The PR calendar is dotted with expensive events that only the bosses can attend.
A good way to rectify this imbalance would be for the cash-heavy PR associations (supposedly "non-profit") to raid their bloated treasuries and spring for a midtown New York library and meeting place that could serve the lower PR echelons, including the unemployed and PR newcomers.
The Fat Cats will be purring this Thursday when they pay $495 a head ($460 each at tables for ten) for the annual PR Week/U.S. awards banquet at the Sheraton New York Hotel.
We don't begrudge all these people having a good time but it's part of a sickening trend of all the goodies gravitating to the top.
What working stiff in PR has $495 to go to this event?
Or $5,000 (at least) to attend the PR Seminar annual wingding at a plush resort?
PR used to be a far more democratic industry.
Let Them Eat Cake
A Marie Antoinette "Let them eat cake" attitude has swept the PR industry with lower echelons getting the short end of the stick.
Alleged PR associations sit on millions of dollars and claim that shoring up their treasuries is their main purpose. There's no need for these groups to have all that cash sitting around when the only purpose for this is to insure that their mostly overpaid executives are guaranteed employment.
They should all chip in for a midtown New York PR library that would be open to all at no cost.
PR pros used to have this before the out-of-towners took control of NANA in 1980 and pushed h.q. to midtown south and then all the way downtown in 2004.
Ideal location of this PR library would be 317 Madison Ave. at 42nd St. where 22 units are now available, including 5,777 sq. ft. on the 23rd floor of the building. That is the floor where the Council of PR Firms and Page cohabit in 1,700 sq. ft.
New York commercial real estate is in desperate straits with upwards of 20% of space vacant. The building could cut a good deal with CPRF ($822K cash/savings); Page ($581K); Institute for PR ($305K) and NANA (about $2M in cash and $1.7M in the stock market).
We would expect that some individuals who head ad/PR domains and who have made tons of money would contribute to the library.
This would include John Wren of Omnicom (left), who has pocketed more than $100 million in the past ten years while OMC stock dipped from a high of $53 in 1999 to around $35 presently.
Martin Sorrell of WPP ( below, right), who in one recent year was England's highest paid executive, might throw in a pound or two.
PR Execs Support Move
Some PR CEOs we have spoken to say it's a natural and much needed move. When enough of them get together, they will go public.
The facility would be staffed by Kathy Cripps and Matt Shaw of CPRF ($411,335 in salary/benefits in 2008) and Tom Nicholson of Page ($197,207). No need to hire anyone.
At last, the associations would be living up to their tax-free status by doing something for the industry at large and not just for their few members.
We would donate to the library access to our website, which has nine years of stories and data; copies of our magazine, directories and newsletter, and other research materials such as our 90-page history of PR Seminar.
PR Week/U.S., PR News and Bulldog would no doubt contribute materials.
The Institute for PR, instead of having h.q. in Florida, could put a lot of its materials on display in the library.
The definition of a professional society, by the way, is that it has a library open to the public. Not only could meetings of New York groups be held at this facility, but it could serve as a place where prospective clients of PR firms could ingest a load of information and perspectives about PR in a hurry.
It could be an excellent source of new business for all PR firms whether or not they are members of the CPRF, NANA, Page, PR Seminar, or whatever.
They would just be individuals. Individuals have rights. They should not be compelled to join a group to get them.