbers. Diversity should move to the next level. In my view, Diversity = Inclusion. Diversity is about a lack of exclusion as a means of participation. Diversity should be inextricably linked to every Society activity yet keep faith with existing missions and goals.”
We would like to ask Corbett how his commitment to “diversity” squares with the probability that the 2011 board will again be all white, the fourth board in a row with no African-Americans on it.
For the second year in a row, the nominating committee rejected an African American candidate—Regina Lewis, a 25-year veteran PR pro who has been in the Society 18 years.
Gold Anvil winner Ofield Dukes, an African-American, was rejected last year when he sought to be at-large director.
Wants Focus on Member Benefits
Position Statement II asks candidates how the Society must evolve to give members “value” in these “tough economic times.”
Corbett acknowledged that the “recovery is slow” and said it is “critical that the board focus the Society on benefits that can help members to continue to advance their careers, find worthwhile employment, and overcome the challenges spurred by the evolution of technology and new media tools including the shrinkage of news holes in traditional media and the loss of traditional journalism jobs.”
He proposes a “career ombudsman role” at Society h.q. that would coordinate h.q. and chapter job banks; advocate for jobs with employers; expand the job center mentoring and counseling, and develop a scholarship fund to promote a “return to reach” program.
Society members can access the full presentation of Corbett on the Society website. Although the Society habitually says it speaks for the entire industry, only members are allowed to see the presentations.
Issues for Candidates
Below are issues facing the Society that candidates should be discussing with members and the press. They have been sent to Corbett by this website and four Fellows of the Society.
--What rationale allows the APR leadership to keep secret the names of the 2010 delegates? Rank-and-file members can’t get this list and delegates don’t even have to provide their names if they don’t feel like it. Delegates must sign a form to get it. This is the world’s only secret legislature.
--How can the Society claim it follows Robert’s Rules when it violates at least five of the major rules including the one that says an “assembly” sits over the board? Anathema to RR is proxy voting but the Assembly used 56 proxies to vote in the use of proxies last year.
--What is the rationale that blocks (since 2005) members from getting the transcript of the Assembly?
--Why can't the Society audiocast the important 2010 Assembly when it would be cheap and easy to do so? Leaders have been seeking greater member involvement for years.
--Where is IRS Form 990 that shows the salaries/benefits of the six highest paid staffers? The audit was released in early April so there doesn't seem to be any excuse for delaying this important financial information, originally due May 15. Last year the Assembly delegates did not get to see it because it was released so late in the year.
--How could the Society pick Philadelphia twice for the national conference (2007 and 2013) while ignoring New York where it had its biggest conference ever in 2004?
--How can leaders justify their silence to members on the subject of a PDF of the members’ directory? This would be both cheap and easy to do and would be 100% up-to-date. Revisions could be sent periodically.
--How could chair Gary McCormick declare on July 19 that direct election of board/officers is a dead issue because of “administrative, technical and legal costs?” The 2010 "Leadership Assembly" ordered him to make a report on this. Plenty of services offer to handle direct elections at low cost.
--What justification is there for keeping secret all but seven of the 55 h.q. staff's names? How can staff turnover be tracked?
--Isn’t it inconsistent for the Society to demand that Jack O'Dwyer pay the full $1,275 registration fee to cover the 2010 national conference while allowing PR News editor Scott Van Camp free admission? The Society gives no rationale for this.
--Isn’t it undemocratic for APRs to block any mention of the Committee to Promote a Democratic PRSA in Tactics Online and to block the CPDP from using the 21,000-member e-mail list?
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