|July 3, 2010|
|PRSA Should Give Lewis the Nod|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|We wish Regina Lewis success in becoming the third African-American woman on the PRSA board. |
The Society talks a lot about diversity but has a poor track record in this area.
Lewis would be only the third black woman ever on the board in the 63-year history of the Society.
Only one black man made it to the board—Ron Owens. He quit in 2006 after only five months of a three year term. Obviously he was dissatisfied about something.
Ofield Dukes, 2001 winner of the Society’s Gold Anvil, tried to be the second black male on the board last year but was rejected by the nominating committee. The nod for director-at-large went to Barbara Whitman of Honolulu.
Coincidentally, nomcom chair Rhoda Weiss had spent a lot of time in Honolu working for a hospice.
Dukes wound up in the “back of the bus” as a non-voting board member appointed by chair Gary McCormick.
McCormick had promised early in 2009 to appoint both blacks and reporters to his Strategic Planning Committee. The chair-elect appoints people to the SPC. No appointments whatever were announced for the SPC as far as we can tell and certainly no blacks or journalists.
The Society last year dumped the Multicultural Section because it did not bring in enough revenues--a slap in the face to African-Americans and other minorities.
Few blacks are going to join when it costs $225 in dues plus $65 initiation fee when they can join any of a half dozen Black PR Societies in major cities for dues of $50 or so.
Lewis heads communications at The Potter's House, a non-denominational “mega-church” that draws 100,000 to its annual revival.
We're hoping she will bring a major infusion of morality and openness into the Society that has sunk deeper into itself in recent years.
We're hopeful of open elections during July, August and September instead of the nominees being picked behind closed doors followed by two months of silence.
ProPublica top dogs are overpaid. Pay/benefits of the top eight people at this “investigative” charity (501/c/3) total just over $6 million for the three years 2008-2010. This is way over the top at a time when there are so many starving journalists. We realize that "charity begins at home" but this is carrying it too far.
Editor-in-chief Paul Steiger, ex-Wall Street Journal, is collecting three times $584,000 or $1.75M. A close second is managing editor Stephen Engelberg, ex-New York Times, at $1.43M.
Fellow journalists are calling this level of pay "mind-boggling" and "eye-popping" and we don’t blame them. ProPublica won't reveal exact 2009 pay until filed with the IRS Aug. 15. PRSA has the same policy of divulging pay only in the 990. Members of the Society have to wait a year and ten months to find out what COO Bill Murray got paid.
Is Media Devastation a Good Thing?
Journalist Paul Gillin and others have opened a blog called, “Is Media Devastation a Good Thing?” He tracks the decline of traditional media and the rise of “social” media.
Gillin estimates that about half of the journalists at work in 2001 no longer have jobs and that major consumer magazines have lost more than 60% of their circulation in that period. Carnage is the only word that applies to what is going on at newspapers.
These are not good developments for PR pros since clients are still judging them on placements in mainstream media.
An issue like this should concern the PR Society rather than its obsession with its own inner workings.
Big Companies Like Regular Media
In this same vein, researcher Angus Reid said June 15 that traditional media have much more impact on how blue chips are viewed than social media and advised caution by such companies in seeking notice on SM. Only a few brands such as Nike and Apple do well on all media, he noted. Vision Critical, with whom he works, feels that the “provocative” content needed to score on SM could actually damage brands such as Johnson & Johnson and Kraft, which score at the top of VC’s polls.
Companies Stopped Subscribing
Vision Critical as well as PR trade associations and individual PR pros should not just sit on their hands but urge these giant and smaller companies to start subscribing again to mainstream as well as trade publications.
The PR industry has lost seven publications because big PR firms/corporations stopped buying them. These include PR Reporter, a weekly that carried many research reports, and PR Quarterly, an outlet for PR professors and PR pros. Both died in their 50th years. The Ragan Report, a weekly mostly on internal communications that was just about as old, stopped its printed edition.
Companies should subscribe because individuals will not. They may be non-subscribing themselves out of “real” jobs and find they have to make do with a pastiche of freelance assignments.
Current trend, especially with health insurance costs escalating, is for PR firms and companies to rely increasingly on outside contractors. PR pros are finding themselves almost like the laborers who show up at gas stations in the Hamptons hoping for a day’s work on someone’s estate.
Adding to media devastation is the short term view of marketers who want proof that any ad or PR placement brings tangible results. The marketers, shunning ad schedules in publications, only advertise in special issues that speak to their needs.
This is like watering a flower only when you want to look at it or feeding a pet only when you’re back from a trip. Pretty soon, both are dead.
PR pros previously only had to get plugs in media or elsewhere. Now they have to show proof it “moves the needle.” The industry may be researching itself to death.
Cell phones are dangerous. In about 15 years there will be a pandemic of brain cancers “worse than the Black Plague,” said electronic engineer Lloyd Morgan in the May Harper’s (“For Whom the Cell Tolls”).
He warns that those objects pressed to almost everyone’s ear are piercing the brain with dangerous high-frequency electronic radiation.
A recent victim was Senator Ted Kennedy, a constant cell phone user, who developed a rare brain cancer in back of the ear used for the cell phone.
The danger has increased lately, Morgan notes, because children as young as five are starting with the cell phone habit.
We note that little is ever said about this issue in newspapers which get lots of cell phone ads these days. Media mostly ignored the dangers of heavily advertised cigarets for more than 100 years.
Morgan advises keeping cell phone usage to minimum, never keeping a cell phone in your pocket, never putting a “laptop” computer on your lap, staying at least 15 feet away from a working microwave oven (waves go right through the door), and not using light “dimmers.”
The strength of electromagnetic waves can easily be measured by putting a radio near a computer or TV screen, microwave, light dimmer, etc.
It took 60 years before scientists found that X-rays in improper dosage caused cancer, Morgan notes.
Return to Latest News