Co-chairs of the 2012 PR Society conference in San Francisco Oct. 13-16 are CEOs of two of the biggest PR firms -- Jack Martin of H+K Strategies and Rob Flaherty of Ketchum.

However, neither has any sway with the staff of PRS, which continues its policy of blocking press coverage of the Assembly and which continues to block O’Dwyer coverage of the conference.

This reporter will cover the conference despite Third World efforts to impede coverage, such as stationing guards at the doors to events. Sources will be lined up to cover the Assembly.

Martin, Flaherty
Martin, Flaherty
E-mails and phone calls to Martin and Flaherty asking whether they have any control over PRS staff press policies have been ignored, which is par for the course. Past conference chairs have either said they have no control over PRS press policies or don’t respond to e-mails or phone calls.

Martin, global chairman and CEO of H+K, joined the firm in 2006 when Public Strategies of Austin, which he founded, was acquired by H+K’s parent, WPP.

Flaherty, senior partner and president of Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom, was named CEO June 26.

Justice Pursues O’Dwyer Complaint

A spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Dept. said this week that it continues to pursue the complaint of this reporter that PRS broke the law last year by blocking our entrance to all conference events, including the exhibit hall where about half of the 48 exhibitors were O’Dwyer advertisers.

Lawyers for the National Assn. of the Deaf said that handicapped as well as non-handicapped people must be given equal rights in public places, which includes hotels. The Marriott Grandes Lakes in Orlando was the site of the 2011 conference.

“The PR Society cannot admit some reporters and bar others or try to charge some reporters registration fees,” said a lawyer for the NAD. Equal treatment must be given to all, the lawyer said.

Reporters for PR News and PR Newser were given press passes, while they were denied to any O’Dwyer staffers.

NAD lawyers also said PRS violated ADA.28 C.F.R. #36.206 of the Americans with Disabilities Act by “retaliating” against this reporter after I sought assistive hearing devices.

Complaints can be lodged with Justice without the assistance of a lawyer. Justice said this week that the case remains open until a letter is sent to the O’Dwyer office.

An ironic note is that the 2012 conference is again at another Marriott -- the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

The head of PR at Marriott is Kathleen Matthews, wife of Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and for many years a Washington, D.C., reporter. E-mails by this reporter to both Kathleen and Chris are ignored. Marriott PR staff have taken the position that they have no control over those who rent its facilities.

Cegielski Should Investigate This

Charges that PRS is breaking the law should be investigated by Stephanie Cegielski, a 2006 graduate of the University of Denver Law School who joined PRS in June as associate director of PR.

No announcement of this ever appeared on the PRS website because it might be the final straw with some leading members.

Why is COO Bill Murray hiring a law school grad when there are so many PR and communications grads looking for work?!

Cegielski’s bio does not indicate that she has passed any state law exam. She has not returned a phone call or e-mail to her.

She was a controversial figure in Colorado where the organization she headed, the Colorado Government Accountability Project, accused Democratic Senator Majority Leader John Morse of cheating on his expense account by billing the state $99 for 206 of 239 off-session days. The charges were dismissed by an ethics committee which said the complaint failed to cite what specific law had been broken. said the CGAP failed to “leave a mark on Senator Morse despite the most furiously inept media-shopping of a purported scandal we’ve seen in a long time.”

Cegielski posted a lengthy response to criticisms of her in the Colorado Statesman, saying her work experience had been mis-stated and that she stood by her decision to “hold those who were elected accountable.”

She noted she held Colorado Dept. of State jobs under three administrations, both Democratic and Republican, as well as jobs for Attorney General John Suthers and former Governor Bill Owens. Before her work in the public sector she spent eight years in the private sector, much of that time working with corporate bankruptcies and corporate liquidations.

There was a time when PRS announced its new staffers. A stealth member of the PR staff is a new low.

Up until three years ago, the names and contact points of all 50+ staffers were on the website. Seven top staffers are listed in the main part of the PRS website and four contacts are listed in the media dept.