But merely adding two new PR people is not going to cure anything. It is like re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.
What should be done is to make the current PR staff (Arthur Yann, Keith Trivitt, Diane Gomez) do their jobs, namely face the facts and face the press.
Even better would be the Society hiring a PR firm for the first time in its history. A PR firm could not stiff the press.
Symptomatic of the staff’s inability to handle information is its failure to post the minutes of the 2011 Assembly.
Yann and his boss Bill Murray should apologize for blocking O’Dwyer press coverage of the 2011 Assembly and conference and should open the floodgates of information to members by publishing transcripts of the 2011 Assembly and previous Assemblies; publishing the list of 2012 delegates; publishing names and titles of all staffers, and restoring the single list of the 110 chapter presidents so they and members can easily reach the presidents.
Hiring New People Is Not the Answer
PRS staff, based on past practice, are likely to hire those who are not members and who can easily be pushed around. Examples are Janet Troy, who told the Bergen Record she was “clueless” about PRS when she joined in 2004, and Joe DeRupo (2007) who also was not a member.
Given the blatant anti-press, anti-New York and anti-information policies of PRS h.q., what PR person of any weight would join this organization?
Two PR staffers, Steve Erickson and Richard George, quit in 1996 and 1999, respectively, just before the national conferences when they were most needed. They were fed up with PRS leadership and staff. Libby Roberge lasted from 2001-2003, not returning after having a baby. Others quitting were Cedric Bess, now with the New York Yankees, and Troy, whose resume on LinkedIn lists PRS as her last job.
Talk to Past Staffers, Search Web
Candidates for the two advertised posts should talk to the past occupants named above and also search odwyerpr.com where there are 2,930 stories, blogs and news items about PRS. Most of the mentions are in the free part of the site but free sample user/pass codes will be given to anyone wishing to research the Society.
A custom Google function recently added to odwyerpr.com allows any topic mentioned in the O’Dwyer NL or website since Jan. 1, 2000 to be found in less than a half second.
Information is now king, not PR nor even journalism. Anyone can search through records and come up with theories and explanations of why things are so.
The PR Society’s gambit of the last 20 years, which is to duck the press, members and facts, is a strategy that no longer works.
It’s easy, with the help of bitlys and tinyurls, which compress long URLs to 6-7 characters, to fully document a position. PR people have yet to learn how to cope with the tsunami of facts and analyses that regularly engulf them.
More Gumption Needed by PRS Board
PR society directors Lofgren, Pecsi, Dvorak and McClennan.
The new board of PRS is showing some guts but it needs more.
Some major leaguers have joined the board—Diane Lofgren, senior VP of the $47 billion Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; Elizabeth Pecsi, head of executive communications at $3.85B Unisys; Mark McClennan, SVP at Schwartz MSL, a unit of Publicis, and counselor Jane Dvorak, 2003 president of the 500+ member Colorado chapter and 2006 Western district chair.
Kaiser, Unisys, Publicis an Dvorak don’t want their names dragged through the PRS mud. All four came in as at-large directors beholden to no section of the country.
Lofgren, Pecsi and Dvorak are from the West and McClennan (one of the most outspoken of Assembly delegates) is from the Northeast. They have apparently wrested control from the Southern bloc that has dominated PRS for so many years.
That bull-headed, wrong-headed group shifted New York h.q. all the way downtown in 2004 with no input from the Assembly; it cancelled the printed members’ directory in 2005, again with no Assembly input and refuses to discuss a PDF alternative; it voted in 2005 to let the executive committee act in place of the full board, castrating the board, and it boosted Cheryl Procter-Rogers from a director to chair-elect in 2005 without the seasoning of being secretary and then treasurer. Anthony D’Angelo should have been chair-elect.
The new board must realize that hiring PR people will not solve anything and will only waste many months. No one of any merit will show up. PR people know they will be ugly ducklings in a flock of assn. types. The four new directors and other allies on the board must start barking orders now.
Significant is that the 2012 board is the first in PRS’ history to have a female majority (8-7). Aren’t women the fairer and gentler sex? Prove it!
Coincidentally and highlighting this issue is that the United Nations on April 13 approved the “UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists” that says journalists covering local news as well as those in combat zones should be free of any type of harassment or intimidation.
A 2011 UNESCO report on the “Safety of Journalists and the Need for Impunity” said most of the complaints received did not involve reporting on armed conflicts but reporting on local crime, corruption and illegal activities.
The report on April 13 was endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board, the “highest level coordination mechanism” of the UN.
PRS’ behavior toward the O’Dwyer Co., including barring staffers from the 2011 Assembly and conference, is exactly what UNESCO is talking about.
Behavior at the 2010 conference included an Assembly delegate threatening bodily harm to this reporter and a “flash mob” of 20 delegates rudely interrupting an interview with delegate Art Stevens by thrusting pens into our hand meant to signify were mentally deranged.
An entire day of Assembly notes was stolen from our conference bag in 2003. PRS leaders/staff then refused to supply the audiotape. Still on the table is the massive theft of O’Dwyer and other authors’ materials by PRS from 1980-94 for its information packet service. Another form of theft was Society staffers accessing odwyerpr.com hundreds of times a month in 2005 on a single $295 subscription. Asked to take a site license for $3,000, PR offered to buy one more subscription. A national director in 2007 was caught accessing the site more than 1,000 times in a single month.
Yann has been active on several independent blogs saying, among other things, that this writer tells “flat out lies” without giving any specifics.