The board of the PR Society of America is not holding an in-person meeting for the first time in the history of the Society, according to sources close to the board.

VP-PR Art Yann has refused to answer direct questions as to whether there will be such a meeting, replying via e-mail that it is not correct to say that the board has or will not meet in January.

This leaves the possibility of a board meeting by teleconference which is legal under the bylaws adopted in 2009. The board skipped its in-person quarterly meeting last spring.

The previous bylaws called for a board meeting “as soon as practicable after the beginning of each year.” There is no requirement for in-person meetings in the new bylaws.

Meeting last Friday at h.q. was the Foundation board of the Society.

COO Bill Murray told a senior member that the Society board meets by teleconference or in-person each month.

January Meetings Were Key

Previous January meetings were seen as important for getting the new board off to the proper start.

Consultant Glenn Tecker of Yardley Pa., author of several books on association management, lectured the directors for the entire day of Jan. 26, 2008 (link, sub req'd).

Jeff Julin, 2008 CEO, said then that the board, after meeting with staffers on Friday, Jan. 25, “participated in a full-day workshop focusing on building a knowledge-based board.” The session, Julin said, “covered practical and theoretical aspects of creating a ‘strategic’ board that focuses on outcomes and puts data, research and information at the core of the board’s work and deliberations.”

Tecker is co-author of “New Model of Decision; Critical Shifts in the Strategic Direction of the American Society of Assn. Executives.” He also co-authored “Building a Knowledge-based Culture: Using 21st Century Work and Decision-Making in Associations.”

Reed Byrum, 2003 president, employed consultant Janet Rechtman of Atlanta for a two-hour presentation. She was described as an expert in “conflict management” and as a “certified mediator.”

Rechtman had been told of complaints by directors that the board was being run too tightly by Byrum and that this was causing “leaks” about board behavior, decisions and communications.

Byrum had given seat assignments to directors.

Seven New Directors

Some Society members thought that a January board meeting was particularly important since there are a record seven new directors:

—Joseph Cohen of MWW, East Rutherford N.J.;
--Geri Ann Evans of Evans PR Group, Longwood, Fla.
--Kirk Hazlett, Curry College, Belmont, Mass.
--Stephen Iseman, Ohio Northern Univ., Ada, Ohio.
--Debra Peterson, CenturyLink, Overland Park, Kan.
--Marisa Vallbona, CIM Inc., La Jolla, Calif.
--Susan Walton, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah.

No Response Yet on Physical Threats

The board has yet to respond to a request that it investigate threats of physical violence to this reporter by an as yet unidentified Assembly delegate.

The threats were made outside the Washington Hilton on Oct. 16 and were repeated in a letter to this reporter.

The following e-mail was sent to the board:

To Society Board Members:

As you know, the delegate who threatened me in Washington has now sent an anonymous note threatening to beat me to “a pulp” if I did something again (i.e., improperly kiss national director Marisa Vallbona, which I deny doing).

This is a matter that should be investigated by the board. One of the directors witnessed this verbal attack on me and knows who the delegate is, according to an e-mail to me from VP-PR Arthur Yann.

The board should also 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.

In addition, the Society tried to charge three O'Dwyer reporters $3,825 to cover the conference when reporters for PR News and PR Newser were given free passes.

The only reason given for this-that O'Dwyer reporters did not cover the 2009 conference-was false.


Jack O'Dwyer