A Hilton executive has failed in an attempt to get PRSA to issue press credentials to O'Dwyer reporters for coverage of the Society’s annual conference at the Washington Hilton Oct. 16-19.

Ellen Gonda, SVP of global corporate communications, said she called up PRSA VP-PR Arthur Yann and tried to tell him that if press credentials are given to one PR news media they should be given to all.

"I tried to reason with him but it fell on deaf ears," said Gonda.

Current Society policy is that any O’Dwyer reporter will have to pay the full conference rate of $1,275 to cover any of the sessions in the main conference.

Assembly coverage on Oct. 16 is allowed by two O’Dwyer reporters, but this does not include web editor John O’Dwyer because Yann says he also sells ads and this disqualifies him as an editorial employee.

Yann, pictured, has provided no reason why Scott Van Camp of PR News should be given a free pass but not O’Dwyer reporters.

The “Values” statement of Hilton includes “Integrity—We do the right thing, all the time.” However, Gonda pointed out that the PR Society has control over its own meeting.

The hotel has said that it will provide hearing assistance to this reporter, as requested, for any meeting that we attend during the four-day conference.

However, O’Dwyer reporters are not going to pay the $1,275 fee and could be blocked from attending any of the sessions from Oct. 17-19.

Washington Hilton
Robert Hastings, SVP of communications, Bell Helicopter, and Torod Neptune, VP of communications, products and services, Verizon, who are co-chairs of the conference, have been asked to use their good offices to obtain tickets to the Sunday night opening reception for O’Dwyer reporters.

Blackstone Owns Hilton

The Blackstone Group acquired Hilton in 2007 in a $26 billion cash deal (including taking on $6B of Hilton debt) that made Blackstone the largest hotel owner.

Hilton brands cover 3,200 hotels worldwide with 545,000 rooms.

Peter Rose is managing director of PR of Blackstone, taking over duties that had been held by John Ford, who was senior VP-corporate communications. Rose has been informed of the PR Society press policy that will be carried out on Hilton premises.

Ford, with Blackstone since 1995, retired earlier this year. He was previously advertising director, Secretary of Defense, and was an English professor at West Point.