PR Society of America, in a desperate effort to keep its membership from slipping below the 2000 mark of 20,266, is offering member prospects all sorts of gifts including the latest, free access to its quarterly, PR Strategist.

giftThe Society, which is already offering as part of its “Six Weeks of Giving” membership drive six webinars worth $250 each, free section memberships worth $60, and waived initiation fee worth $65, has now made an e-mail to prospects offering a free read of its quarterly, normally available only to members paying $255 in dues.

Articles include “The Explosion of Mobile Audiences: What it Means for PR”; “Generation on the Go: Creating Branded Content for a Sharing Culture”; “Why Healthcare Companies Are Turning to Real World Evidence,” and “Communicating Effectively: What All Company Executives Can Learn from Paula Deen.”

Deen, who revealed she had diabetes while promoting a drug for that illness, lost her Food Network program and sponsorships after a lawsuit revealed she used racial slurs. 

PR Society Needs Reforms, Not Gifts

The PR Society, whose membership total has been stagnant for 13 years and which now faces the possibility it could dip below the 2000 level, must reform itself if it is to attract PR people. It should stop thinking of itself as a commodity to be marketed in the “holiday season” at marked-down prices.

This is the season of good cheer and good will and it should exhibit that and lay down the swords.

1. The APR clique that has monopolized offices since the 1970s should be ousted forthwith by a teleconference Assembly, a technically easy thing to do.

2. The Society must stop lying to member prospects. It must tell them they cannot hold national office or serve on the Ethics Board until they are APR (another $285 for a bogus multiple-choice test that has little to do with PR reality).

3. The bylaw change making Bill Murray CEO must be rescinded by the same teleconference that erases APR from the bylaws. Members must regain control of their own Society.

4. VP-PR Stephanie Cegielski must report to chair Joe Cohen and the board and not to Murray. Chairs must stop hiding from the PR press; they should be ordered to hold press conferences.

5. The withholding and false reporting of financial information must cease. The annual audit, quarterly reports and IRS Form 990 must go on the website as early as possible in the public areas. Reporters must be allowed as members.

6. The Society must follow the ABA, AMA, AICPA and other major groups in deferring about half of dues income, a requirement of FASB. Dues cannot be booked until earned.

7. Dues of $255 must be slashed. The payroll of nearly $5.5 million is far too high for a staff that has two PR people on it. The head of staff should be a PR careerist. A midtown facility that is convenient to the PR community should be set up. That would be a fitting peace offering to the New York PR/media community, the largest in the nation. National conferences should be in New York most of the time. 

8. The brass knuckle legal, marketing and financial culture of the Society needs replacement with a gentler, more accommodating PR culture. PR people could do most of the jobs at h.q.

9. Ethics enforcement must return. PR cannot be called a “profession” without a disciplinary process. Formerly a $30,000-$50,000 annual Society expense, it has slipped to $2,000-$4,000 annually. Legal bills have totaled $582,608 in the past nine years. Staff has no interest in ethics, supposedly the No. 1 concern of members.

10. The massive amounts of information stolen from the members must be returned—PDF of all members and contact points; list of Assembly delegates; transcript of what they say; list of all staffers with titles and contact points, and list of 110 chapter presidents. Monitoring of member use of the Society database must cease.