|March 11, 2010|
|Wagged Attacks Us, Likes PR Week|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|We finally smoked someone out at Waggener Edstrom.|
I guess calling them "cheapskates" got under the skin of Kent Hollenbeck, VP of marketing and corp. communications (pictured).
What else would you call a “PR” firm that had revenues of $119 million in 2008 and 843 employees but could afford only one $249 subscription to us? This year we told Wagged to cough up $10K for firm-wide odwyerpr.com access or leave the rankings.
Hollenbeck’s March 1 blog linked to gawker.com where former PR Week reporter Hamilton Nolan huffed that we're "on crack, ethically speaking."
That pleased Hollenbeck no end.
$10K is a pitiful sum compared to the $40K Wagged pays to the Council of PR Firms each year not to mention tens of thousands of dollars for the PR Week awards banquet for sponsorships and tables.
Wagged is one of the $15K sponsors of the PRW banquet this Thursday.
What the firm does is give lots of money to our competition and CPRF and the publicity to us.
That sort of thing helped to kill our old newspaper, the New York Journal American. It got the press releases while TV got the ads.
We had been giving Wagged No. 2 ranking on our list of PR firms but it doesn’t act like a PR firm so we’re removing it.
Unlike Wagged execs, principals of PR firms in our rankings talk to us and let all their employees have access to our website. They’re not stingy with either information or $$. Theirs is not a culture of fear and repression.
We regard Wagged’s harsh attitude to reporters (PRW apparently excepted) to be the antithesis of PR.
Seattle Times columnist Jonathan Martin was ordered by a Wagged employee last October not to use her name or suffer being called "inaccurate.”
Hollenbeck Likes PRW Ranking
What got under our skin is Hollenbeck saying that Wagged is "taking part in other industry rankings that do not require payment…"
There is only one other PR ranking and that is PRW's which requires no tax documents nor account lists and allows corporate issue ad commissions up to 10% of total firm revenues.
PRW does not collect any revenue totals for specialties such as healthcare, tech, financial, beauty/fashion, food, etc., which is where the PR counseling industry has been headed for at least a decade. The O’Dwyer specialty PR rankings are the only such rankings on Google.
Our rankings require top pages of corp. income tax returns, W-3s showing total payroll, account lists and other substantiation.
PRW “Contact” Directory Has No Price on It
Since Hollenbeck is so effusive in his support of PRW, saying Wagged has advertised in it and “will continue to sponsor events that offer a thoughtful dialogue on emerging industry topics,” we will point out that PRW’s annual Contact directory of data on PR firms, corporations and assns. no longer has any price on it. The price used to be $249.
For years PRW gave away this directory as part of the $198 subscription to PRW in violation of USPS periodicals mailing rules that say a premium may be no more than 60% of the cover price of the publication.
Subscribers are not supposed to be “bribed” into subscribing to a periodicals rate publication.
We took a copy of Contact and the PRW subscription offers to the USPS a couple of years ago. They did an examination that resulted in Contact only being sold as part of a PRW subscription with no price at all on it.
Wagged 'Supports' the PR Trade Media?!
Also getting under our skin is Hollenbeck’s statement that Wagged "supports the industry" (in reference to our pleas for PR firms and others to support the rapidly vanishing PR trade press).
If Wagged is so supportive of PR trade media then why have seven PR publications disappeared since 1998, the year that the Council of PR Firms and PRW were born?
What happened in 1998 was that a bunch of big firms got together and decided there was only going to be one dominant PR publication in the U.S.—PRW. Many millions were thrown into it while other publications put on a starvation diet.
PR Reporter and PR Quarterly both died in their 50th years. Also no longer published are Reputation Management mag and Inside PR NL of Paul Holmes (Inside PR continues as a website), and PR Intelligencer Report and PR Journal of Ragan Communications and the weekly Ragan Report (which continues online).
The weekly PR Reporter carried lots of research reports, many of them written by Boston University grad students. We always read it and got good stuff out of it.
PRQ carried thoughtful pieces by PR professors and PR pros. Its articles were the second most copied by NANA (PR Society) for its information packet business (after O’Dwyer articles).
Eleven info packets were purchased and found to contain 19 PRQ articles totaling 50 pages. The packets had 52 O’Dwyer articles which in some packets (contracts) were one-third of the articles in the packet.
Where were Wagged and all the other big PR firms when these publications were dying?
Big Firms Ignored PRQ Salesperson
The ad rep for PRQ told us he pounded on the doors of all the big shops for years to no avail. The only ad PRQ ever got was from North American Precis Syndicate. PRQ's circulation was a pitiful 900.
After ten years here, PRW’s average paid and requested circulation to Oct. 1, 2009 was 6,155, said its USPS statement in its November 2009 issue. There are at least 250,000 PR people in the U.S. according to the U.S. government statistics.
Total average press run was 9,659 with an average of 1,814 being distributed free and an average of 1,670 copies not distributed at all.
What a waste of paper!
It reminds us of another waste—the 20,000 printed copies of NANA’s Tactics and Strategist still being distributed when they should be PDFs. NANA, contradictorily, killed the infinitely more useful annual directory of members, saying it wasted too much paper and postage.
NANA's two print publications make it almost impossible for any other PR print publication to thrive since NANA’s 20,000 members are not going to subscribe to anything else.
NANA’s printed PR Journal was o.k. in the 1950s and 60s when there were no PR publications except newsletters. T&S are now in competition with publications of tax-paying companies.
PRW publisher Haymarket, which worked closely with NANA when it brought PRW here (using NANA’s membership list for initial circulation), should not have agreed to come unless NANA agreed to stop publishing T&S.
O’Dwyer Ranking Loaded with Minus Signs
The O’Dwyer ranking of PR firms, published today on our website, is loaded with minus signs.
We salute the firms that reported no matter what their results were. This increases the credibility of the PR counseling industry.
Not on the list are nine members of the Council of PR Firms who think they can cheap out on us and still be in our rankings.
They’re not going to get away with giving huge amounts of money to the Council of PR Firms and PR Week and the publicity to us.
The nine, topped off by Wagged, paid about $112,000 in CPRF dues last year for their $223 million in U.S. revenues (dues are .65% of revenues to max dues of $40K).
For their total of 1,486 employees they took exactly 11 O’Dwyer subscriptions at $295 each. The firms accuse us of “selling” the rankings and we accuse them of terminal tightness.
What we are doing is using the rankings as a club to get them to cough up their fair share of the cost of compiling the rankings and hosting them all year long on this website.
None of the nine will meet with us or talk to us on the phone although a few trade e-mails with us.
The Wagged New York office is a few blocks from us but we have never met anyone from Wagged. Attempts to set up a meeting are rebuffed. Someone from Seattle talks to us on the phone.
Some PR firm CEOs ask why should they get an O’Dwyer site license when only the CEO sees the website?
Such stinginess with information as well as money disqualifies them as “PR” firms.
(Hollenbeck photo via Facebook)
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