By Jack O'Dwyer
Bulldog Reporter posted a 2,351-word interview with 2013 PRSA chair Mickey Nall in which the Society’s financial reporting was mentioned.
Bulldog then posted a response by us in which we noted that the current membership total is 21,192 and not the 22,000+ claimed by Nall.
That is a minor and understandable error but what touched off our response is the claim by Nall that we keep asking the same questions. That is because they are not being answered.
Bulldog asks at the end of the interview how Nall will deal with the trade press and implies that I am a big bore by asking the same questions over and over. The reference to me seems obvious since only I keep hammering away at certain topics. It is PRSA that refuses to give the answers to me or members and keeps reporting its finances in a misleading way (booking dues as cash). This is against Financial Accounting Standards Board's rules but FASB does not enforce anything. It leaves that up to CPAs.
PRSA drew down the deferred dues account from $904,767 in 1991 to $169,530 in 1995 to falsely inflate its net assets figure. Steve Pisinski, 2000 chair, ordered Deloitte & Touche to again start deferring substantial amounts of the dues revenue and it went to $813,116 in 2000. It should be about half of dues income, a practice followed by the major professional associations.
The 2012 nine-months report of PRSA showed DD of a pitiful $294,210 (representing advance income to fund Strategist and Tactics). It should be $2.2M or about half of dues of $4,327,579. This is no minor matter but speaks to the basic honesty and truthfulness of PRSA. Booking dues correctly cuts the claimed net assets of PRSA from $3,372,327 to about $1.1M. A highly questionable item in the financial statement is $517,230 in “accrued rent.” CPAs laugh at this. PRSA has $517,230 in cash because it simply did not pay the first year’s rent at 33 Maiden Lane. But it will have to someday. Pisinski was the last democratic, forward-looking head of PRSA since his 1999 strategic planning committee unanimously recommended removal of any references to APR throughout the bylaws.
So PRSA has second tier CPAs (no more major firms like Deloitte Touche or Ernst & Young) that let PRSA get away with this. PRSA is very stubborn, that is what is going on. The APRs have had exclusive access to the board and national offices since the 1970s, even though only 18% of the membership is APR now and the number taking the test gets smaller and smaller.
Someone is very stubborn here and it's not me. I notice Bulldog did not ask about PRSA's finances, the nine-month report showing a loss of $357,498 despite the dues increase. The 73% renewal rate mentioned by Mickey means 5,886 members did not renew of the 21,800 members they had been claiming.
Asked about the trade press, Nall says there is "a point in any communications narrative where you choose to give truthful, detailed answers...and they either have to be accepted or you [I guess he means me] have to quit asking the same question over and over again.
"If you're not getting the answer you want, then you're not being a journalist. A journalist is an objective reporter of what is truly news. If you want to be a storyteller or novelist, then go do that someplace else. That is my personal opinion on behalf of PRSA. Ultimately, PRSA deals fairly and objectively with anyone seeking information from us and we always have. That's not going to change."
Some of the above does not even make sense. I do not think I have been treated fairly by PRSA. It clings to numerous wrongful practices such as prospects not told that APR is needed to hold national office; dues are booked as cash instead of deferring the income; no report at all this year about the un-conference Assembly; journalists barred from seeing PRS finances; no Assembly transcripts since 2005; no lists of Assembly delegates except for the delegates themselves, etc., etc.
Was it fair for Marriott guards to walk me out of the hotel in lockstep and tell me not to come back? Was it fair to bar not only me but all reporters from the 2011 and 2012 Assemblies?
There is no report at all of the 2012 Assembly except the report by seniors who say it was the "most useless ever."
Also, anyone who gets the mailing list can look up the e-mails, twitters, LinkedIns, phones, etc.