|August 31, 2012|
|PR Society Posts First Half Report Day Before Assembly Call|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|The PR Society posted the financial report for its first six months on Tuesday, Aug. 29, the day before the first Assembly delegate call.|
It showed an operating lost of $29,793 on expenses of $5,273,743 and a gain in dues income of 7.1% although a 13% dues hike had gone into effect. Indication is that members are not renewing at the former rate.
Lacking advance notice of the financial report, which would have been an excellent topic, the delegate calls yesterday set new records for brevity -- 24 minutes in the morning and 22 minutes in the afternoon.
It was a dirty and unforgivable trick to withhold this information from the delegates and even worse was that chair Gerry Corbett said the delegates will not get the Q3 financial report until the day of the Assembly, Oct. 13 in San Francisco.
Assemblies have pleaded in previous years for advance notice of the Society’s financial reports but have been ignored.
The first half report was available at least a month ago. Most public companies report quarters within a couple of weeks of the close of the quarter.
This dirty trick, one of many that PRS leaders and staff pull on the Assembly and the members, should be the signal for MWW Group’s Joe Cohen to withdraw his chair-elect candidacy.
He has already embarrassed himself and his firm by accepting the muzzle that PRS puts on the candidates. PRS has the only candidates in the U.S. who can’t answer questions of their constituents.
Since poor financial reporting is at the root of America’s financial troubles, Cohen should not identify himself with a group that indulges in financial trickery.
No Substantial Issues Raised
Only a few questions such as “Where can I find a roommate?” for the conference and “What time is the delegate reception Friday night?” were asked.
Corbett at the beginning of the a.m. call told delegates not to have any dealings with this reporter because that would “only add fodder to his commentary.” In the p.m. session he gave PRS’s Twitter handle for the delegate discussions and said, “We established this to keep Jack O’Dwyer informed. No just kidding.”
Another major financial trick pulled on delegates and the members is booking dues as cash. “Deferred dues-membership” is listed as $300,430 for the half, representing costs of the publications, when it should be at least $1.4 million or about half of dues income of $2,907,285. We challenge PRS to show us any other major trade or professional association that does not defer about half of its dues income. Members get an inaccurate picture of the Society’s financial condition.
No Bylaw Changes; Assembly to be Dis-assembled
There are no bylaw changes for the Assembly to consider and, as with last year, it will again be broken into 15 or more focus groups that are to pick their own topics. Leaders of each group will then report to the dis-assembled Assembly.
Corbett said the a.m. session of the Assembly will be given over to leader presentations (although numerous Assemblies have asked that these be given in written form a week or two before the Assembly) and also that the p.m. session will see the scattering of the delegates throughout the hotel so they can engage in focus groups.
The Assembly, in effect, would be dis-assembled, a technique for Assembly control that was used last year and in many preceding years.
Delegates will not be asked whether they want to do this. Only an uprising at the start of the Assembly, which would involve ditching the agenda, could stop the dissolution of the Assembly for several hours on the one day a year that it meets.
Dunn, Lofgren to Lead Buzz Groups
Laura Dunn, senior consultant, national media and PR, Kaiser Permanente, and Diane Lofgren, SVP, brand strategies, communications and PR, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and a national PRS director, will lead in setting up the focus groups in the afternoon. Lofgren is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society whose chief principle is “Tell the truth and prove it with action.”
Dunn said delegates will be asked to pick their own topics for discussion and that delegates can go from one group to another if they find they are not interested in what one of the groups is saying.
What could happen is the delegates wandering from room to room looking for an interesting discussion. We could suggest a few, including what is in COO Bill Murray’s new contract and why can’t the Assembly be audio or videocast to the membership since the technology for that is cheap and easy? The Canadian PR Society videocasts its general meeting.
Proposed APR Credential: P-APR
Although participation in the accreditation program of the PR Society and its offshoot, the Universal Accreditation Board, is less than half of what it used to be, PRS/UAB are studying a new credential for recent grads with the possible title of “P-APR” which would stand for “Principles for Accreditation in PR.”
The proposal was discussed in yesterday’s morning teleconference for PRS Assembly delegates.
Candidates would take an exam that “evaluates their knowledge of PR principles and ethics,” says a four-page essay on the subject by UAB chair Janet Kacskos of Millersville University and Jay Rayburn of Florida State University. Those who pass could use “an entry-level credential on resumes and other professional materials,” says the essay.
A delegate wondered why the topic is not on the agenda of the Oct. 13 Assembly in San Francisco, saying failure to discuss it would be a waste of the “brainpower” in the room.
Chair Gerry Corbett told the teleconference that the new APR designation is only in the “beta” stage and no decisions will be made on it until next year. The decision will be made by the UAB of which PRS is the dominant member, he said. Thirteen of the directors are from PRS and there is one each from the seven other participants.
The Agricultural Relations Council is described as a member of UAB although it has not sent a single candidate to the APR test since the new test was started in 2003. The Religion Communicators Council has sent two members, both of whom flunked, while the PR Assn. of Puerto Rico has had two passes and four fails in nine years.
UAB started offering a “military” APR last year (APR+M) but only three members participated.
New PRS APRs at 136 Rate vs. 274
An average of 136 new PRS APRs was created in the nine years of the new test ending June 30, 2012, according to figures supplied by the UAB.
In the previous ten years, the average was 274 new PRS APRs created yearly, or about double.
A much smaller percentage of total members is taking part in APR recently because PRS had a smaller membership in the years 1993-2003. There were 15,230 members in 1993 when PRS accredited 274 members. PRS has had 21,000 members for several years.
The previous test included 5.5 hours of written answers and essays and was corrected by an outside service that charged up to $200,000.
Costliest year was 2000 when net cost for creating 246 APRs was $441,467 or an average of $1,794 for each new PRS APR. The testing process that was inaugurated in 2003 involves a “Readiness Review” in which candidates present materials they have worked on followed by a 3.5-hour, computer-administered multiple choice exam.
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