|October 1, 2012|
|Page Members Gage-Lofgren, Jordan, Iwata Duck Press|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|Our journeys as a reporter have taken us to the doorsteps of three members of the Arthur W. Page Society -- Diane Gage-Lofgren of Kaiser Permanente, Ray Jordan, who just left Johnson & Johnson, and Jon Iwata of IBM -- where we find all the doors are closed.|
This is in spite of the “Page Principles” that say members are supposed to “Tell the Truth” and “Prove it with Action.” Furthermore, they are supposed to “lay the groundwork for PR miracles with consistent and reasoned attention to information and contacts.”
Nowhere in the Principles does it say anything about listening to reporters or dealing with them. In fact, the third Principle says “Listen to customers.”
This sounds like the attitude of 1980 PR Society president Patrick Jackson towards reporters which was “duck ‘em,” “screw ‘em,” and “go direct.”
Employees of companies, say the principles, are to be “honest, knowledgeable ambassadors to customers, friends, shareowners and public officials.” There is no mention of media.
Gage-Lofgren, Jordan, Iwata
Arthur Page, son of Walter Page who co-founded Doubleday, Page and Co., was a graduate of Harvard and an aristocratic New York “club man,” according to a bio by Noel Griese in 2001. His memberships included the New York Yacht Club.
Heading AT&T PR from 1927-46, he at first hired ex-reporters as PR staff. But he soon found they were not knowledgeable enough about the company (or maybe not loyal enough) and replaced them with AT&T veterans.
Page was a vocal foe of President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal, saying it “imposed restrictions on liberty.” He blasted plans for federal economic planning and increased taxation in 1938, saying the government seemed to believe “that if no one is allowed to get rich all will be better off … in a country where the opportunity to get rich is banned the fate of the poor will be bad.”
PR Execs and Staff Unavailable
We don’t know how someone is supposed to “tell the truth” if they are not going to listen to any of the facts.
We tried to contact Jordan for nine years at J&J with questions about the Tylenol murders of 1982, whose 30th anniversary was Saturday. Neither he nor anyone on his staff was available. Jordan this month is moving to Amgen.
Contact with Iwata was sought because he is the 2012 chair of Page and was chair of (PR) Seminar in 2007 when it dropped the “PR” from its name (although virtually all the members are involved in PR duties and nearly half are members of Page). IBM’s PR issues include the charge by longtime IBM watcher Robert Cringely that it is shipping tens of thousands of jobs overseas, damaging employee morale in the U.S. IBM since 2007 has refused to give out its U.S. employee-count.
Gage-Lofgren Chops up Assembly
Gage-Lofgren is wanted for questioning because she and staffer Laura Dunn are supervising the chopping up of the Oct. 13 PR Society Assembly into small groups for three hours. This is nothing less than the destruction of the Assembly on the one day a year it meets.
The first four hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., are taken up with leader/staff speeches and a half hour break. There is no opportunity for delegates to address each other in open session. Eight speeches are scheduled from 8:30 to 10 a.m.—three by chair Gerry Corbett, and one each by chair-elect Mickey Nall; COO Bill Murray; treasurer Kathy Barbour; Adam Aisner, immediate past president of the PR Student Society, and parliamentarian Colette Collier-Trohan.
Conflicting Definition of “Unconference”
After a 10:30-11 a.m. “networking break,” there is a half hour nominating committee report by past chair Gary McCormick although no elections are being contested; a 15-minute report by McCormick on “PR Serving America”; Judy Phair making a half hour report on Certification in Education for PR; Frank Oviatt and Maria Russell speaking for 15 minutes on CEPR; Foundation president-elect Lou Capozzi speaking for 15 minutes, and Gage-Lofgren using 15 minutes to describe the three-hour “unconference” she will lead in the afternoon. A “town hall” is set for 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Dunn at first said the three hours will be an “unconference” where any topics can be posted on a bulletin board. But Gage-Lofgren then posted Sept. 12 on the PRS website that while “freedom” will reign, her committee has already come up with a “list of Assembly objectives and themes” and these include “growing and retaining the Society’s membership, uncovering membership and growth development issues and finding ways national can support membership.”
But when we asked Gage-Lofgren for an explanation of this inconsistency, we got an e-mail from the KP legal staff saying we are “harassing” her and face possible legal action.
Marriott, Unlike Hilton, Aids Press Blockage
The San Francisco Marriott Marquis, where the conference will take place, has adopted a severe attitude towards us, demanding that we “register and wear PRS conference badges” and saying that hotel staff will “direct” us to the PRS registration desk if we don’t wear them. PRS is refusing to give this reporter and an assistant press passes. If we fail to get a “badge,” we will be asked to leave, says Marriott event staff.
Marriott has issued a series of commands including barring photos or digital images of Marriott Assocs., any of the public spaces, and the hotel name, logo or meeting room names.
We are not to set one foot inside any of the space being used by PRS which includes the hallways in some instances because there will be exhibits there.
No one on the Marriott PR staff will deal with us, including PR head Kathleen Matthews (wife of Chris “Tell me something I don’t know” Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball”) or Jeff Flaherty, director of corporate relations.
E-mails are being traded with the hotel’s event staff.
Marriott itself is aiding and abetting PRS’s despicable, un-American anti-press policies.
PR Society practices porcupine/skunk PR.
PRS practices “porcupine/skunk” PR meaning being as boorish, offensive and objectionable as possible (BOO!) in the hopes of driving away critical media. It has followed this failed policy for at least two decades.
Hilton Pleaded with PRS for “Fairness”
Marriott’s attitude is the opposite of that of the Hilton, which was the scene of the 2010 conference in Washington, D.C.
Ellen Gonda, SVP of global corporate communications, agreed that we were being unfairly discriminated against and told Yann that if press credentials were given to one PR news medium they should be given to all. That is actually the law (Americans with Disabilities Act section 42, U.S.C. #12182(b)(ii).
Said Gonda: “I tried to reason with him but it fell on deaf ears.”
The PRS “Media Policy” breaks the ADA by saying that “requests for press credentials will be granted on a case by case basis, taking into consideration factors such as the nature of the event, the editorial focus, influence and reach of the publication…”
There are only a few PR media that cover the industry on a daily basis and the O’Dwyer Co. is one of them. Others are PR News, PR Week/US., PRNewser, Bulldog Reporter, Ragan media, and Paul Holmes media. The New York Times, which based three major stories on materials taken from O’Dwyer sources, has called the O’Dwyer NL “the bible of PR.” PR News and PR Week reporters are among those given press passes in recent years while O’Dwyer reporters are denied them.
This reporter was able to cover with 2010 Assembly, using hearing devices supplied by Hilton, but PRS demanded we pay $1,275 to go to any of the plenary sessions. The excuse given by Yann was that we attended the 2009 conference but didn’t do any reporting on it. We sent him our extensive web coverage of Arianna Huffington but this was ignored.
The Hilton “values” statement says, “Integrity—We do the right thing, all the time.” Its five-page Code of Business Conduct and Ethics says it “promotes honest and ethical conduct including fair dealing and the ethical handling of conflicts of interest.” It promises to comply with “applicable laws and governmental rules and regulations.”
Marriott’s Code says it “adheres to high ethical and uncompromising legal standards.” Employees get “business ethics training” which includes being told about “Marriott’s commitment to human rights.”
Marriott’s Legal Survey Should Cover PRS
The company conducts an annual “Legal and Ethical Conduct Survey.” We’d like to hear what it makes of PRS’s press policies while renting Marriott facilities.
Marriott is committed to following the laws itself but takes no responsibility for the behavior of major clients. That was the attitude of staff last year at the Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando. They watched unconcernedly while PRS guards blocked our entrance to all events including the exhibit hall. Their attitude was that PRS can do whatever it wants in space it paid for. They would not speak up in our behalf.
Gonda was sympathetic to us but confessed she could do nothing because PRS had rented the space.
The D.C. Hilton was the scene of a verbal assault by a PRS delegate who screamed obscenities an inch from our face, putting us in fear of physical harm. Twenty delegates, during a break in the Assembly and while we were interviewing Art Stevens, physically assaulted us by jamming hotel pens into our hand to signify we were as crazy as John Nash as portrayed by Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind.”
Leaders of this self-described “flash mob” said the plan was to have everyone at the conference push pens into our hands at every opportunity.
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