|August 27, 2012|
|PR, Governance Abuses of PR Society Catalogued|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|A duty of editors is gathering facts, sorting them in order of importance, and trying to make sense of them.|
This website has documented scores of instances of the PR Society blocking information flow and engaging in undemocratic governance practices. Links to the documents are below in approximate order of importance.
Those who lend their names to the Society including H+K CEO Jack Martin and Ketchum CEO Rob Flaherty, who are co-chairs of the 2012 conference in San Francisco, and chair-elect candidate Joe Cohen of MWW Group, are “buying into” all these abuses. They could be “off the hook” if they didn’t know about them but they do.
Communication and reporting can demolish the “ignorance is bliss” defense of PRS volunteers. This website has sent hundreds of e-mails to chapter presidents documenting abusive PRS practices. They can’t plead ignorance.
Pretending not to know something is a poor defense in this Age of Information when people can find out almost everything about anything with a few clicks of a computer mouse.
Assembly Is Castrated
No. 1 abuse of PRS leaders/staff is the emasculation of the Assembly, the legislative body of the Society that meets one day a year.
Here is VP-PR Arthur Yann saying on newsroomink.com last October that PRS can block press coverage of the Assembly: “PRS is a private member organization and our national Leadership Assembly is a private meeting of our members. We’re well within our rights to bar any and all reporters from attending.”
Why wouldn’t such a decision be run by the Assembly itself? Can you imagine the Assembly voting to bar reporters?
Barbara Hunter, 1984 PRS president, booted from that year’s Assembly a reporter for the Denver Post, saying that the meeting was only for trade reporters. The reporter left the room but the next day the paper had an editorial denouncing the Society.
PR director Donna Peltier, apologizing, announced that a new bylaw had been passed so that no reporter, trade or otherwise, would ever be forbidden to attend an Assembly in the future.
What happened to that PRS? The Assembly in 1985 lost a battle to switch h.q. from New York (or at least most of the office staff) and caved when leadership permanently cancelled the Spring Assembly in 1986. That meeting was replaced by the “Leadership Rally” in 1999 that hosts nearly 140 chapter, section and district leaders each June at a cost of $140,000.
The Indians sold Manhattan for $25 of jewelry and PRS delegates have sold themselves to leadership/staff for a weekend in New York.
The mostly APR Assembly delegates were docile as leaders/staff in 2004 moved h.q. downtown and out of reach of New York members. They were submissive in 2005 when leaders/staff not only cancelled the beloved Blue Book of Members but cancelled the Assembly transcripts that had been available for decades. None of these decisions was run by the Assembly.
Press Club Ignored, Bluebook Canceled
Our compilation of the abuses of PRS puts its defiance of the National Press Club at the top. NPC last October examined 23 pages of PRS charges against this reporter, discussed them with Yann, and nevertheless urged PRS to drop the O’Dwyer boycott, sending a statement to 390 major media. New York State Senator Liz Krueger issued a statement saying she “heartily agreed with” the NPC statement.
A close second is the removal from members of the massive amount of information that was in the Bluebook.
Besides listing members by name, employer and location, it had contact points for the presidents of the 110 chapters and the chapter administrators; contacts of the district and section chairs; contacts for 30 chairs and co-chairs of 21 task forces, boards and committees; contacts of the 50 or so h.q. staff members; seven pages of contacts of College of Fellows members; list of past presidents/chairs; the PRS definition of PR (a page); Code of Ethics; the complete bylaws; 2.5 pages of new APR members; two pages of the 240 PR Student Society chapters with 8,000 members), and 22 pages of Counselor Academy listings.
Directory Was Unifying Force
The Directory brought the Society together under one roof. It should be a PDF for anyone who wants it while printed Tactics and Strategist should be PDF only (saving at least $100,000).
A PR professor argued at length for a printed directory in a posting on odwyerpr.com July 31, 2008.
He was angered that he was not consulted about the decision although PRS “repeatedly” surveys members on their attitudes.
Wrote the professor: “Eliminating the print directory limits member networking and ability to communicate with one another in our own association—an association of professionals in the relationship and communication business!
Without the Blue Book, members are out of sight and out of mind. I interact less with others in the Society. I’m much less likely to search the online databases, unlikely to make all of the printouts I would need…it doesn’t make sense to eliminate something so important to member communication and networking.”
Particularly hurt he said, are students. “I referred to it all the time in locating experts to speak to classes or in advising students about leaders in various cities where they were headed. I still find myself using the last copy (2005) which is outrageous. The online directory will suffice only in some instances…the autocratic system that made this decision is out of place in an association of PR professionals…let the members decide.”
Yann then posted on this website Sept. 24, 2008 697 words saying the printed version was “out of date by the time it was printed” [yes, about one percent of the entries] and that the online directory was “more current, cost-effective and environmentally friendly” (saving 75,000 pounds of paper each year).
A member answered that PR people cope with a maze of online databanks all day long and shouldn’t have to do this with their own organization. A PDF of the Blue Book would be accurate (up-dates could be e-mailed) and would eliminate printing, paper and postage costs, demolishing Yann’s major arguments.
PRS claims its members have a right to privacy. What about reporters? All their contacts are public record and PR people make heavy use of them. PRS has refused to discuss the possibility of a PDF for the Blue Book. That’s typical PRS behavior. It hides when it has no answer.
The relevant question is why wasn’t this decision run by the Assembly?
Key Blogs and Reports on PRS
NPC chides PRS, asks removal of O’Dwyer boycott. http://bit.ly/p0jJuj.
PR professors plead for PDF of members’ directory. http://tinyurl.com/bm5sdh6.
PRS sold hundreds of thousands of copies of authors’ articles without their permission from 1980-94. http://bit.ly/zdcrgc.
Bylaws re-write by 2009 Assembly was a costly travesty because 56 proxy votes were used and only a few of the articles were presented for vote. http://odwpr.us/zZTnAb.
2010 chair Gary McCormick and COO Bill Murray spend one hour in Jack O’Dwyer’s office March 19, 2010 telling him PRS has “chosen” not to deal with him. http://bit.ly/d56)Ve.
Four PRS Fellows put 15 questions to PRS leaders in 2010 (such as where is the list of Assembly delegates) and get snubbed, proving PRS answers questions from no one. http://bit.ly/9N25um.
PRS VP-PR posts on newsroomink.com that PRS is “a private organization” and can bar “any and all reporters from attending.” Entry is one of 40 in a 10,637-word discussion. http://tinyurl.com/7qz8wul.
PRS blocks Committee for a Democratic PRS from using member e-mail list. Sandra Fathi, president of PRS/NY, is told this on a teleconference. http://tinyurl.com/8g6dy8l.
PRS shuts discussion of 23 pages of charges against O’Dwyer after four days and one O’Dwyer rebuttal. http://bit.ly/wKsMCw.
PRS blocks MyMediaInfo from O’Dwyer coverage at 2011 conference. http://tinyurl.com/7kgwj8r.
PRS delegate threatens to beat O’Dwyer “to a pulp.” http://bit.ly/f452MH.
Assembly delegate steals whole day of O’Dwyer notes in 2003 as O’Dwyer talks with Gerry Corbett; PRS turns deaf ear to pleas for tape of Assembly. http://tinyurl.com/95yyevc.
PRS ignores Condorcet and other free secure e-mail election capabilities that would let members elect officers based on stands on various issues such as APR. http://www.cs.cornell.edu/andru/civs.html.
Seventeen of 20 nominating committee members are APR when only four should be because only 18% of members are APR) http://tinyurl.com/7wtjspz.
PRS short-changes New York members in numerous ways. PRS leadership is dominated by PR people from South and West. http://tinyurl.com/6oof72g.
UNESCO says murders of journalists and interference with their duties is worldwide scandal and especially the “impunity” granted to offenders by governments and professional associations; 51-page study published. http://tinyurl.com/7bvzbk4.
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