A 954-word attack on this writer by VP-PR Arthur Yann in the PRSAY blog says that “much” of what we write is “biased and misleading, if not outright lies.”
John Lonsdorf of R&J PR, Bridgewater, N.J., says some points of O’Dwyer “have merit” including the Society’s “lack of transparency, the APR issue, and its invisibility in representing the profession on the national stage, to name some of them.”
Debra Bethard-Caplick, president, Suburban Chicago chapter, posted 955 words including the charge that, “Not only is he (O’Dwyer) unethical, often he doesn’t even get his fact straight—nor does he seem to want to.”
She denies that the Society has a four-page legal agreement that it asks participants in its e-groups to sign. Yann should send her a copy.
Yann should also stop saying that the Society of Professional Journalists has asked us to resign because of ethical concerns. SPJ doesn’t want to be involved in what it calls the “situation” between the Society and the O’Dwyer Co. It has made no judgment of the behavior of the O’Dwyer Co. or Jack O’Dwyer.
Thankfully, the National Press Club does want to be involved. It reviewed the 23-pages of complaints against this writer, talking to us and Yann at length, and decided the Society had no grounds for blocking coverage.
Even more, it sent a release on its decision to 390 leading media via PR Newswire.
The release below has been posted to the PRSAY section and is undergoing “moderation.” As of noon 10/28, the response had not been accepted.
Added 10/28 @ 12:32 p.m.: Yann responded at 12:16 p.m. that the attempted O’Dwyer posting was “not in keeping with commonly held blog etiquette or best practice” and would not be used. He also said it was “not a comment regarding the content of our (Yann's) blog post” and suggested we revise it and resubmit it in “abbreviated form.” He made no mention of when IRS Form 990 would be made available.
Added 10/28 @ 2:13 p..m.:We sent this revised response, which was posted:
Hello Arthur: As per your suggestion, I am shortening a previous e-mail to you and keeping closely to what was in your blog. This new posting is half the size of my previous one.
You asked at the end of your blog why don’t I “move on” as Tonya Garcia has suggested, to a topic other than seeking payment for O’Dwyer articles that were sold by the Society without my permission.
I feel the Society made a lot of money selling the articles from 1980 (and even a couple of years before that) to 1994 when I exposed the practice of selling authors’ articles without their permission.
All such articles were immediately removed and the Society joined the Copyright Clearance Center. The CCC does not allow “anthologizing” or selling groups of articles because this creates a “new work.” Since the Society could only sell individual articles and at a considerable price, the entire info-pack service was quickly closed.
Many of the articles sold by the Society were for “professional development,” meaning they helped you to do your job better. This aggravated the offense.
A dozen authors, including three college professors, hired a law firm. Advice was that it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue our claims and the Society would no doubt launch a countersuit. None of the publishers would support the individual authors, apparently not wanting to go into battle vs. the Society.
Statue of Limitations Ran Out
The legal statute of limitations ran out in 1998 but not the ethical and moral one. Representatives of the Society should come to our office and look at the boxful of copied articles and start some form of restitution. It could give free ads, for instance, for the books of the three college professors that were copied. They are still alive.
The Society should address this matter. Otherwise, people can ask how it can be the ethical leader of the PR industry worldwide with this on its record?
I believe this directly addresses the question you raised in your posting.
Isn’t the Society criticizing its own self when it criticizes me since it copied O’Dwyer articles for at least 14 years and most of those articles were authored by me? It didn’t find anything wrong with me or my articles then. If I was so bad, why did the Society deal with me at all?
The Society and I “battled” all through the 1980s and 1990s but it did not resort to draconian policies. PR director Donna Peltier was only allowed to go to lunch with me three times from 1982-92 and each time COO Betsy Kovacs was present.
I could give you a large list of negative stories about the Society from the 1980s and 1990s including the Silver Anvil controversy (hundreds of entries were rejected for minor violations) and the resignation of 1986 president Tony Franco after SEC charges were filed against him. I also publicized many Society programs.
The O’Dwyer website has hosted thousands of words of Yann and other members of his dept. as well as those of elected leaders and members of the Society. PRS rarely posts responses from the O’Dwyer Co.
We’re hopeful that this policy will change and we will get “equal time.” The release below is only 743 words.
For Immediate release, Friday, Oct. 27, 2011, from O’Dwyer Co.
PRSA boycott of O'Dwyer reporters ignites storm of criticism by media and bloggers
Contact Jack O’Dwyer a [email protected] or 631/288-0850; contacts at PRSA and National Press Club are below.
PR Society of America, in publicizing a formal written press ban against any employee or even freelancer for the O’Dwyer Co. covering the PRSA annual conference in Florida Oct. 15-18, has touched off a storm of criticism led by the National Press Club which dismissed PRSA’s rationale for the ban.
Besides criticism from NPC and PR Watch, PRSA has been hit hard by independent bloggers who called the boycott of O’Dwyer’s “shameful,” “an embarrassment,” “childish,” a “violation of freedom of speech,” “totally unprofessional,” and “dumb-as-dirt PR.”
The savaging of the PRSA boycott by independent bloggers who have nothing to fear from PRSA shows the power of social media.
The National Press Club expressed "disappointment" with the ban and urged the Society to lift it. NPC president Mark Hamrick and NPC executive director Bill McCarren were sent a list of PRSA complaints against O'Dwyer coverage of the Society and complaints about Jack O’Dwyer’s efforts at obtaining information about the Society.
They considered the complaints carefully as well as O'Dwyer's rebuttals and decided that whatever PRSA's complaints were, they were insufficient to bar the O'Dwyer Co. NPC said O’Dwyer reporters should have been admitted to all events as long as they did not disrupt the events. McCarren said NPC is "concerned" that PRSA's 21,000 members are getting the message that the way to deal with criticial reporters is to ban them. NPC did not stop there. It sent a press release announcing its criticism of PRSA to 390 national and international media based in Washington, D.C. The O’Dwyer Co. has also distributed its own press release on this matter widely. http://www.odwyerpr.com/blog/index.php?/archives/3436-NPC-Disappointed-in-PRSA-ODwyer-Ban.html
PR Watch, (www.prwatch.org), which normally monitors federal and state government behavior, on Oct. 10, 2011, criticized PRSA for banning O'Dwyer's admittance to the conference. PR Watch called it a "shameful and petty way for the Society to deal with his critiques" and said it was a "violation of freedom of the press." It said PRSA's actions mirror those of the PR industry which is trending towards "more secrecy."
Individual bloggers were unreserved in their criticisms of the Society.
Lucy Siegel, CEO of Bridge Global Strategies, New York, a 22-year member of PRSA and former New York chapter officer, wrote, "I'm embarrassed at the totally unprofessional, unethical and childish behavior this week of the so-called leaders of my profession, the board and staff of PRSA," in banning the O'Dwyer co.
Newroom Ink, operated by former PRSA Austin chapter board member Ed Lallo, posted a blog headlined, "PRSA's Reputation Crumbles--Faces Crisis of Integrity."
NI said that "By banning O'Dwyer, PRSA has lost credibility as an organization that can effectively speak for its members." It added that the Society has "failed to place trust in its own 'best practices'" that advise organizations to face critics.
Newsroom Ink quoted Perry Bishop, Associate Prof. of PR, University of Maryland Graduate School of Management & Technology, as saying that PRSA's action vs. O'Dwyer's "sets no professional example for current or future members." He added that "by extension it brings 'embarrassment' to the entire profession regardless of membership in any professional organization."
Tonya Garcia, writer for PR Newser of Mediabistro, in an item headlined, "Bad PR," said "Reporters should be given access even if they will be critical or reveal truths that subjects aren't too pleased with.”
Blogger Jane Genova, who has authored and co-authored numerous PR books and articles, said that PRSA, instead of taking the "high road" in replying to O'Dwyer's reporting and criticisms, resorted to "dumb-as-dirt PR." She advised a "mea culpa" for PRSA.
Blogger Ruth Thaler-Carter, said that barring O'Dwyer staffers from the PRSA conference was "not appropriate in terms of freedom of the press." She said that Jack O'Dwyer "has always tried to educate PR pros on the importance of interacting with journalists honestly and with integrety." Thaler-Carter e-mailed her thoughts to officers and staff at both the Society of Professional Journalists and PRSA.
Contacts at PRSA are chair Rosanna Fiske, [email protected], 305/919-4578; VP-PR Arthur Yann at 212/460-1452, [email protected]; COO William Murray at [email protected], 212/460-1401; Mickey-Nall, 2012 chair-elect at [email protected], 404/881-1401, and 2012
Chair Gerard Corbett (California) at [email protected] National Press Club contact is Exec. VP Bill McCarren at 202/662-7500, [email protected]