O'Dwyer's Witchhunt - devriesblog.comWikipedia, vastly expanding its previous 290-word entry on the PR Society, has posted 4,697 words on it (http://tinyurl.com /9llbpuo) as of press time including 406 on PRS vs. O’Dwyer and 82 references.

WP editor “Corporate Minion” describes the entry as a “work in progress” and has been changing it on a daily basis. The initial article accessed Oct. 28 had 4,185 words and 53 references.

WP is making an effort at objectivity but it’s obviously under heavy influence by PRS.

--How else to explain that this writer is depicted as a male witch (warlock) burning PRS at the stake?

While the initial entry had 695 words on the “contentious relationship” with this writer, the total had been cut to 405 as of today.

--I am also accused of having a “dispute” with PRS because I caught it selling tens of thousands of copies of O’Dwyer articles without our permission. (http://bit.ly/zdcrgc)

--The article falsely says I “sued for copyright infringement and lost” when no such suit was launched. This writer and a dozen other ripped-off authors hired a law firm but were warned about huge costs. None of the publishers (Prentice-Hall, Longman, Crain’s, Wiley, etc.) would lift a finger for their writers. WP falsely says PRS started charging for the infopack service in 1994 although 1994 president Joe Vecchione had said that year that the service was “an 18-year-old practice.” Volume had grown to 3,800 packets yearly and $60K profits.

--WP says members who violate the ethics code “can have their membership revoked” although PRS got out of enforcement in 1999. Only members who have been convicted in a court of law or by a government agency can be disciplined.

Four Negatives Hit PRS in 1999

PRS declared its first formal boycott of the O’Dwyer Co. in 1999 after it was hit with four negative news stories it didn’t want to talk about. The old code with its judicial panels was ditched when a member accused the board of breaking five Code articles in boycotting the O’Dwyer Co. and asked for a hearing before one of the panels.

A five-year PRS study completed in 1999 found “PR specialist” to rank 43rd in credibility on a list of 45 information sources; a two-year PRS Fellows study found APR to be just about worthless in the job market; treasurer Lee Duffey’s firm was hit with charges of using front groups to attack the EIFS form of construction, and an O’Dwyer ten-year study of PRS financial reports found that the deferred dues account had been drained from $900K to $150K to boost net assets.

The Society had to take a $1.1M bath in 2000-2001 to cleanse the books. It was unable to publish the 2000 members’ directory.

Many Topics, Lightly Touched

Numerous topics are lightly touched upon including (at our suggestion) the FTC consent decree that PRS was forced to sign in 1977.

PRS was publicly rapped on its knuckles for interfering for decades with the free market by making it “unethical” for members to pitch each others’ accounts (although non-member accounts could be pitched) and by forbidding contingency fees.

The landmark case gets one sentence in the WP posting. Among other things, the case illustrated PRS’s stubbornness. FTC staffers visited PRS in the fall of 1976 and asked it to remove the offending articles. Not only did leaders refuse, but so did the Assembly. The result was a formal FTC order.

A full O’Dwyer story on this including the complete FTC decision was e-mailed to the WP editor handling the PRS essay. (http://tinyurl.com/8pv46kf)

However, under WP’s rules, I am “directly involved” in this issue and so cannot be quoted. WP says it would look for “uninvolved sources” such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, AdAge and PR Week. I don’t think any are “uninvolved,” particularly PR Week.

Rotbart Lawsuit Mentioned

Another story lightly touched upon is the $21 million lawsuit that publisher Dean Rotbart filed against this writer and the O’Dwyer Co. in 1994 after I covered a speech he made at the 1993 annual conference in Orlando.

WP falsely says I “published a transcript of the presentation, leading to a lawsuit for copyright infringement.” No such transcript was published. Fewer than 800 words were quoted as advised by lawyers. Rotbart accused me of inaccurate, defamatory coverage of the speech which included negative comments about the financial press in general and individual reporters.

He correctly told the audience that ads and news tips influence news coverage. But neither he nor anyone present pointed out that any influence in placing stories except news value is unethical.

The suit was an attempt to cripple or destroy the O’Dwyer Co. and could only have been launched with the cooperation of PRS.

PRS used two cameras to videotape the hour and 40-minute presentation for sale in its video library. PRS staffer Ellen Gerber and Rotbart signed an agreement saying PRS “may edit, reproduce, present and copyright this material in any way without additional consent or payment from me” (Rotbart).

PRS/Rotbart Agreement

PRS/Rotbart Letter

When this writer, a PRS-credentialed reporter, got sued for allegedly inaccurate, malicious reporting of the speech, truth and fairness-loving PRS should have started selling the videotape so everyone could check on our coverage. It could also have transferred its copyright to this writer and I would have printed the entire speech. The court found no major inaccuracies in my coverage, Judge Thomas Martin calling me a “good reporter.” The videotape was never offered for sale. The New York Times used my coverage of the speech but never mentioned the lawsuit nor our victory in court. (http://tinyurl.com/7oxsqur)

National Press Club: Two Sentences

The National Press Club’s plea to PRS to stop blocking Jack O’Dwyer’s coverage of its conference gets two sentences, noting such blockage took place in 2011 and 2012 and that NPC made “an attempt to negotiate his entrance.”

The Society, “rebutted, calling his behavior ‘unethical’ and published a 23-page document of their complaints.”

However, there is no link to the NPC statement that it sent to 290 major media (http://bit.ly/p0jJuj) nor the 23-page document (http://bit.ly/yc2LVT) that PRS distributed on its website and elsewhere.

Such documents are needed if readers are to have a full understanding of what’s going on here.

Silver Anvils Are Praised

The Silver Anvils awards program is called “the most prestigious in the industry.”

There’s a lot of influence by PRS in this essay as indicated by all the talk about its devotion to ethics. Members are supposed to “serve the public interest, demonstrate high standards of honesty, integrity and accuracy” and deal “fairly” with clients, employers and the media.

WP says the Society “spoke up against the actions of the Redner Group in 2011 when the PR firm threatened to blacklist media that gave Duke Nukem negative reviews.”

What hypocrisy! PRS has blackballed the O’Dwyer Co. for years although it has yet to find a single inaccuracy in anything we have reported about it. PRS labels as “criticism” our reports of its abusive behavior such as killing the printed members’ directory without clearing it with the Assembly and moving h.q. downtown for 15 years with no input from the Assembly.

The WP entry needs a section on the “Committee for a Democratic PRS” (http://bit.ly/aBqrux) which obtained 450 signatures on a futile petition in 2010 aimed at letting non-accredited members run for national office for the first time since the 1970s.

WP’s essay does not note that only APRs can hold office nor does it note that prospective members will be ineligible for national office until they become APR. It should also note that participation in the APR program has markedly declined in recent years, to an average of 136 new PRS APRs yearly in the past nine years from 274 new PRS APRs in the previous ten years. (http://tinyurl.com/9hskndr)

APR is said to “require five to seven years of experience and completion of written and oral examinations.”

There is no on-the-spot writing at any stage of the exam process although there once was. No specific years of experience are required for those seeking an APR.

Burning at Stake from DeVries

The drawing of this writer burning PRS at the stake was taken from the blog of Derek DeVries, West Michigan chapter delegate who led and videotaped (http://tinyurl.com/cgthwpa) the “flash mob” attack on this writer at the 2010 Assembly.

About 20 delegates starting handing me hotel pens to signify that I were as nutty as Princeton professor John Nash who was portrayed by Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind.” Instructions “tweeted” and e-mailed to others at the conference were to give me their hotel pens if they saw me in the hallways.

O'Dwyer's Conspiracy Theory - devriesblog.com

DeVries later said the flash mob was not sanctioned by PRS but was just a “bunch of goofballs” having some fun.

DeVries at the 2011 conference sneaked up in back of me while I was sitting outside of the exhibit hall and took video of the top of my head. He left without saying hello. His website is called “Imprudent loquaciousness.” (http://tinyurl.com/7jf3j9u)

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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