The "Career Forum" set for April 2 at New York University’s Kimmel Center needs heavy alterations if it is to live up to its title.
As presently planned, it is not a "Career Forum" at all but a "cattle call" or "shape up" such as is practiced on the docks where potential workers are paraded before bosses.
This is a day set up to be of, by and for the employers, a chance for them to fill quotas of minority workers. Why anyone except minorities would attend is a good question.
PRSA/New York's website spells out the purpose of the day—"Special emphasis will be on attracting minority candidates."
This is also the flag being waved by one of the sponsors of the day, the Foundation of the Society. It unveiled a new mission statement Nov. 9, 2012 saying it will now focus on attracting to PR “a diverse range of ambitious and promising students.”
The Foundation, whose board includes five past chairs of PRSA and the current chair as well as current director Diane Gage-Lofgren, is feeling its oats these days.
It believes it has tapped a new source of income and publicity that will never run out—the annual Paladin Award Dinner that honors a PR leader.
Foundation Is Redundant
The Foundation actually should not exist. In its original form, it was the PRSA Institute which walked in 1989 to become the Institute for PR. Directors had rebelled against the demand of PRSA that the entire board be accredited.
Having two 501/c/3 non-profits is more than the PR industry can afford. PRSA should have accepted the independent nature of the Institute but it would not.
As for the alleged "independence" of the Foundation, its board and the regular PRSA board were one and the same in 2004-05. Too many current and ex-PRSA leaders are on the board now for it to claim independence.
NY Chapter, NYU Chapter Are Tools of PRSA
The New York chapter and NYU Student chapter are being used to promote a PR initiative of the Foundation—the recruitment of minorities to PR.
The Society itself has so few minorities as members that it shut down its Multicultural Section in 2009 because it only had 73 of the required minimum of 200 members. “Diversity has a very low priority with members,” said Prof. Lynn Appelbaum of CCNY, board liaison to the section, quoting a Society survey.
Attracting minorities to PR is a dubious proposition given the ethical pressures on PR people. Half of the Society’s members responding to polls by the Ethical Resource Center in 2000/01 said they were under "extraordinary pressure" to do unethical things. A 1999 $150,000 poll by the Foundation itself and the Rockefeller Foundation found "PR Specialist" to rank 43rd in believability on a list of 45 sources of information.
What is the Society doing about this? It is throwing more logs on the lack of credibility fire by indulging in numerous anti-Democratic, anti-information, anti-New York and anti-press policies and practices.
Presidents Must Lead the Way
The April 2 Career Forum, which as of this writing lacks the names of any speakers and subjects and only lists seven sponsors (three of them chapter board members) is as bogus as the “Real World” career forum of the Society’s Georgia chapter Feb. 22.
Lea-Ann Germinder, president of PRSA/NY, and Shira Palka, president of PRSSA/NYU, should live up to their titles by acting presidential and adding a dose of reality to the Career Forum April 2. Students, many of them up to their ears in debt, deserve nothing less than the best information available on job opportunities.
Reporters were banned in Atlanta and there was no literature table. This is also the case at NYU.
Students need to learn about the vast differences between corporate and agency PR.
An authority on the former is Wendell Potter, author of Deadly Spin in which he recounts his 20 years at Cigna. He spoke at the NYU bookstore Nov. 22, 2010.
The New York and NYU chapters should reach out to him as well as to Jennifer Prosek of Prosek Partners, New York, author of Army of Entrepreneurs, which gives a highly detailed look at what life is like in agencies (the non-stop pursuit of new business and added business with current clients).
The O’Dwyer directories of PR firms and PR services should be available for perusal by students as well as PR Week’s Contact directory of PR firms, corporations and associations.
Articles should be available on setting up your own business and rules for internships as well as working for companies as an outside contractor.
Another author who gives a look into one of PR’s most famous case histories is Scott Bartz, author of The Tylenol Mafia, which claims that the poisoning of Tylenol capsules in 1982 took place in the Johnson & Johnson distribution chain rather than at individual stores. How J&J handled this crisis is often held up as a textbook example of effective PR.
NYU President’s Resignation Sought
The faculty of NYU’s largest college last week voted “no confidence” in president John Sexton by a margin of 298-224.
Issues include his alleged “top-down management style,” his campaign of opening NYU facilities in other countries including Abu Dhabi, his pay of $1.5 million yearly plus a $2.5M “length of service” bonus to be paid in 2015, and his plans to add six million square-feet to NYU facilities by 2031.
NYU News, the student newspaper, has added its voice to those criticizing Sexton, which is an indication of the independence of the paper.
We are sending this and other articles to the paper in hopes that it will cover the flawed plans for the Career Forum.
Blocking press coverage and barring a literature table are free speech and freedom of the press issues that should resonate with the paper and the NYU journalism dept.