The O'Dwyer PR Library, a resource available without charge to anyone seeking information about the industry, has opened in suite 600 at 271 Madison Ave., between 39th and 40th Sts.
A section of the O'Dwyer offices has been stocked with more than 200 books, PR directories and PR textbooks as well as numerous other informational sources such as magazines, newsletters and articles.
Users will have access to all O'Dwyer NLs dating back to July 7, 1968, O'Dwyer's Directory of PR Firms to 1970, and O'Dwyer's magazines to 1987.
Back issues of PR Week/U.S, PR News, Strategist and Tactics of PRSA and other publishers are available.
Directories include the Contact directory of PR Week/U.S. back to 2000. Membership lists of the "secret societies" of PR including (PR) Seminar, are provided back to 1970.
Jobseekers can peruse the latest O'Dwyer's PR Buyer's Guide that lists nearly 1,000 PR products and services, including 43 executive recruiters in PR
Dozens of leading business and general magazines and PR/ad trade papers are available.
Jobseekers, reporters and other researchers will be able to peruse the O'Dwyer's magazines that focus on 12 PR specialties including tech, healthcare, financial and food/beverages.
Indexes of subjects and people covered in the O'Dwyer NL are available in printed form from1979-2003. O'Dwyer web content is available via a custom Google search engine from 2001 to present.
The web is wonderful, but a physical library allows numerous publications, directories and other sources to be examined in their full form in a few minutes.
No One is Watching You (Unlike PRSA)
Unlike the PRSA online database, where members are warned that "PRSA considers searches of our websites, searches of our member directory, and electronic transmissions and communications made through PRSA websites as PRSA's own records, and PRSA may therefore obtain access to, intercept, disclose and review those transmissions at any time,"
O'Dwyer library users will not have to identify themselves nor reveal what they are looking for.
The first dozen users of the library will be given a set of 12 O'Dwyer's magazines, each one focusing on a PR specialty.
Anything written about PR will be welcome in the library. There will be a digital version of the library that can be downloaded and will have links to many of the articles in the library.
Reporters, for their part, are overjoyed at the web. They have "access to a universe of information from which to ‘pull' their story ideas and locate experts," writes New York counselor Joyce Newman in a blog titled: "The News Media Doesn't Need PR People Any More." Her clients tell her how hard it is to place stories since the arrival of the internet.
Counselor Lucy Siegel of Bridge Global Strategies said the same thing in a blog posted March 19 on the shrinkage of media. "You can no longer depend on the media to get your messages out to your target audiences," she wrote.
First Target of Library: High Schoolers
One purpose of the O'Dwyer library will be to dissuade high schoolers from thinking about taking any PR, communications or journalism courses in college.
These three areas are vocational in nature and don't belong in higher education in the first place. In addition, the three are in such a state of flux that anything learned in college will be outmoded by the time students graduate.
The comic strip "Pearls Before Swine" (from the biblical command "do not cast pearls before swine lest they trample them underfoot") mocked communications as a major on April 3. The "rat" character, the "voice" of author Stephen Pastis who speaks truth in a rude way, tells a communications major that he has learned "how to be unemployed." The strip appears in 650 newspapers.
The Princeton Review, consulted by about half of students headed to college, said in 2007 that a PR degree is not needed to get a PR job and that a liberal arts degree was best. It continues to advise that, again saying that, "according to an old saying, advertisers lie about the product. PR people lie about the company."
Another aspect is that politics of one sort or another becomes the arbiter of what is communicated in PR as well as journalism. A publication may not want to offend an advertiser. PR people at companies and PR firms run everything by a gauntlet of corporate goals, lists of friends and enemies, and even pet peeves of executives before anything is disseminated. Truth is only one consideration and it may be far from the deciding one.
High school guidance counselors must warn students about PR/comms/J courses because these will be hard sold in college.
The students, being teenagers, are fodder for such cannons. Typical hard-selling of PR took place at the PRSA/NYU "Career Forum" April 2.
PR "Scholarship" Is a Wasteland
The PR "scholarship" that we have encountered is a vast wasteland.
A good dose of criticism of college profs was administered April 3 by columnist John Podhoretz in the New York Post.
He quoted William Butler Yeats as saying in 1915 that college was a place for "humorless, thick-witted, passionless pedants who were living off the greatness of the past."
"Tedious scholarship still flourishes on campus," said Podhoretz, noting that college catalogues show profs "get ahead by focusing on pointless minutiae."
This certainly applies to PR.
Examples of deficient PR writing and research includes Quinnipiac Prof. Kathy Fitzpatrick's description of why PRSA ditched its enforceable Ethics Code in 2000 (ignoring pleas of members and the $50K findings of the Ethics Research Council).
Fitzpatrick mentioned some of the reasons for dumping the Code but left out a lot. She should have included O'Dwyer reporting on this subject.
The article appeared in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. Texas Tech Ph.D. candidate Patrick Merle's complained that the PR trade press does not pay enough attention to what academics write about PR (but he failed to include any O'Dwyer publications or PR Week/U.S. in his research).
Merle's piece ran in the online PR Journal of the Society run by Prof. Don Wright of Boston University.
We have offered Wright an article on the many other forces driving cancellation of the enforceable Code but have been refused so far. One requirement is that "peers" would have to review our work. We don't know of any "peers" who have spent 45 years researching and writing about PR on a daily basis.
High school guidance counselors throughout the U.S. will be sent news of O'Dwyer's PR Library and invited to access its free web version or visit in person.