Steve Lubetkin, the most vocal supporter of APR as a requirement for PRSA board service, yesterday mentioned “dog food” in connection with the APR exam.
“How many times have you heard the expression ‘eat our own dog food?’” he asked in a Society e-group where a debate is raging over removal of the APR requirement for board service.
We think Lubetkin has made a Freudian slip here (a verbal mistake that reveals a repressed belief). He’s unconsciously indicating that the APR exam is “dog food” for the mind.
That’s certainly our opinion after studying the 150-page APR Study Guide (PDF) that tells applicants to study the Guide and/or 21 chapters of college PR textbooks.
Besides being at a very elementary level and focusing on the process and methodology of PR, the Guide slights both ethics and press relations.
Applicants are told that, “As a professional, commitment to your employer often comes before other obligations.” We thought the commitment of PR pros was to the public and truth.
Applicants are also told they have to “be ready to publicly identify your clients.”
A similar article in the PR Society Code broke its back in 1999. Members only had to “be prepared” to identify sources of communications but not actually provide them.
A case came up where a prominent member was accused of using front groups. The member refused to identify his clients. That was the end of enforcement by the Code and a new toothless Code was created. Previous efforts to close this loophole had failed.
Only three of the 150 pages of the Guide are on “Media Relations” and they are at a very basic level (i.e., “The news release is a mainstay of media relations”). The Guide notes that only 5% of questions on the test will be on media relations, a ridiculously low percentage.
APR Supporters Make Personal Attacks
The principal theme of the pro-APR faction is that those who won’t take the test are lazy, lacking in motivation and disloyal to the Society.
In the words of Lubetkin yesterday, they refuse to “demonstrate tangible support for a professional credential that our organization continues to claim is a mark of personal professional achievement.”
Sam Waltz says “Why that prospective leadership candidate would not agree to participate in the APR Community Standard is beyond me.”
Universal Accreditation Board chair Anne Dubois, who is also an Assembly delegate, said, “If a professional is truly dedicated to PR—just follow the rules, take the test, and help lead the Society. It’s that simple.”
These are ad hominem arguments that impugn the motives of those who won’t take the exam. Such arguments would not be allowed in a formal debate.
Never discussed is the nature of the computer exam itself, which involves no writing and no test of creativity, or the Readiness Review process, which involves local chapter members judging each other.
Lubetkin: Buy Client Products
Explained Lubetkin: “If we expect this of ourselves in our relationships with clients, why do we continually flee from this philosophy when it comes to challenging people to do something to show their commitment to PRSA?”
He had noted that PR people are asked to buy client products as a “sign of commitment” and, “If you are the PR director of the First National Bank of Jabip, are you really going to have your personal bank accounts somewhere else?”
Lubetkin, national board member from 2003-05 and member of the Universal Accreditation Board from 1997-2003, said the Society needs to send a message to younger members that APR is the way to “demonstrate they are smart, competent professionals.”
He has made more than ten posts in the e-group and is the last person to post on PRSAY, the Society’s moderated bulletin board.
That post, which appeared May 14, said that just because a small number of members have become APR does not mean that the rest of the members should avoid the test.
Code of Ethics Gutted
“We’ve already gutted the enforcement of the Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, and the news media snickers audibly whenever we try to comment authoritatively on the ethical foibles of our industry,” he wrote.
Lubetkin may have been referring to the dust-up that occurred in 2007 when CBS-TV legal analyst Andrew Cohen said the PR Society having an ethics code is like “The Burglars Assn. of America having as its creed, Thou Shall Not Steal.”
Julin said “Truth and accuracy are the bread and butter of the PR profession.” Cohen commented: “Show me a PR person who is accurate and truthful and I’ll show you a PR person who is unemployed.”
Julin urged Society members to send e-mails to Cohen denouncing him. The flood of e-mails jammed Cohen’s e-mailbox.
Nine Weeks Later Board Supports APR Change
Minutes of the board meeting July 16-17 were posted on the Society website this week, which is about nine weeks after the meeting.
The minutes note that Richard Edelman and Bill Doescher of the New York chapter were present in person to plead for board support of removal
of the APR requirement for board service and that Art Stevens appeared via telephone.
The board, not mentioning the Committee for a Democratic PRSA, said in the minutes that it would support the proposal that it made last year—APR would not be mandatory if one of two other conditions were met—service in Society leadership and 20 or more years in PR posts with “increasing levels of responsibility.”
The Committee for a Democratic PRSA adopted this as its position after abandoning an early proposal to let any member in good standing run for the board.
The board said it would support the Committee’s “efforts to reach out to members.”
However, the board would not let the Committee use the e-mail list of the 21,000 members and the Committee’s aims were never reported in Tactics Online.
A brief discussion took place on PRSAY but that ended on May 14 with Lubetkin making the last posting. The discussion shifted to a e-group available only to Assembly delegates where more than 100 postings have been made.