Doug Fenichel, 2008 Tri-State district chair of PR Society of America and a vocal supporter of the Society’s accreditation program, reported on his blog this week that he has lost his job at K. Hovnanian Homes, Edison, N.J., after ten years.

doug fenichel
Fenichel, who conducted the first, and apparently last, teleconference for APR members in 2008 (link, sub req'd),
said he was not “angry or bitter” but sees this development as “an opportunity” to help a new employer who is “concerned about its reputation and wants to maintain that reputation and accomplish its goals using an intelligent mix of social and traditional media.”

He notes the housing industry is having its problems and he has joined “a long list of top-notch people shed by the company.”

Ten Attended APR Teleconference

Fenichel had invited more than 100 APRs to the first ever teleconference exclusively for APRs on Sept. 10, 2008. Participating were Kathy Lewton, James Lukaszewski, Joan Capelin, Grace Zimmerman, Jennifer Tornetta, Anita Saunders, Laura Lindsay and Paul Brennan.

They discussed the results of the first five years of the new APR program in which 550 Society members became APR. The rate of 110 new APRs yearly compared with 268 Society APRs created in 1998, 220 in 1997 and 226 in 1996.

Participants in the teleconference mostly said they felt APR gave them an edge over non-APRs. One said that APRs are “five levels” better than non-APRs.
Lukaszewski said that when he visits chapters he holds special meetings with the APRs.

The Universal Accreditation Board, which supervises the APR program, says under its “Usage Guidelines” that holders of APRs “cannot imply the lack of APR in any way affects a competing professional’s competence” and that an APR can be “revoked” for disobeying the Guidelines.
Michael McDougall, VP-CC of Bausch & Lomb, argued in October that PR Society members were violating this Guideline by barring non-APRs from running for national office.

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Anne Dubois, UAB chair, said the “non-competition” rule does not apply to elective offices at associations.

McDougall argued that it should but this argument was not accepted by Dubois or anyone else on the 19-member UAB board which includes ten representatives of the Society.

Swamped by SM Pitches

Fenichel, in a recent blog, said he is being swamped by pitches for social media workshops and seminars, counting 23 such pitches received
between Sept. 27 and Oct. 1 this year. He feels that the PR Society should “establish some standards for classes and teachers and offer some sort of objective ratings or approval system” for the SM offerings. That would “make it easier to select classes,” he said.

Senior members said this would put the Society in the position of rating its competitors and would be a “no-brainer.” They also pointed out that the Society, as a non-profit 501/c/6 corporation, is not supposed to be conducting any kind of business that is in competition with what private, tax-paying companies do.

Likes “By-Passing” Traditional Media

Fenichel, in the blog announcing his layoff by K. Hovnanian, says that social media is a “powerful tool” and that “It’s very exciting to be able to bypass the news media and talk directly with customers and other stakeholders.”

Senior members said this was the definition of advertising and that PR people, as professional communicators, should deal with other professionals such as reporters, editors and the experts they call on.

It is not fair, said the seniors, for a professional who knows many ways of framing an issue and marshalling facts to point to a certain conclusion, to conduct such practices on members of the public who may be unsophisticated.

Lukaszewski, who conducts numerous workshops and seminars for the Society, has said that truth is “15% facts and 85% perception.”
He is also a major supporter of APR, saying it is a “credential in an industry where credentials matter.”

APRs, who make up three-quarters of the Assembly of the Society, on Oct. 16 defeated by a nearly two-to-one margin an attempt by the Committee for a Democratic PRSA to win the right for non-APRs to run for the national board.

Only APRs have been on the board since about 1975 although more than 80% of the members are non-APR and this percentage has been increasing in recent years.