Anyone who tries to look up and possibly contact the officers and boards of the ten biggest chapters of the PR Society will quickly wonder whether these “leaders” want to be contacted at all.

New York and Chicago are the only chapters among the ten that provide the names of their volunteer leaders accompanied by employers, phone numbers and e-mails (spelled out fully and not needing to be clicked on).

New York lists 40 volunteer leaders (PDF) and Chicago, 23.

A common practice is for chapter websites to provide names and phone numbers of leaders only, leaving visitors to guess whether they are dealing with a solo practitioner or someone with a big job at a major company.

The only way to contact an entire such board is to click on every one of the often 15 or more names and jot down the e-mail addresses. None of the boards is reachable via a blast e-mail.

The stingy contact information is provided by working PR people who expect and receive full contact information about the editors with whom they deal. Numerous services not only provide such data but their records for using PR materials, editorial likes and dislikes, and personal information. The editors and their media freely provide such information.

No Phones for Ethics Heads

Wilson, Porter
Wilson, Porter
The Philadelphia chapter lists e-mails for its officers and board and phone members with one exception -- Molly Wilson, immediate past president and ethics head who is a senior A/S at Tonic Life Communications, a Huntsworth Health Company. Only her e-mail is listed.

There is also no phone number for Minnesota chapter ethics officer Michael Porter, adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Since this is “Ethics Month” at PRS, we have numerous PRS ethical abuses we would like to discuss on the phone with Wilson and Porter, including the threat by an Assembly delegate to beat us “to a pulp” and the theft of a day’s notes at the 2003 Assembly when our back was turned.

If past experience with chapter leaders is a guide, neither will ever talk to us on the phone.

What we’re likely to get is e-mails from them with the nonsensical advice to take up these abuses with national although it is national that blocked our access to the 2011 Assembly, exhibit hall and all events; national that shows no sign of giving us “credentials” for the 2012 conference; national that sold more than 50,000 copies of O’Dwyer articles, and that refuses to carry our rebuttals to 23 pages of charges against us.

Telling us to “go to national” is like telling a home owner who has been robbed to contact the thief about the stolen property.

We challenge Wilson and Porter to tell us what could possibly be ethical about members not having access to the national list of delegates; the list being compiled as of mid-August each year instead of the previous Dec. 1 as called for in the old bylaws; press being barred from the Assembly in 2011 for the first time in PRS’s history, and the numerous violations of Robert’s Rules and common sense that went on at the 2009 Assembly which used 56 proxy votes to vote in the use of proxies.

PRS Abuses Compiled into Directory

The above only scratches the surface of PRS ethical offenses which have now been compiled into O’Dwyer’s Directory of PR Society Abuses.

More than a dozen documented instances of undemocratic practices, information blocking, and press-boycotting are in the directory with many more to be added.

The database is overwhelming, we admit. It has grown to gargantuan size because each chair who comes in for the year’s term only wants to leave his or her mark and not clean up any messes left by previous chairs. So decades of dysfunctional and unethical policies and practices, topped by the 18% of members who are APR making all the decisions since the mid-1970s, have piled up.

The history of PRS is that it was caught red-handed in 1993 selling tens of thousands of copies of authors’ works without their permission. Rather than make amends with the authors, it challenged them to take the case to court. Lawyers for a dozen authors who organized said costs would be in the hundreds of thousands and the case could drag on for years.
PRS has continued to take the legal approach, spending $528,423 on Venable and other law firms from 2005-2010 (2011 spending is being withheld). Spending on ethics was $1,406 in 2011 and $2,649 in 2010. No staff time was spent on ethics in either year.

APR Has Little Traction in New York

New York, with 650+ chapter members among more than 800 national members in its area, is the biggest chapter in a single city. Less than 50 of its members are APR. National Capital, with nearly 1,500 members in its area and 1,150 chapter members, is bigger but its territory includes D.C. as well as parts of Northern Virginia and Maryland. No. 2 Georgia, with nearly 900 members, includes the entire state.

Among the stingiest with information is NC where the eight officers provide only their names, chapter titles and phone numbers. Phones and e-mails are provided for the 11 directors but again, no employers or titles.

President of NC is Suzanne Holroyd, Ph.D., APR+M, director of communications, Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Dept. She has said her board refuses to take action on this. However, she can act on her own without board approval. She has not given up the right of free speech. Since the O’Dwyer Co. is paying part of her salary, she should lecture national about the sanctity of press freedom and make a public statement.

Also tight with info is Georgia where chapter titles and employers are given but no phones or e-mails (not even click-throughs). President is Julie Davis, Georgia-Pacific Corp.

Colorado, sixth biggest chapter with more than 500 members, provides names and titles of officers and directors, phone numbers and e-mails if you click on the names.

Detroit, seventh biggest chapter with more than 500 members, provides the names and chapter titles but no employers. Information seekers have to click on each of the 16 names to get the e-mail addresses.

Minnesota, eighth biggest with 400+ members, provides place of employment and e-mails (if you click on the name) but no phone numbers.

Philadelphia, headed by Blair Cardinal, provides e-mails spelled out as well as phone numbers and detailed bios of its officers and directors.

Chicago, headed by Debbie Harvey, SVP at Golin Harris, provides employers and titles, phone numbers, e-mails spelled out and extensive bios.

Houston, headed by Ed Davis of Fifth Ring PR, provides phone numbers and e-mails (if you click on their names) of its 14 directors and five Assembly delegates.

Board Listings Show Stranglehold of APRs

Accredited members, although only 18% of PRS’s 21,000-member total, dominate most of the boards of the top ten and are especially dominant in the Assembly delegations which is the reason for the repeated failure of attempts to win the right of non-APRs to run for national office.

Worst offender is National Capital where 12 of the 14 delegates are APR when only two should be. Eleven of the 19 directors are APR.

Georgia is also a hotbed of APR with seven of their ten delegates being APR and the board having eight APRs among its 14 members.

The red hot chapter for APR is Minnesota where all 12 of the officers and board members are APR (no doubt a requirement). It does not list Assembly delegates but all four will be APR.

Houston only has three APRs on a board of 14 but all five of its delegates are APR.

A similar case of few APRs on the board but the Assembly delegation being in the hands of APR is Philadelphia, where only one of the ten officers/directors is APR but three of the four delegates are APR.

Only one of the nine delegates of the New York chapter is APR. There are four APRs on the 17-member board.

Los Angeles, fourth biggest chapter, only has three APRs among its 18 officers/directors but three of its six delegates will be APR.

Colorado, sixth biggest with 500+ members, has four APRs on its board of 11 but three of its five delegates will be APR.