|September 17, 2010|
|Stevens Contradicts Self; Legal Threats Have Flaws|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|Art Stevens, the leading proponent of letting non-APRs on the PRSA board, now says that APR is not “the hallmark of professional accomplishments,” that it could stand “vast improvement,” and that the exam should be taken by “relative beginners.”|
Stevens said today that “Conceptually and ideally, APR should be a hallmark of professional accomplishments.”
Previously he has been arguing that APR “is a hallmark of professional accomplishment.” There’s a big difference between “is” and “should be.”
This website has shown that the APR test is at the college level, since study of 21 chapters of college PR texts is recommended as the way to pass the test.
Stevens and Steve Lubetkin, who has been arguing in favor of keeping the APR rule, have declined an invitation by this website to debate the APR issue in-person in our offices or elsewhere.
Stevens has a New York office and Lubetkin’s firm is in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Nearly 100 postings on the APR issue are in a Society e-group, far more than the number that the bylaws re-write drew last year.
The re-write debate was never conducted before a “live,” “in-person” audience and the same holds true for the APR debate.
Debate is limited to teleconferences and e-mail groups.
Lawyers Challenge Legal Threats
The Society has sent four pages of dense, threatening legal language to members of e-groups warning them not to “reproduce, sell, publish, broadcast, modify, create derivative works from, perform, or in any way commercially exploit any of the content…”
E-group members are told they must agree only to print out a “single copy” of e-group messages for “personal, non-commercial use only.” “Written consent” is demanded for any e-group member who wants to transmit, broadcast, etc., postings to others.
Lawyers said the press has a right to describe this agreement because of its news value and that reporters are not party to any agreement with the Society. As for enforcing it with members, lawyers said the Society would have to show how transmission of e-group postings damaged the Society or anyone.
Further, the lawyers said, the Society holds itself out to be a communications organization that espouses in its Code of Ethics “the free flow of accurate and truthful information,” that it “supports the right of free expression,” and the Code says its members should contribute to “informed decision making in a democratic society.”
In another new document called “Media Policy,” members are ordered not to respond to any press calls about the Society unless such calls are first cleared with VP-PR Arthur Yann or one of his staffers.
These legal threats and orders have no place in a Society that is supposed to be encouraging free speech.
Rank-and-file members have every right to know what is being said about the APR proposal in Society e-groups. The debate should be in the main, free area of the website since Society leaders habitually say they represent the entire industry and not just members.
One problem is that Society members are apt to accept these legal threats without consulting a lawyer since that could run up a legal bill.
Text of Agreement
Here is the text of the legal agreement that e-group members are being told they must sign if they wish to remain in such groups.
MyPRSA e-Groups are offered as forums for the exchange of information and for discussion among the participants. Through MyPRSA e-Groups, participants gain access to the expertise, opinions, and/or experience of other public relations professionals and communicators, with quick exchanges of information and contacts as well as more in-depth discussions of topics.
Please enjoy the many topics that are discussed on MyPRSA’s e-Groups forums, which is owned and operated by the Public Relations Society of America (“PRSA”), a not-for-profit company.
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