To help clients shop for PR and wind up with legitimate firms, odwyerpr.com is opening its ranking process to PR firms throughout the year. [rankings form, PDF]

The current ranking of more than 150 firms will remain unchanged but there will be a section on the site beneath the list that will include firms that have satisfied the O'Dwyer ranking rules supporting fee and employee totals with income tax and W-3 forms and providing a current account list.

The entire counseling industry will benefit by having as large a database as possible of firms that have met these reporting requirements. The bigger the database, the more accurate a picture that can be painted as to how the PR counseling industry is faring.

An "O'Dwyer Seal" will be provided to firms that document their revenues and staff and provide a public account list.

Our experience is that seeking financial information from firms during the two-month window of Jan.-Feb. is not enough time for many firms to consider whether they will reveal their financial documents. Some firms contact us after the rankings are published and wonder why they're not in them. When they see that virtually all the major firms are in the rankings and almost all if them are doing well, they are apt to change their minds.

Opening the rankings throughout the year, while not changing the initial rankings, will give them time to think this through. We are glad to discuss this issue with any firm.