Bill Murray, president and COO of PR Society of America whose current contract is a secret held by him and the board, apparently will get a new two-year contract as of Jan. 22, 2012.

Previous searches for a COO have taken from six months to a year and there is no sign of a search committee.

The Society looked a year before signing up Murray in late 2006. He took office Jan. 22, 2007.

The search committee, headed by 1997 president Debra Miller, said it was looking for an executive who would be “charismatic,” a “visionary,” and “an accomplished public speaker.”

Murray has kept a low profile. He has not addressed the membership of the New York chapter in his 4.5 years in office. Society h.q. has been asked for a list of his chapter or public appearances but has not responded.

Had Disastrous Auburn Visit

Murray took questions by telephone for 50 minutes from a group of Auburn University PR students on Jan. 29, 2007.

They were surprised he was not a member of the Society and disappointed that he did not have answers to many questions even though they were submitted in advance.

Initial format was that students could converse with him directly but this was changed so that only Prof. Robert French could ask questions.

Comments were sought and one student wrote: “The general consensus was he really didn’t know jack about PR, was never a member, nor was he familiar with their practices…he stumbled over all his words and danced around Prof. French’s questions.”

Neither Murray nor any national offices have given a press conference since 1993.

Chair Rosanna Fiske and VP-PR Arthur Yann were asked by e-mail today whether the board has approved a new contract for Murray or whether there is a search committee. Neither has responded. An e-mail to Murray drew the reply that he was out-of-the-office until Monday.

Murray’s current contract was renewed at an in-person board meeting in the summer of 2010. However, under the new bylaws, the board can conduct all its meetings by teleconference. The PRS website does not announce when board meetings are scheduled.

Pay/Fringes Were $373,618 in 2009

Murray’s pay/fringes were $373,618 in 2009, a figure that was released in IRS Form 990 after last year’s Assembly.

Seven other PRS executives were listed at salaries over $100K—Phil Bonaventura, $221K pay/fringes; John Robinson, $140K; Yann, $137K; Karla Voth, $135K; Jennifer Ian, pay/fringes of $131K; Barbara McDonald, $126K, and Judith Voss, $115K.

Total, although fringes are not provided for Robinson, Yann, Voth, McDonald and Voss, is $1,382,923.

The remaining 45 or so staffers split $3,985,283 or an average of $85,561. Total 2009 pay/fringes was $5,368,206.

Exact number of staffers is not available because staff/leaders removed all but seven of the names from the website in 2009. Tradition for many decades was to list all staffers and their phones and e-mails.

Dues Notice: 11 Attachments

Fiske’s announcement of the $30 proposed dues hike had 11 attachments including one that said “William Murray’s Commentary.”

However there was no commentary by him on the proposal, only past columns on “The Value of National Question” (May 2011); “Behind the Numbers” (April 2011); “Facing the Challenges Ahead” (March 2011, and “Strategic Thinking: Planning for the Society’s Future” (February 2011).
Early comments from chapter leaders posted on the Society website about the dues hike include those that say renewals are already hard to obtain without a further dues increase since many employers are refusing to foot the bill, and questions about the Society’s perennial goal of returning “one percent of budget to reserves.”

Members want to know what are the reserves now and what does PRSA mean by “reserves.” Technically, only banks use the term “reserves.”

According to the Federal Reserve, “Reserve requirements are the amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities.”

Profit and non-profit corporations have “net assets” which is assets minus liabilities.

In the case of PRSA, the “assets” figure is distorted by failure to defer about $2.2 million in dues income as required by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (ASC 958-605-2-1).

Dues Income Should Be Spread Out

Dues are supposed to be booked over the period to which they refer (12 months in PRSA’s case).

Subtracting $2.2M from 2010 dues of $4,479,744 (the $2.2M should be a liability rather than an asset) leaves about $2.1M or enough to cover four months since 2010 expenses were $10.4M.

The Society has no “reserves.” Whatever cash it has is needed to pay bills. Cash was $1,621,752 at Dec. 31, 2010. Its $3,014,268 in “investments” as of year-end included $962,120 in common stocks at market value.

A dip in the market could slice that figure.

Non-profits do not customarily “play the market” with members’ funds.

The Independent Sector (500 non-profits, mostly c/3s), with $10.1M in revenues in 2010, has $7.1M in investments. They are $5.8M in U.S. Treasury notes; $1.1M in money market funds, and $154,319 in cash. It has no money invested in the stock market.

Both the 2010 audit and IRS Form 990 of the Independent Sector are prominently listed on its website (PDF).

IS preaches that non-profits should report early in the year, post both audit and 990 on their websites in prominent positions, and stop seeking extensions unless absolutely necessary.

PRSA has withheld its 990 from the Assembly in recent years. Postings on GuideStar or Foundation Center 990 Finder are made at the end of the year or early in the following year. Members are only able to examine a PRS 990 if they obtain a printed copy of it.