Shawn Paul Wood, writing on talentzoo.com, has blogged that PR Society of America failed to follow its own “best practices” in barring O’Dwyer reporters from its national conference Oct. 15-18 in Orlando.
Wood said the Society ignored “one of the perfunctory tenets of crisis communications—giving all reporters access to the same story.”
Wood, who is with HCK2 Partners in Dallas, asked Society leaders: “Would any of you counsel your clients to do the same thing at one of their press conferences? Of course not.”
Some people, he added, thought the Society just “bullied” O’Dwyer, “took their ball, and told Jack to go home.”
“This kerfuffle has come to a frothy head,” he feels, asking: “What’s next? A wedgie for the curmudgeon? Sticking your tongue out? Making fun of his mother?”
Wood said he is aware of the O’Dwyer “angst” towards the Society but “the point remains: being the expert in PR means doing expert things.” He says the Society and O’Dwyer should “break bread at Thanksgiving dinner” but is not too hopeful that will happen.”
'Embarrassment,' 'Freedom of Press' Cited
Perry Bishop, PR professor, University of Maryland, has said that the Society’s “It’s us vs. Jack O’Dwyer [policy] seems to violate its own Code of Ethics and certainly sets no professional example for current or future members…(it) brings embarrassment to the entire profession regardless of membership in any professional association. The sad part is that over the years, the PRSA staff (and board) don’t appear to want to accept any personal or professional responsibility for its actions.”
Ruth Thaler-Carter, writer/editor and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, asked the PR Society to give O’Dwyer reporters access to the 2011 conference, saying it was an “issue of freedom of the press” and not a case of one association interfering with the management of another association.
“Associations owe their members honest reporting on their doings,” she said in an e-mail to SPJ president John Ensslin, reporter with the Bergen Record; ethics chair Kevin Smith, James Madison University; Joe Skeel, executive director;, and immediate past president Hagit Limor, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati.