The PR Society, which quickly responded all through 2011 to perceived wrongdoings by PR people or any criticism of PR itself, has been unable to come up with any rebuttal of David Carr’s charge that PR people dispense “slop.”
Jeff Julin, 2008 chair, led a massive attack on CBS-TV’s Andrew Cohen after Cohen said June 1, 2008 that PR is “based on deceit and spin” and that the PR Society having an ethics code is like burglars being against stealing.
Julin on the next day blasted Cohen for making a generalization about an entire industry whose “bread and butter” is “truth and accuracy.”
Julin orchestrated an e-mail write-in campaign by members that jammed Cohen’s computer.
The description of PR people as “pathetic dillweeds” in 2007 by the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, who also complained about a glut of PR e-mails, brought a response from advocacy chair Mary Beth West that Weingarten’s “rant” was “so far-fetched” that responding to it would be a “waste of time” and wouldn’t change his opinion.
PRS’s PR Dept. Is Silent on Carr
Gerard Corbett, 2012 chair, and Arthur Yann, VP-PR, were sent the Carr column and asked for a response.
They were also asked to comment on the new PRS policy of not providing minutes of the board meetings and asked where are the minutes for the Oct. 15, 2011 Assembly.
Neither Corbett nor Yann acknowledged receiving the requests.
Proving Carr’s point that “underlings” are press contacts at organizations are both PRS and NYT.
Here is how the PR dept. of PRS is listed:
Arthur Yann, APR
Vice President, Public Relations
Associate Director, Public Relations
Phone: (212) 460-1495
Manager, Public Relations
Phone: (212) 460-1437
Associate, Public Relations
Phone: (212) 460-0347
The head of the dept., Yann, is listed without contact points, indicating he is not to be contacted. That falls to three PR people in his dept. Payroll of the dept. in 2010 was $406,453 and total costs were $620,292.
Few in PR Have Media Backgrounds
Yann’s bio indicates he never had a job in the media. He joined Nichol & Co. in 1987 after graduation from Ohio University with a B.A. in journalism and stayed there in 2003 when it was acquired by CKPR. He was a senior VP at HealthStar PR in 2007-2008 when he joined PRS as VP-PR.
Most of those who have gone into PR in the past couple of decades never worked in the media and that proportion is likely to rise with the shrinkage of media jobs.
Yann lists on LinkedIn that he won four Silver Anvils of PRS and two Certificates of Excellence. Silver Anvils are only given to companies and firms and not to individuals.
Robert Christie is senior VP of corporate communications at the NYT Co., having joined in 2010 from Dow Jones & Co. where he was VP-communications. His background, after graduation from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, includes posts at the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, Goodman Media International, Sony Electronics and D-J, which he joined in 2003.
We were unable to reach Christie on one occasion and he was out yesterday when we called. Eileen Murphy, VP-CC, handled the call (which was about the Carr column) and said we were to deal with her rather than Christie. One object of the call was to see if Christie would talk to us and the answer appears to be “no.”
Media experience is not required to be an effective PR person but the lack of such a background among many PR people is no doubt a factor in the current gulf between media and PR.
PR Dodges Difficult Questions
This website and PRS members have 15 questions we want Corbett to answer on topics he does not want to discuss, including where is his speaking schedule?
He talks about PR being a “profession” in a posting on Gordon Young’s thedrum.com (using the word “profession” or “professional” seven times) but what kind of a “profession” is it that ducks its main audience and hides behind what Carr calls “underlings” who deliver “slop meant to obscure rather than reveal?”
Corbett is hiding behind Yann who is hiding behind Trivitt.
Christie does not want to discuss three topics we raise about NYT—why didn’t it write a single word of its own about the rape charges against three Florida Int’l University students in 2011 (including Garrett Wittels, whose 56-game hitting streak in baseball made him probably the best known college athlete); why hasn’t it covered "The Tylenol Mafia," 619-pages that, among other things, showed that the ingredients in Tylenols went through five sets of hands on the way from Johnson & Johnson to the stores, providing ample opportunity for spiking, and why doesn’t it cover PR including the draconian anti-press and anti-New York policies and practices of PRS whose boycott against the O’Dwyer Co. has been condemned in a public statement by the National Press Club?
Dodging questions is also a failing of Wikipedia, which is taking a lot of criticism currently from PR people who are find they are almost completely blocked from correcting or changing WP entries.
WP’s 10,000 volunteer “editors” in almost all instances use pseudonyms that block their identities. There’s almost no chance to meet with these editors or even have a telephone conversation with any of them.
Should a contributor learn of a WP editor’s true identity and publicize this without the permission of the editor, that contributor would be permanently ostracized not only by the editor but everyone connected with WP.