Edition, September 27, 2000, Page 1
`NO. 1 IN PR' CLAIM IS DISPUTED
Interpublic claimed last week that its new Weber Shandwick
unit is the biggest PR firm in the world with $300M+ in
However, the claim was disputed by the current biggest firm,
Burson-Marsteller, and the biggest independent PR firm,
Edelman PR Worldwide.
Counselors at other firms referred to WS as "a collection
of agencies" and a "network" rather than
what is ordinarily thought of as a "firm."
Comparing WS and B-M is like comparing "apples and
oranges," said Harold Burson, founder of B-M. He said
B-M remains the single biggest PR brand, having a common
Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, said he would question
whether "putting companies together makes an agency?"
He noted his firm also has "one culture and one name
Howard Paster, CEO of Hill and Knowlton, said that merging
two companies does not automatically make one company.
takes a period of time for a merger to work," he said.
Robert Feldman, CEO of GCI Group, noted there is now one
less firm in the "top ten," making it a little
easier for the other nine to compete.
Gerald S. Schwartz, president of G.S. Schwartz & Co.,
45-person New York firm, said "WS is a fine collection
of agencies, but are they a business? It's not the way I
view an agency."
Shandwick Was Conglomerate
Other counselors noted that Shandwick itself is a collection
of about 35 PR firms acquired between 1986 and the early
1990s, when its stock sank to 2.75 pence on the London Stock
Shandwick had promised to keep the names, cultures, and
management of its acquisitions, saying that was their strength.
Almost all of the names were dropped and most of the former
New York counselor Robert Dilenschneider said the best way
for a firm to grow is organically because staffers get to
know each other over the years.
Michael Bruneau of The Lund Group, New York, said the big
firms are getting all the attention but clients should also
look at small firms where the principals will be available
to clients. At big firms, he said, the account is quickly
handed off to juniors.
Interpublic Group of Cos. stock hit a 52-week low last week
of $33.12, down $25 from its high of $58 last December.
& Co. has been acquired by Margeotes/ Fertitta +
Partners, a New York ad agency that is a subsidiary of Maxxcom,
Toronto...Sally Susman, VP/worldwide corp. affairs
and comms. at American Express, is joining Estee Lauder
Cos. on Nov. 1 as SVP, global comm. replacing Mary Linder...Ernie
Sando, who had headed Georgeson & Co.'s IR prac-tice,
joined Hill and Knowlton as U.S. director, fin'l
comms...Elizabeth Board, VP/global comms. for AC-Nielsen,
now has that title at Reader's Digest.
POSTPONES BLUE BOOK, STRATEGIST
PRSA, admitting to a financial bind after years of rosy
statements, is delaying publication of its di-rectory of
members and the winter edition of its Strategist magazine
until the first quarter of 2001.
Treasurer Joann Killeen said these and other steps are needed
"to manage the current financial situation." This
year's loss on accreditation is being cut from $475,075
to $359,435 and there is a freeze on staff hiring and curbs
on staff/board traveling.
Members expressed shock at postponement of the Blue Book,
saying PRSA has never skipped an entire year without publishing
a members' directory. For many, it is the chief benefit
of membership. It lists the phones, e-mails, addresses,
etc., of 20,000 members individually, geographically and
by organization. It also has services, committees, ethics
Only 5%-10% of the members attend the national conference
but all get the directory ($100 retail). There appears to
be a minor revolt against the $25 dues hike started in 2000
(part of a $50 overall hike), with collections only totaling
$3.2M as of June 30, or $656,295 below the expected $3.85M.
On top of this, there was "miscommunication between
staff and the board," Killeen told the members via
the PRSA website. Officers learned that as of June 30 "we
were under budget on revenues and over budget on expenses."
Killeen, Stevens in Fierce Battle
A fierce battle for chair-elect has developed between official
candidate Art Stevens and Killeen.
She is being backed by 41 members including nine of the
17 board members and five of the ten district heads. Stevens
blasted the directors for being "partisan" and
for over-ruling the nominating committee.
He called on the nine to resign and chal-lenged Killeen
to an immediate debate.
on page 7)
Edition, September 27, 2000, Page 2
WORD OUT FAST IN CRISIS
"Communication, not legal obfuscation" is needed
in crisis situations, such as the current Bridgestone/Firestone
tire recall, according to a joint statement released by
Stephen Pisinski, PRSA chair, and Charles Pizzo, IABC chair.
Companies in crisis must communicate "openly, accurately
and in a timely fashion," said the duo after leading
a "Meeting of the Minds" session at a Ragan Comms.
conference held last week in Chicago.
Pisinski and Pizzo feel the public's right to information
regarding safety is paramount.
"In an environment that is becoming increasingly transparent,
corporations and institutions have an ethical responsibility
to communicate the information the public needs to make
informed decisions regarding the products it purchases,"
The pair applauded B/F, which recently hired Ketchum for
PR, for now getting essential information out to the public.
They feel B/F's initial slow response to the crisis may
have hurt its reputation more than it should have.
WIRE ENDS MEDIA PERK
Business Wire said Sept. 19. it would end the 15-minute
advance it offers news media before making information available
to the general public.
PR Newswire has no plans to follow suit. Renu Aldrich, PRN's
spokesperson, said: "We are reviewing our policy."
BW said the popularity of the Internet, coupled with recent
regulatory changes, prompted the move to provide real time
news across all media platforms.
WANTS TO BAN ADS IN SCHOOLS
The Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, based in
Oakland, Calif., has issued a sample school policy on commercialism
that would prohibit publicly funded institutions from promoting
brand name products to their students.
The sample policy was issued by the group after the release
of a report by the Government Accounting Office on the large
amount of advertising in schools across the U.S., and its
conclusion that most districts are lacking adequate policies
to deal with the problem.
The CCFPE's policy is based on already existing school board
policies. One of these policies-the Commercial Free Schools
Act passed in 1999 by the San Francisco Unified School District-has
already stood up to a challenge from a proposed exclusive
contract with Pepsi.
Andrew Hagelshaw, who heads the CCFPE, said policies can
prevent school districts from "falling down the slippery
slope of commercialism."
"Once a district allows one brand name advertiser,
it often ends up allowing another, and on and on until the
community has lost control over who is really teaching their
kids. A school board policy allows a district to put its
foot down and draw the line," he said.
Among the items the GAO found in schools were Channel One
(the TV news show that contains ads), ZapMe (the computer
version of Channel One), exclusive soda vending contracts
with Coke and Pepsi, and curriculum advertising.
For example, a mathematics textbook, published by McGraw-Hill
(1999), uses products such as Nike shoes, M&M candies
and Kellogg's cereal in math problems.
New York City's board of education is considering a proposal
to provide portable computers in most of its schools as
well as Internet access over a new website that would include
The use of advertising to pay for a new technology initiative
was intensely criticized by parents, legislators and educators
in April when a school board task force first outlined its
recommendations to build a revenue-generating computer network
in partnership with private industry, a proposal that was
unanimously approved by the board.
the plan proposed by Andersen Consulting - which may be
the first of its kind by a public school system in the U.S.
- laptop computers would be distributed to all 750,000 students
in grades 4 to 12.
As originally recommended, students would be able to click
on commercial logos on the school website to buy products.
Proceeds from part of each sale would go to the board.
PUBLICIS WANTS TO BE BEST, NOT BIGGEST
The goal of Publicis is to be the best-not necessarily the
biggest--communications company, CEO Maurice Levy told a
press briefing Sept. 21 at the Peninsula Hotel in New York.
When asked for his reaction to Weber Shandwick's boast that
it is the No. 1 PR firm, Levy responded: "I don't care."
Levy said any firm that claims to be No. 1 "must deliver
the services"-or else it will quickly be knocked from
the top spot.
France's Publicis, following its Saatchi & Saatchi acquisition,
is the world's No. 5 communications company in fees.
Levy was in New York to ring the opening bell on the New
York Stock Exchange Sept. 22. Publicis stock started trading
on the Big Board Sept. 12 under the symbol of PUB.
Levy said his firm expects to line up a number of acquisitions
to bolster its presence in this country and Japan. The company
refers to 2000 as its "American year," said the
Publicis uses Kekst and Co. for merger and acquisition work.
Levy's current priority is to wrap up negotiations with
Cordiant Communications Group to set up a joint media buying
He expects that deal will be in place by the end of the
year. Publicis management meets on a regular basis with
"The press is invited to our analyst meetings,"
Edition, September 27, 2000, Page 3
TAKES OVER AS EDITOR OF YM
Annemarie Iverson, who took over the editorial
reins of YM last week, plans to expand the teenage
magazine's coverage of beauty and fashion.
Iverson, a former beauty and fashion news direc-tor
of Harper's Bazaar, who had previously worked
at Seventeen, said the new thrust of YM's expanded
coverage will be on affordable items, American
brands and designers.
She also plans to rechart the map of the maga-zine
with the subject headings: "Boys," "Beauty,"
"Stars," "Style" and "Planet YM."
The back page
will carry the heading "YM Spy," which is a person-ality
page. Iverson's first complete issue will be the
February 2001 number.
She said celebrity covers will continue because
they help sell the magazine on newsstands. YM,
which has a current rate base of 2.2 million, sells an
average of 629,000 copies on newsstands.
Iverson, who replaced Diane Salvatore, has
named four new executives to her editorial staff.
Trey Speegle, who was at POZ, was named crea-tive
director. Katrina Szish, a fashion writer for
Vogue, who has been wrting for Teen Vogue, was
named features director, and Doug Perlman, who had
been a consultant to several magazines, was named
editor of special projects. Kate Moodie, who
worked at Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Redbook,
joined YM as style director.
MEDIA BRIEFS _______________________
Teen Vogue's pilot issue will be sent out
Vogue's October number, and it will appear on news-stands
in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The teen mag uses Vogue's editorial staff, headed
by Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief, and Amy Astley,
who is Vogue's beauty director, is editor.
The magazine will feature photos and articles
about celebrities and fashion layouts.
Details, which has not been published since
has been relaunched as a general interest magazine
for men, with fashion making up 25% of its cover-age.
Dan Peres is editor-in-chief.
a website start-up with ambitions to provide comprehensive
business information online, has secured $61 million in
new funding from a group of investors, led by Pearson, the
owner of The Financial Times. Other investors include Cahners
Business Information, IndustyClick, a subsidiary of Primedia,
and McGraw-Hill's information and publishing group.
Business.com, which went live in June, features a business
directory on the Internet as well as profiles of thousands
of U.S. companies.
American Greetings Corp., Cleveland, has acquired
eAgents of Fairfax, Va., from Charlie Fink, who will run
the greeting card company's website, AmericanGreetings.com.
can pick from 50 media companies to design their own daily
newspaper through eAgent.
For example, one could choose news from MSNBC, a recipe
from Food.com, a cartoon from The New Yorker, and TV listings
from TV Guide to show up as E-mail every day in newspaper
STYLE.COM MAKES DEBUT
made its online debut Sept. 18, with the start of Style.com,
CondeNet's fashion site.
One of the features is a "W Best Dressed List,"
which features a new "best dressed" person each
week, and "On the Scene" coverage with photos
and highlights from celebrity parties, society functions
and fashion weeks.
Other editorial features include spot news from Women's
Wear Daily, daily horoscopes, fashion-related cartoons
from The New Yorker, an interactive game in which users
test their fashion knowledge, and weather reports.
Wmagazine.com joins Vogue.com,
which was started in September 1999, to offer fashion show
coverage, photographs, trend reports, news, celebrity styles
and an online store in conjunction with Neiman Marcus, which
has an alliance with Style.com.
Eventually other Conde Nast publications, including Glamour
and Mademoiselle as well as Fairchild's Jane, will
be added to the Style.com site.
Style.com launched with complete coverage of the spring
2001 fashion show held last week at Bryant Park in New York,
featuring reviews, video high-lights, and digital images
of 6,000 looks by more than 100 designers.
David Roberts has replaced Paul Irvin as news director
of WUSA-TV, Washington, D.C. Roberts had been news director
of WXIA-TV, Atlanta.
Scott Suttell was promoted to managing editor of
Crain's Cleveland Business, succeeding Chris Thompson,
who was named editor/general manager of Crain's Cleveland
Deanna Bottar, previously metro editor at The
Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch, succeeds Suttell as
Andy Gensler, previously reviews and news editor
at VH1.com, has joined New York-based Music.com as managing
Ed Walsh, a former WOR-AM program director, was named
host of a new morning talk show that is replacing "Rambling
Flynn McRoberts, a roving reporter for The Chicago Tribune,
has joined Newsweek as a national correspondent in the Chicago
bureau. He will cover the Midwest and breaking news around
(Media news continued on next page)
Edition, September 27, 2000, Page 4
IS BECOMING PREFERRED IR MEDIUM
Broadcasting live over the Internet is becoming the preferred
medium for disclosing quarterly earnings and other material
nonpublic information to the investment community, according
to Christensen & Assocs., an IR firm based in Scottsdale,
The firm conducted a survey in which more than 87% of the
analysts and portfolio managers responded they are able
and interested in participating in meetings and teleconferences
via the Internet.
More than 5,000 companies have already agreed to webcast
their news events over StreetFusion's website (www.StreetFusion.com),
and more are expected to start when the new Securities and
Exchange Commission's Fair Disclosure rule goes into effect
The new Regulation FD requires that companies release financial
material and market-moving data to all investors simultaneously,
instead of the historic practice of selectively sharing
Christensen found the Internet provides the following benefits
-Expanded audience and increased exposure
-Reach worldwide audience simultaneously
-Enhanced corporate image
-Reduced travel time and expenses
-Archive broadcasts indefinitely for future references
-Conduct interactive Q&A via phone or E-mail
-Decreased number of incoming calls to IR dept.
EMC'S VNRs AVERAGE 12.5M VIEWERS
Electronic Media Communications, Irvine, Calif., reports
an increase in viewership of video news releases in the
first eight months of 2000.
Relying on figures provided by Nielsen Media Research, EMC
said the viewership average for 36 VNRs that it produced
and distributed during the period of Jan. 1 through Aug.
31 climbed to more than 12.5 million.
Patrick Pharris, president/CEO of EMC, said the VNRs, which
generated a total of more that 213 million viewers, is more
than four million viewers higher than it was in 1999.
The firm's top VNRs included Nabisco Mini Oreos launch (24.2
million); Interactive Health (22 million); Paramount Parks'
Great American Stealth (19.3 million); Gary Kasporov website
launch (16M); Paramount Parks, Kings Island: Son of Beast
(14.6M), and Metricom's launch of Ricochet (12.2M).
PR PRO OFFERS PUBLICITY TIPS
Colburn Aker, Washington, D.C., counselor, advised the 500-member
New Media Society at its Sept. 23 CyberSalon meeting on
how technology companies can get more media exposure.
Here are Aker's 10 placement tips:
1. Think big. Position your company as part of a larger
trend or exciting new technology story. What's your benefit
to the public?
2. Think vertically. Make sales your first objective
by using a vertical market publicity strategy to reach your
customers (e.g., trade media).
3. Generate a lead. Use a direct response PR strategy
to prompt a contact from an interested party you didn't
4. Become the media. Make your website a resource
for the media by creating a media section and updating it
with useful information.
5. Consider exclusives. Is it better to have a few quality
stories in leading publications or lots of smaller stories
in less targeted media? Media prefer exclusives.
6. Customize news releases. Don't rely on news releases
as your only strategy and remember that the same release
may not work everywhere.
7. Use the fast pitch. Personal contact with media
is most effective but only if you have an "elevator"
pitch and respect media's time.
8. Offer interviews and events. Outside of information,
these are your most valuable assets for interesting media
in doing a story.
9. Talk to the right reporter. Know what reporters
write about by reading them, then target and frequently
update your media database.
10. Create news. None of the other tips will work if
you cannot offer a newsworthy story. Learn to think like
a reporter. Follow the news.
PLACEMENT TIPS _____________________
The New York Post has begun publishing a weekly
business section, called "Wealth."
10-page section, which will appear every Monday, offers
a mix of news briefs and feature articles about executives
of publicly owned companies and investors.
Bloomberg Radio named veteran reporters Derek Davis
and Dianne Thompson as anchors of the Urban Business Report.
The report, which is syndicated to 41 affiliates across
the country, is tailored to the African-American community.
Davis joined Bloomberg earlier this year, and in addition
to anchoring the UBR, he also reports for Bloomberg TV.
Thompson has been with Bloomberg since 1992.
Forbes Global, the international edition of Forbes,
has a "total readership" that is 8% higher than
Fortune, 33% higher than The Wall Street Journal
Europe, 21% higher than The International Herald
Tribune and 4% higher than Newsweek, according
to the latest European Businessman Readership Survey.
EBRS measures marketing and readership data on senior business
decision-makers who account for the majority of business
expenditures in medium to large-size companies in 17 European
Edition, September 27, 2000, Page 7
POSTPONES BLUE BOOK (cont'd)
The nine board members signing petitions to nominate Killeen
are Sandra Longcrier of Oklahoma City; Del Galloway, Northern
Florida; Roger Lewis, Omaha; Reed Byrum, Austin; Maria Russell,
Buffalo/ Niagara; Steven Shivinsky, East Central; David
Simon, Sherman Oaks; Tom Bartikoski, Minneapolis, and Judith
The other directors are Sam Waltz, immediate past chair;
Kathy Lewton, chair-elect; Steve Pisinski, chair; Ralph
Kam, Hawaii; Deanna Pelfrey, Louisville, Ky., and Mitch
The five district chairs supporting Killeen are Cheryl Proctor-Rogers,
Midwest; Linda Cohen, Western; Robert Stack, Sunshine; Margaret
Allender, North Pacific, and Mel Thompson, Northeast.
Also petitioning to be a candidate is Jeff Julin of MGA
Communications, Denver, who is running for "open"
director. Simon, an "open" director from California,
is regarded by the nominating committee as the new western
director, succeeding Kam. Julin has sought to be a director
Stevens Blasts "Poor Judgment"
Stevens said this was the "first time in the history
of PRSA that board members have taken a partisan role in
the nominating procedure." The board has "repudiated
the wishes of the committee that selected me," said
Stevens, adding: "What this suggests is that nine members
of the board have decided to reject the wishes of its own
nominating committee that represents the leadership of PRSA
and have decided to play partisan politics.
"I personally believe that these nine board members
are doing irreparable harm to PRSA. I am confident that
I not only have the support of the nominating committee
but many supporters within PRSA throughout the country.
I will not allow the poor judgment of the board members
to deter me
from my goal of providing the leadership that PRSA needs.
There has been financial mismanagement and one of the reasons
I chose to run was to help provide the kind of sorely needed
financial management that PRSA desperately needs. I will
debate her any time, any place," said Stevens.
Other Signers Listed
Also signing petitions for Killeen (all of them Assembly
delegates) were: Michael McDermott, Frank Mack, John Kerezy,
Shawn Nakamoto, Julie Manning, Rob Wakefield, Natalie Knox,
David Gross-man, Larry Gauper, Robbin Wells, Duncan Muir,
Meg Frainey, Reginald Rowe, Richard Terrell, Dan Durazo,
Judy Hilsinger, Christine Gronkiewicz, Roberta Murray, Mary
Barber, Faye Andersen, Joseph Vecchione, Becky Peeling,
Doug Coffee, Stephanie Harwood, Bob Holtzman and Bill Husted.
WICI Skipped Members' Directory
When Women in Communications, Inc. was unable to put out
a members' directory two years in a row in the mid-1990s,
the group ceased to exist. All h.q. staffers were laid off
and members created a new organization, Assn. for Women
There has been "some improvement" lately at PRSA,
said Killeen, because a "good number" of those
not renewing are coming back and there is a "projected"
gain of 4,000 new members for 2000.
She said there were "miscommunications between staff
and the board" which caused delay in completing the
1999 audit. Deloitte & Touche, she added, had questions
and concerns about PRSA's bookkeeping including "the
method we used to account for deferred dues."
Account Payables Are Down
Account payables of PRSA as of June 30 were
$614,477, down from $880,379 on Dec. 31, 1999. Receivables
were $386,598 vs. $509,093 Dec. 31.
The deferred dues account as of June 30 was put at $613,477.
CPAs have said that this account should be at least $1.6
million because of services PRSA owes to its members in
PRSA listed cash at $26,768 as of June 30, down from $291,548
on Dec. 31. Investments were $971,123 June 30 vs. $975,602
on Dec. 31, 1999.
current assets were listed at $1,673,459 and total current
liabilities at $1,206,922. The "fund balance"
on June 30 was $1,242,250 vs. $1,486,555 on Dec. 31, 1999
and $1,912,843 on Dec. 31, 1998.
The installation of the iMIS database system at h.q. has
caused problems. It has been "more complicated than
anticipated," Killeen told the members, add-ing: "As
a result, we found ourselves faced with poor membership
data and inadequate financial information."
G/H CITED FOR WORKPLACE BENEFITS
Chicago Magazine has named Golin/Harris as one of
the best places to work in the city and suburbs. G/H, which
is part of Interpublic, was ranked 14th overall, and was
the only PR firm on the magazine's list of the 25 "Best
Places to Work."
The top five places to work were CDW Computer Centers, Household
International, Hewitt Assocs., Tellabs and Abbott Laboratories.
McDonald's, a longtime G/H client, finished eight, and Leo
Burnett ad agency was ranked 18th.
"At Golin/Harris, our philosophy is simple: We provide
employees with the benefits and work environment that enriches
their lives, making them happier, healthier and more productive,"
said Keith Burton, EVP/managing director, central region.
The PR firm offers many work-life benefits including: sabbatical
(four years of paid leave following four years of service);
emergency child care; "newlywed" leave (a week
of paid time off above accrued vacation); health club benefits;
tuition reim-bursement, and ongoing professional training.
Chicago's editors asked more than 5,000 companies to respond
to a questionnaire on their workplace practices. More than
300 companies responded. The editors then identified 75
top contenders, and surveyed employees at each of those
combination of the scores from the two surveys determined
the top 25.
Edition, September 27, 2000, Page 8
claimed last week that its new Weber Shandwick creation
is the No. 1 PR firm with more than $300 million in
fees. Dow Jones, the New York Times, Reuters, and
others printed the claim.
this is hotly disputed by other firms and certainly by this
WS is a collection of firms assembled in the past few years
mostly using IPG's high-priced stock. Shandwick, itself,
was about 35 firms purchased from 1986 to the early 1990s.
IPG's acquisitive ways now appear to be in jeopardy since
its stock has plummeted from $58 to $34. As we have noted,
the ad conglomerates have about run out of ad/PR firms to
buy and are annexing almost anything that's for sale including
dot-coms and all sorts of ad/PR supplier firms.
The IPG No. 1 claim is fatuous for a number of reasons starting
with IPG's own self-certified "PR" fee totals
that were run through the "Council of PR Firms,"
a creature of the ad conglomerates.
No proofs whatever are required by the Council which accepts
fees adulterated by up to 49% ad commissions, research fees,
printing, graphics, website building, etc.
How much of WS's claimed $300M in fees are in ads, promotion
and other forms of one-way communications is anybody's guess.
The Council, besides corrupting the ranking of PR firms,
is operating under a false name. It should be "The
Council of Integrated Marketing Firms."
The PR counseling industry must not let IPG get away with
this claim. It will use it to great effect on unknowing
client prospects. Company managers protecting their backsides
will go with "No. 1."
by the way, has almost no credibility with us. It put
out a false financial report on its earnings (8/9 NL) and
refuses to retract it. The company won't reveal its more
than 50 recent acquisitions. It has no one to answer questions
by the press or public, touching off howls of complaints
on the Yahoo! bulletin board. A posting last week called
the IR section of the IPG website "a joke." If
any of IPG's agencies put up such a "paltry amount
of information" for a client it would be "fired
by the end of the day," said the message. In contrast
to IPG and Omnicom, which don't hold press conferences and
have no PR or IR contacts, Publicis (page 2) met the press
for two hours last week and fielded numerous questions.
Publicis said it always invites the press to analyst meetings,
a practice not followed by the public U.S. ad agencies.
stonewall at PRSA has finally crumbled, revealing the financial
rot that we have been writing about for years. Most
telling for us is the acknowledgment that PRSA has failed
to have a large enough deferred dues account to cover future
services that members have paid for.
But Deloitte & Touche, PRSA's accountant, is given credit
for raising this question. Rather, D&T should be taken
out and flayed within an inch of its life for letting this
scam go on for years. Even now, the DD amount is a fraction
of what it should be. D&T also shares responsibility
for letting PRSA get away with claiming that it makes money
on Tactics and Strategist. It allows PRSA to shift about
a half million from dues to "publication income"
each year and this scam continues in the current report.
three-page financial letter to Assembly delegates and members
talks a lot about the need for "better financial policies
and procedures" but skips all the gut issues. PRSA
is broke because it has lost well over $5 million on Tactics
and Strategist in recent years; lost more than $2M on APR
in ten years; lets the staff pay itself 38% of revenues,
which is way above the 28% average for groups of its size,
and spent $4,078,859 on travel in the past ten years. Travel
costs were a record $581,871 in 1999, up 69% from the 1996
total of $343,886. Scheduling board meetings at resort destinations
(London, Tahoe, Carmel, Vancouver, Sante Fe, San Juan, Sundance)
was definitely not good PR.
staff and officers are now so consumed with marginal activities
like APR test revision, the five-year plan, code revision,
the upcoming conference, election battle, Assembly, etc.,
that they can't put out PRSA's main productthe register
of members. It has broken the trust in which its members
held it. All this rot is now piling up at the feet of one
group in PRSAthe APRs. Although PRSA says it doesn't
have the money to put out the directory, we think the real
reason is that it lost more than 4,000 members in the first
half due to the dues increase and didn't want to put out
a directory listing 16,000 members. It hopes that it will
bring in nearly 4,000 new and renewed members in the second
proposed new ethics code, by the way, which takes PRSA out
of the enforcement business, is weak. It calls PR pros
"advocates for those we represent" whereas the
previous code said PR pros have "dual obligations"
to the client and the "democratic process." The
new code is a sell-out to the integrated marketing school
and kills the credibility of PR people, who are supposed
to give out straight information, good and bad (the philosophy
of NIRI). Also, the new code does not correct the old code's
main flawmandating that PR firms identify the source,
funding, etc., behind any communication or campaign.
Stevens is angry that nine fellow directors have organized
to deny him the nomination for chair-elect, over-riding
the nominating committee. We don't blame him. When the board
last year voted a year-long boycott of this NL, we urged
Stevens to disavow this action. But he said he was loyal
to the board. The board members have not been loyal to him.
His main offense is that he is a New Yorker, which is anathema
to the non-New York element that rules PRSA. By not allowing
New Yorkers to work at h.q., they have brought PRSA to its