Below is an open e-mail to Rachel Sherman, marketing manager of MyMediaInfo, who had arranged an interview with this reporter at the PRSA Conference last weekend for a new service of the company but was pressured out of doing so by Society staff.
I was very disappointed Sunday when I was not able to interview you. This was a journalistic atrocity of the first order--blocking a newsperson in pursuit of a story.
The Society had the legal but not the moral right to block me from any sessions and the exhibit hall. It did not have the right to interfere with my coverage of Mymediainfo.
Since a guard was posted at the entrance who would not let me in, I asked a friend to ask you to come out. I explained I was banned from the exhibit hall and asked you to take a picture of your booth and the people in it with my Android camera.
You agreed but returned in a couple of minutes and said you were not allowed to take a picture with my camera. You wouldn't even take a picture with your own camera.
I don’t know who convinced you not to work with me. I said I was shocked that after paying thousands of dollars to exhibit that the PR Society could block you from getting coverage. You did not want to talk to me further but asked that I call co-founder and president Eric Hill.
Hill told me today he e-mailed me with an offer for lunch. For some reason I didn’t see it. I talked at length to Hill today and will do a blog tomorrow on the new service of the company.
Many Exhibitors are O’Dwyer Advertisers
Twenty-two of the 47 exhibitors in the hall advertise in O’Dwyer media. I was blocked from going from booth to booth looking not only for stories but for advertising. We run plenty of stories about companies that never advertise. If there is a story, we will report it. You had ardently pitched us a story. I had a lot of questions and wanted a picture of the booth to illustrate the story.
PRS’s blocking me from entering the exhibit hall is a desecration of all that journalism and PR stand for--interference with a reporter in his or her duties. It violates the PRS Code that promises to "Advance the free flow of information." Ethics is said to be the "most important obligation of a Society member."
I should have been able to visit all 47 exhibitors and ask for news for our annual PR Buyer's Guide that lists 1,000 products and services in 60 categories The Guide, now in its 21st year, will have 100+ pages and more than 100+ advertisers. Subscribers use it all year. It brings business to advertisers and those mentioned editorially.
The 22 exhibitors included Burrelles/Luce, Business Wire, Cision, Critical Mention, NAPS, News USA, PR Newswire, TVEyes and Vocus about whom we have written tens of thousands of stories without a complaint.
Also, here is a four-pager on the copying scandal. The Society’s sale of more than 50,000 copies of O’Dwyer articles cost the company hundreds of thousands in lost income since PRS members did not have to pay $200 and more to subscribe to the O'Dwyer NL and magazine nor purchase the $175 O'Dwyer's Dir. of PR Firms where the "How to Hire a PR Firm" article resided. They could pay $21 and get many of our best articles.
Instead, PRS made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling our articles and those of dozens of authors. There is no statute of limitation on this. That's the ethics of it. The German PR Council is of this view, saying wrongdoing can always be corrected.