PR Society of America staff leaders, looking for a way to cut the budget in 2009, focused on VP-membership marketing Jennifer Ian and sent her packing in June.
Lacking a job, she set up her own firm in December of that year. It was not until June 2010 that she landed a job at the American Thoracic Society a short distance away (25 Broadway) as director, member services and chapter relations.
Out the door with Ian went six years and 11 months of experience at the Society.
The ones who should have walked were the top three male executives—president/COO Bill Murray, CFO Phil Bonaventura, and VP-PR Arthur Yann. That would have saved about three-quarters of a million in pay/fringes.
The fourth highest paid staffer is VP-development John Robinson at $140K, but we have no quarrel with his job performance.
Apparent racial discrimination is another problem of PRSA.
Only two African-Americans have served on the board in 64 years—Debra Miller and Cheryl Procter-Rogers.
Two prominent African-Americans tried to break the color barrier in 2009 and 2010 but were beaten back by the all-APR nominating committee. They were Gold Anvil winner Ofield Dukes in 2009 and Regina Lewis, head of PR for the mega-church The Potter’s House of Dallas, in 2010.
The 2009 IRS Form 990 listed Ian as one of the three top executives along with president/COO Bill Murray and CFO Phil Bonaventura.
Members: Check Performances of Top Three
Members who are faced with a $30 dues increase on top of the $225 already charged must focus on the performances of Murray, Bonaventura and Yann.
I find fault with those performances. They are not worth three quarters of a million dollars annually.
Murray has been a very passive “president,” waiting for invites to chapters according to his own testimony.
He has only spoken to two chapter memberships as far as the public record shows—Minnesota (twice) and National Capital (once).
Under his stewardship, information-blocking practices have spread like weeds. It’s not entirely his doing but I don’t see him fighting this trend either.
All but seven of the 50+ staff names were removed from the PRS website last year. The single list of 110 chapter presidents was removed.
Murray, Bonaventura, Yann
Members have been threatened with legal action if they forward an e-group posting or make more than one copy of it.
Members since 2005 have not had access to the national list of Assembly delegates nor access to a transcript of what they say. The last time a roll call was demanded was in 2004.
Non-members including reporters don’t have access to the audit of PRS or its quarterly reports. The last two Assemblies did not get to see IRS Form 990 that shows the salaries of the top eight highest-paid staffers.
Murray has a policy of not speaking to me or replying to any of my questions.
He visited my office March 19, 2010, and said the Society simply “chooses not to deal with you,” a classic blackball that is against the PRS Code.
Compliant CFO Is Needed
Working closely with Murray is his appointee as CFO—Bonaventura.
A compliant CFO, who will go along with accounting policies including booking dues as cash rather than deferring the income, is needed by h.q. management.
John Colletti performed that role for COO Catherine Bolton from 2001-06 and Joe Cussick did the same when Ray Gaulke was COO during the 1990s.
Counting dues as cash and bloating “net assets” by $2 million and more is against one of the bedrock principles of accounting, money is booked as earned.
This rule is spelled out in detail in Section 958-605-2-1 of FASB. The major professional groups such as the AMA, ABA, AICPA as well as IABC obey this rule.
Bonaventura has allowed leaders and members to talk endlessly of “reserves” of the Society when it has no such thing.
A major goal of the Society for years has been to “contribute 1% of budgeted expenses to reserves.”
A delegate posting in a PRS e-group on the dues issue used the term nine times.
Also a negative is that PRS publishes the audit, which prompts many questions, but refuses to discuss a line of it.
Late financial reporting is also a habit of the Society including keeping financial reports and the 990 from the Assembly which happened in 2007. (link, sub req'd)
Far more financial details were revealed to the members in the 1980s.
Bonaventura, when hired by PRS, was a lapsed CPA. He had not kept up the required maintenance and was not allowed to put “CPA” after his name. The initial release on him improperly gave him those initials (link, sub req'd).
He even faced possibly discipline for such usage, apparently a PRS staff mistake, although there was no such action.
Yann’s Policy Trashes Code
The press policy pursued by Yann vs. me personally and the O’Dwyer Co. flies in the face of the Code that promises “fair dealing” with reporters.
The policy flunks the tests of reason and consistency.
I was “credentialed” for the Assembly last year but suddenly not “credentialed” for the annual conference and an attempt was made to charge me $1,275 for access while other PR reporters went free.
Yann and PRS leaders may disagree with my opinions but the Code says, “We respect all opinions and the right of free expression.”
Yann in posting on this website (although PRS refuses to post anything I send it) denied there is a “blackball” against the O’Dwyer Co. since PRS sends us press releases.
There is a blackball because Murray personally delivered it to me and PRS refuses to answer any of my questions including what are the speaking schedules of Murray and chair Rosanna Fiske; where is Form 990 that was due May 15; will you credential me for the Assembly and conference this year so I can arrange for hearing aids, and does Murray have a new contract?
Members have tried to fight for more rights but have so far been defeated. They must not give up because too much is at stake this year.
Fifty senior members led by Blake Lewis, Southwest district chair, demanded “openness, total transparency” in a memo in 2007 to the board and Assembly (link, sub req'd).
The board responded by saying that any attempt by delegates to tell the board what to do would be ruled “out of order.”
PRS treasurer Tony D’Angelo told the 2007 delegates that they would not get the third quarterly report until they were in their seats. The board, meanwhile, got them several days earlier, D’Angelo said.
Another “revolt,” timid as it was, was hoisted last year by the Committee for a Democratic PRS that pleaded for the right of non-APRs to run for the board for the first time since the 1970s.
That was slapped down in a few minutes by the three-quarters APR 2010 Assembly which refused a delegate request for a roll-call vote.
Delegates noted the APRs who run PRS are in violation of the Universal Accreditation Board “Guidelines” that forbid any competitive use of APR.