PR Society COO Bill Murray, commenting on the probe of government PR spending launched by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), has told the Senators that their probe is hampered by a “fundamental problem: Americans’ distrust of their elected leaders, which diminishes legislators’ ability to lead.”

Talk about getting off on the wrong foot! That crack is apt to get anything else from the Society tossed into the wastebasket.

COO Bill Murray
Ironically it comes from an industry not noted for its trustworthiness, although the Murray statement speaks of PR in the most glowing of terms (“the list of positive changes in society resulting from PR goes on and on”).

The Society’s own $150K study of the believability of information sources, published in 1999 after three years of preparation and two years of interviews with 2,000 people, found that “PR specialist” ranked 43rd on a list of 45 sources.

David Carr, New York Times columnist, on Jan. 29 harpooned the industry with the charge that “the modern CEO lives behind a wall of communications operatives, many of whom ladle out slop meant to obscure rather than reveal.”

Those are very hurtful developments that damage the industry and the people in it. They must be faced and the reasons for such developments attacked. The main organization that should be doing that, an organization with $10 million in revenues, is Murray’s.

The reclusive, overpaid ($377K) Murray, who refuses to divulge the terms of his new three-year contract, should have set up a meeting with Carr and heard him out. Murray has yet to appear in person before any New York group in nearly five and a half years as far as we know. He has not addressed the New York chapter, which should have been one of his first outings.

Another miscue he made was impugning the motives of McCaskill, quoting Roll Call as saying she is in a tight race for re-election and may be trying to “distance herself from Obama and the Democratic Party.”

Info Withheld on a Massive Scale

PRS is laced with info-withholding policies and tactics, including refusal to supply the complete list of Assembly delegates except to the delegates themselves; withholding transcripts of the last seven Assemblies; refusal to post the minutes of the 2011 Assembly, and the removal of all but seven names of h.q. staffers.

Reporters are blocked from access to the annual audit and quarterly statements. Teleconferences are in “listen-only” mode. Neither directors nor any staffers will answer 15 questions currently put to them not only by this website but by members, including when will the Society obey FASB rule 958-605-21-1 that calls on dues income to be deferred?

PRS Enforces Press Boycott

A current major stain not only on the Society but all its leaders and members is the boycott that it is enforcing against the O’Dwyer Co. Guards blocked us from all sessions and the exhibit hall at the 2011 conference.

A United Nations worldwide study has pointed out that the chief reason press persecution has reached epidemic proportions worldwide is that governments and professional associations look the other way.

Press and PR groups, with the exception of the National Press Club and PR Watch, ignore PRS’s vendetta against the O’Dwyer Co. because they are feeding at the corporate table.

The New York Financial Writers’ Assn. and the Committee to Protect Journalists have high-priced banquets each year funded by corporate interests.

Our blog on the UN’s quest to publicize lack of interest by governments on press persecution, coupled with details of O’Dwyer access blockage by PRS, has been sent to New York Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the Congresswoman for our New York district.

They should look into this and condemn the Society’s policies.

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights of UNESCO, has made combating the impunity of those who attack the press one of her top priorities. She says this is a “battle” that must be waged with all possible resources.

If the PR Society wanted to serve both the PR industry and the press, this would be a cause that it could take up.

CPJ and other journalist groups highlight the deaths of journalists but ignore carnage of a different sort that is taking place in the U.S. and elsewhere—the withdrawal of financial support of media by business interests.

The free-fall of newspaper ad revenues from $49B in 2006 to $20B in 2011 represents the loss of many thousands of reporter jobs. Newspaper circulation has fallen to its lowest level since 1940. Business could help make up for this loss of revenue by taking site licenses to the websites of the papers.