Although 2011 PR Society chair Rosanna Fiske told PR Newser Dec. 7, 2010 that “diversity” would be a “key issue” during her term, the 2011 board posted on the Society website this month lacks African-Americans for the fourth year in a row.

Gone are the two African-Americans who had served as non-voting senior counsels last year—Gold Anvil winner Ofield Dukes and Wynona Redmond, VP-PA and government relations, Dominick’s Fine Foods of Safeway, Chicago.

Rosanna Fiske
Rosanna Fiske
They had been appointed by 2010 chair Gary McCormick.

Board Is Meeting Today (Shhhhhh!)

The 2011 board is meeting today for the first time at Society h.q. at 33 Maiden Lane.

There is no notice of this meeting on the PRSA website. A member who asked if there was a board meeting today was told by COO Bill Murray that the board meets monthly, some of them in-person, and such meetings are not open to the public.

He did not answer the question of whether the board is meeting today. He said minutes of in-person meetings would be made available.

VP-PR Arthur Yann, asked the same question by this website via an e-mail and phone call, did not return either.

Calls to other directors were not returned although an assistant of one said the director is in New York today at the Society’s board meeting.

A major order of business at a first board meeting is requiring directors to sign three separate agreements of confidentiality.

One is to let the elected chair or certain staff members be the only spokespersons for the Society. Directors are forbidden to speak publicly for the Society without the permission of h.q.

McCormick Promised Black Committee Members

As chair-elect in 2009, McCormick was chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. He said he would appoint African-Americans as well as reporters to that committee. The board apparently blocked such appointments.

Dukes said he only went to the January 2010 meeting and became inactive after that because of health problems. There was no board meeting in the second quarter, the first time that the board had ever skipped an in-person meeting.

Dukes said he and Redmond were serving one year terms on the Society board. Redmond did not return a phone call and e-mail. She is past president of the National Black PR Society.

Dukes, Lewis Defeated for Board

dukes, redmond
Dukes, Redmond
Dukes ran for at-large national director in 2009 but was defeated by Barbara Whitman of Hawaii.

African-American Regina Lewis, head of communications of the Potter’s House large non-denominational church of Dallas, ran for at-large director in 2010 but lost to Susan Walton, a PR teacher at Brigham Young University.

Lewis has been a member of PRS since 1992 while Walton joined Nov. 10, 2005. Only two blacks have served on the Society board in its 61-year history—Debra Miller and Cheryl Procter-Rogers.

Members said Lewis was the better candidate because not only was she a member much longer than Walton, but was from the corporate side.

Most directors are solo practitioners or with PR firms. The 2011 board has a record five educators on it.

“Ethics” also A Key Issue for Fiske

Fiske also said that “ethics” would be a major focus of her term of office.

The Society in late 2009 closed its Multicultural Section because there were fewer than 100 members, far below the 200 needed for a viable section.

Fiske, in a letter to Advertising Age Jan. 17, said that “diversity within the (PR) profession will be the key” to the success of PR firms.

FIU J Program Called “A Mess”

Criticism has surfaced about the FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where Fiske is an associate professor.

“FIU’s Journalism Program Is a Mess,” headlined the Miami New Times April 2010.

The article brought more than 25 comments from students and recent grads, most of them negative.

Complaints were made of class sizes, not enough attention from teachers especially in the area of improving writing skills, lack of student influence with the administration, and poor morale among faculty and students.

One student wrote that most of the classes at the school were “a load of tedious B.S…it’s not the professors’ fault, because I’ve had awesome experiences with everyone I’ve taken so far; it’s just that the SJMC, like most of FIU, is tied down by their own bureaucratic dead weight. The school is so obsessed with test scores and new buildings and all that other glittery, but utterly meaningless stuff that it totally forgets about the students.”

Board Asked to Investigate Threats

Jack O’Dwyer of this website has asked the board to investigate repeated threats of physical harm to him by an Assembly delegate as well as interference with his coverage of the 2010 Assembly.

The following e-mail was sent to the board:

To Board of the Society:

As you know, the delegate who threatened me in Washington has sent an anonymous note threatening again to beat me to a "pulp" if I did something again (which I never did in the first place).

This is a matter that should be investigated by the board. One of the directors knows who this person is, according to an e-mail to me from Arthur Yann.

The board should be fully informed of the impediments thrown in my way on Oct. 16 when I tried to cover the Assembly.

I was blocked from taking any pictures, even before the Assembly started, blocked from recording anything (for the first time), blocked from attending the Assembly lunch when I needed to interview the delegates about the APR vote, and then was subjected to obscenities screamed at me by a delegate while I waited for my ride in front of the Hilton hotel.

A “Flash Mob” of about 20 delegates rudely interrupted me while I was trying to interview delegate Art Stevens, a leader of the Committee for a Democratic PRSA.


Jack O’Dwyer