We've always wondered what PRSA chair Gary McCormick does as "director of partnership development" at HGTV.

It's a euphemism for ad sales.

mccormick atlanta
Gary McCormick in Atlanta Photo: Nancy Spraker
Off the bat we thought it was lining up stations to buy HGTV programming. But his 40-minute pitch to PRSA/Atlanta July 15 left no question in anyone's mind as to what he does -- sell ads, product placement and promotion to companies.

You "partner" with HGTV if you buy ads and placements on its programming. You are allowed to "touch" the show in your own stores by citing your HGTV mentions or ads.

You not only buy something from HGTV, but you publicize HGTV for nothing. Some business deal (oops, we mean "partnership").

This is brought to you by the folks at Scripps, who jettisoned the money-losing newspaper operations from the profitable cable operations.

McCormick gave the Georgia chapter the PowerPoint pitch he gives to prospects.

Sitting silently near him was Society COO Bill Murray, whose pay/benefits are approaching $400,000. We don't know the latest figure because PRSA has yet to file its IRS Form 990 that was initially due May 15. Murray got $359,866 from PRSA in 2008, the last available figure.

McCormick's title of "partnership development" is in the same category with "credit default swaps" that were really insurance on speculative bets and “home equity loans” that were really second mortgages.

IRS Form 990 Still Missing

McCormick had no information on IRS Form 990 that reports Murray's pay/benefits among other things. He said it will be filed when it is ready.

But this is unacceptable since PRSA disclosed its 2009 audit two months ago and has just released Q2 figures showing a decline of 2% in revenues for the first half to $4,803,643, and a decline of 4.2% in expenses to $4,995,708.

Chronic foot-dragging on the 990 is the reason. It was not released until October last year and the Assembly never got to see it.

There is also no word on how the Society board is handling the appearance of Richard Edelman at its board meeting last Friday in Atlanta at which he asked the board to remove the APR requirement for board/officer posts.

BurrellesLuce Responds to Paine

BurrellesLuce has responded to "Queen of Measurement" Katie Paine, who is urging companies to boycott any firm that uses ad equivalents to measure PR results and is urging PR contests to bar any entry that does the same.

Paine and the measurement crowd have gone off the track with this one.

The Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, which organized the meeting of several PR groups in Barcelona, Spain June 10-18, said the "standout headline from the principles stated at Barcelona is that ad value equivalents are not the value of public relations."

Other culprits in this were the Global Alliance for PR; the PR Society as represented by Gary McCormick; the Chartered Institute of PR (U.K.), and ICCO, the group of associations of European PR firms.

Clients Demand EVA

Johna Burke, senior VP of BurrellesLuce, responding to Paine's boycott drive, said "Many of our clients have established benchmarks using media value and continue to demand the metric" of advertising equivalency.

The company has a "full suite of both quantitative and qualitative metrics and media ad value is included as one of those data points," she said.

Burke further said: "While we hope that the measurement acumen in the industry will evolve to show deeper value of PR, we are also not going to turn our backs on the part of the community that wishes to provide a low threshold metric."

BurrellesLuce does not use “multipliers” in figuring the value of PR space obtained vs. advertising space.

The company only counts the specific portion of an article relevant to the client.

AT&T Silent on Cellphones/Cancer

An AT&T spokesperson has urged us to call the CTIA, the "International Association for the wireless telecommunications industry," on the subject of cellphones and cancer.

The AT&T spokesperson says there is "no evidence that there is a connection" between cellphone use and brain cancers and other forms of cancer.

Europe is far ahead of the U.S. in researching this subject and a new project involving 250,000 people is just starting.

We have asked the AT&T spokesperson why the law in France now requires that an earpiece be sold with any cellphone?

We went to an AT&T store yesterday and purchased a $10 earpiece and now hold the cellphone in our hand when using it (rather than holding it to our ear and radiating our brains with electromagnetic waves that are the same as those used in a microwave oven).

We have asked the AT&T spokesperson why such devices are not automatically sold with cellphones as in France. Why take chances with brain cancer even though it may take decades to develop?