More than 300 PR and journalism students are expected to converge on New York University's Kimmel Center Tuesday for an all-day "PR Career Forum" sponsored by the New York chapter of PRSA, NYU/PRSSA, PRSA Foundation, and Council of PR Firms.

Attendance is being boosted by an essentially free program—the $10 fee includes lunch.

This is a case of you get what you pay for and in this case it’s very little. Mostly it’s speeches by Society leaders followed by employers and recruiters eyeballing students—a classic cattle call.

sealNYU Kimmel Center
The program says students are supposed to "learn about the field of PR" but PR publishers are banned from showing any of their products unless they cough up $1,000 each. There will be no literature or reading table although job-hunting without directories is like gardening without tools or playing golf without clubs.

Chapter and Foundation leaders have frozen the O'Dwyer Co. out so we have sent the e-mail below to the 17 sponsors: Airfoil, APCO, Burson-Marsteller, Columbia University, DeVries PR, Affect, Germinder & Assocs., Global Strategy Group, Johnson & Johnson, Ketchum, MSL/NY, Peppercom, Porter Novelli,  Taylor, Text 100, Weber Shandwick. We hope they will talk sense to the Society leaders.

'Diverse' and Minority Candidates Sought

The program makes a special point about attracting "diverse" and "minority" candidates:

"The mission for the PRSA-NY Career Forum is to attract top diverse talent to the PR profession, helping to develop students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds for a career in public relations. The event is open to all students. Special emphasis will be on attracting minority candidates."

"Diverse" to PRSA means sexual diversity as was explained by 2004 president Del Galloway in January of that year when he invited the PR trade press to Society h.q. to announce this initiative.

COO Bill Murray, revealing the dissolution of the Multicultural Section on Dec. 22, 2009, after 26 years, said the definition of “diversity” was being expanded to include not only racial, ethnic and cultural diversity but the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual community and those with physical disabilities.”

Minorities as well as the gay and lesbian student community have a right to full and unfettered access to databases and reading materials that are unflinching in describing what goes on in PR including its problems and its opportunities.

We messengered this a.m. a package of materials to the NYU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Center at the Kimmel Center in hopes that members will look into this situation and perhaps request an uncensored literature table for the Career Forum.

We called the Center this a.m. and although the Career Forum will be at the Kimmel Center and "diverse" students are especially targeted, the LGBTQ Center had never been informed of the PR career day, a staffer told us.

A 2008 Society membership survey found that members give "a very low priority" to diversity issues, said Lynn Appelbaum, national board liaison to the diversity committee.

She said the 73 section members paying an annual fee of $60 was "far below the 200 minimum" required for a section and that a committee, rather than a section, would be "more effective at reaching Society members on multicultural topics."
 
Below is the e-mail sent yesterday to executives of the 17 sponsors:
 

Hello (CEO or other top Executive):
 
I hope business is good for you and if you are on vacation during this period of religious observances I hope you are relaxing.

I notice that you are one of the sponsors of the Career Forum of the New York chapter of PRSA and its Student chapter at New York University Tuesday, April 2. More than 300 PR and journalism students are expected.
 
There’s no doubt you want the best possible program for the students, many of whom are in debt, working one or more jobs, and worried about their job prospects. That will not take place unless you take a hand in the program.
 
As currently planned, there is no literature table where students can see the basic directories of the industry including our Directory of PR Firms (1,700); our PR Buyer’s Guide (nearly 200 service firms where there are jobs), the Contact directory of PR Week; books on what it is like to work for a corporation or agency; articles by PR pros on how to look for jobs, and names and addresses of helpful groups like the American Society of Journalists & Authors (writers’ conference April 25-27 in NY); Freelancers Union based in Brooklyn, described in the New York TImes March 25 (http://tinyurl.com/ctc3t2y), and New York Financial Writers Assn. which will have a job panel April 16.
 
Job-seeking without such tools is like trying to garden without tools.
 
Lea-Ann Germinder, president of PRSA/NY, the main sponsor, has told me I could take a table for $1,000 and display our products. When I asked if I could display numerous other products, she did not respond.
 
I am not going to pay $1,000 to the chapter or anyone connected with PRSA. The Society’s treatment of me personally has been despicable. I was blocked from all sessions at the 2011 national conference in Orlando although other reporters were admitted. I could only roam the corridors. When I complained about this treatment to fellow reporters, PR Newser wrote about it and received a comment from Art Yann, VP-PR of PRSA, that PRSA has no boycott against me or anyone. http://tinyurl.com/cdvuzn4
 
So Lucille and I went to the 2012 conference at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco and it turned out there was a boycott against me, and a much stricter one. Guards “swarmed” me in the corridor leading to the exhibit hall and forced me to go two escalators up to the lobby. When I talked to someone in the lobby, a guard told me talking to anyone or handing anything to anyone was forbidden, could lead to me being arrested, and I had to leave.
 
I was marched out of the hotel and told I could only stand across the street. Reporters for PR Watch, Toronto Star and Arizona Republic were similarly swarmed and threatened with arrest by “rent-a-cops” at meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2011. The details of such un-American conduct are in this link. http://tinyurl.com/d4q7ex7
 
As a sponsor, you have the clout to break this O’Dwyer boycott and the demand that publishers pay $1,000 to display their products. There should be a literature table with numerous products on it. If I am banned from the Career Forum, I will stand on the sidewalk and show students such products.
 
Cordially,
 
Jack