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Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 1

2009 Rankings Issue
Full table of ’08 revenues from 157 PR firms.
See pages 4-6.


A lucrative PR contract for clean air initiatives in the Houston-Galveston region of Texas has gone out for bids through the end of the month.

The $352K a year pact, which runs for three years, has been handled by Vollmer PR over the last three years. That budget is down from previous years, when it was worth more than $600K annually.

The Houston-Galveston Area Council oversees the PR efforts, although the entire budget comes from federal funds. In past years, local funding had bolstered the PR expenditures.

Proposals are due by March 24 and the RFP can be downloaded at

The significant PR budget pales in comparison to the $1 billion in federal transportation funding for the region that hinges on it cutting ozone pollution levels, which are too high above federal air quality standards.

The H-G region encompasses 13 counties in Texas with nearly 5.7M people across 12,500 square miles.


Philips Electronics has consolidated its estimated $15M global PR effort at affiliates of Omnicom. The business has been at MS&L Worldwide and Text 100 for the past five years.

OMC is establishing a group called One Voice to handle PE’s collection of lighting/healthcare/consumer products offerings, corporate communications, interactive and corporate social responsibility.

Staffers from Ketchum, Fleishman-Hillard, Kreab Gavin Anderson and CPR Worldwide will make up OV.

The account shift is effective July 1.


CRT/tanaka has acquired New York-based Lewis & Neale, a 69-year-old food PR specialty firm.

Richmond, Va.-based CRT said L&N will continue to operate separately as a subsidiary with current president Anita Fial at the helm. The lease on its New York operation, which includes a test kitchen, photo studio and food library, will be maintained, CRT said.

L&N, which has about 10 staffers, has worked with the U.S. Apple Association, Florida Tomato Committee, Kraft Foods, Lea & Perrins and the European Union Products Campaign.

CRT counted about $3.2M of its roughly $12M in 2008 revenue in the food and beverage sector.

The breadth of Lewis & Neale’s experience in food and nutrition doubles our strength within these categories,” said Mark Raper, CRT chairman and CEO.


The ten biggest independent PR firms reporting 2008 figures for the O’Dwyer rankings were either up or about even. Edelman grew 12.4% to $449M as it added $53.7M to its fee total. Were the added fees an agency by itself, it would be the sixth biggest on the list.

Fifty-one firms opted out of the ranking, some of them candidly saying their results were too dismal to report. Most of the drop-outs declined to say anything.

Fifteen firms, although hit with double-digit percentage declines, reported their figures anyway. Seventeen firms joined the list.

The number of ranked firms declined to 157 from 190 in the 2007 rankings. The ten biggest independent PR firms grew at an average of 10.7% in 2008. Their total of $975M in fees was 75% of the total fees of the 50 largest firms reporting figures -- $1.299 billion.

Three others in the top ten had double digit

(Continued on page 4)


PR Society VP-PR Arthur Yann and PRS member Don Tepper of Fairfax, Va., debated Jack O’Dwyer on the Capital Communicator blog March 5.

O’Dwyer had published on March 3 an open letter to President Obama asking him to have the proper government office investigate the refusal of the PR Society to allow O’Dwyer ads in PRS media and its refusal to allow anyone from the O’Dwyer Co. to join the organization.

O’Dwyer said that PRS gets its tax-free status from its promise to serve the entire PR community and its promise not to be in competition with what any private business can do.

Its membership list of 22,000 was built up in 61 years with tax-free dollars and is not PRS’s private property, the O’Dwyer letter said.

The O’Dwyer letter was picked up by the Capitol Communicator blog operated by Phil Rabin which carried not only the O’Dwyer complaints about ads and membership, but criticism by O’Dwyer and others about the all-white 17-member PRS board.

New York counselor Michael Paul has said that it is “ironic” that the nation has a black president but the PRS board has no one of color on it.

(Continued on page 7)


Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 2


CRC Public Relations is leading the charge of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, a group that wants to defeat any government-run healthcare system that might come from the Obama Administration.

CPR co-founder Rick Scott, former CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., promises a multi-million dollar campaign promoting “free market health reforms solutions” to the nation’s healthcare crisis.

He raises the specter of “Washington bureaucrats making decisions instead of doctors and patients.” CPR believes healthcare needs to be rooted in the principles of “choice, competition, accountability and personal responsibility.”

CPR’s initial $500K three-week ad blitz includes spots on CNN, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity’s radio programs. Web ads are set for Politico, National Review and Real Clear Politics.

The second phase of the communications effort will warn about the dangers stemming from a nationalized health system.

CRC, which used to be known as Creative Response Concepts, is the firm of Greg Mueller, who was a top aide to Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes.

It pitched the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group that attacked Massachusetts Senator John Kerry during the `04 Presidential campaign and has pushed for intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has hired the Gephardt Group to bolster its lobbying firepower in D.C.

GG is headed by former House Majority Leader and Democratic Presidential candidate Dick Gephardt, who enjoyed strong support from organized labor during his political career.

The Chamber is currently locked in a fierce battle with the AFL-CIO over the fate of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to join unions by signing cards rather than voting in a secret ballot.

The Chamber rips the “card check bill” as part of an “aggressive activist agency” that will “impose new and costly regulations on business.” The AFL-CIO responds that companies use the current secret tally system to actively campaign and discredit unions.


Jill Nash, who stepped down as Yahoo!’s communications chief last month, has returned to the apparel sector in a similar role at Levi Strauss & Co.

Nash, formerly VP of global communications for clothing retailer Gap Inc., left Yahoo! in February after two years and three CEOs at the Internet giant. At Levi Strauss, she retains a CCO title along with the VP of corporate affairs role.

Prior to Gap Inc., she was VP of corporate comms. at Charles Schwab Corp.

Levi Strauss posted 2008 sales of $4.4 billion on the strength of its flagship Levi’s and Dockers brands. But its fourth quarter ’08 profit tumbled 77 percent to $62M compared with ’07.


Boeing has tapped BKSH & Assocs. to spearhead its lobbying effort as the aerospace giant strengthens its presence in D.C.

Charlie Black, who exited BKSH in `08 to head John McCain’s Presidential campaign, is among the heavyweights to rep Boeing in the areas of trade, environmental/climate change and tax matters. He was chief spokesperson for the Republican National Committee and counselor to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Black is joined by Scott Pastrick (BKSH CEO), M.B. Ogelsby (former assistant counsel for legislation at the Army Corps of Engineers), Jim Healey (a 15-year aide to ex-Rep Dan Rostenkowsi), and Rich Meade (aide to the former House Budge Committee chairman).

Boeing has just added Sean McCormick as VP-communications in Washington. He was assistant secretary for PA at Condi Rice’s State Dept.


Omnicom’s Clark & Weinstock is repping the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, which earlier this month launched the “Mothers Day Every Day” campaign with CARE.

The MDED effort wants greater U.S. leadership to promote safe and healthy pregnancies and birth worldwide.

The Alliance’s outreach is based on education, nutrition and improved access to healthcare before, during and after pregnancy.

The Alliance says more than 500K pregnant women die each year from childbirth and maternal mortality. It estimates the U.S. loses $15.5B in potential productivity from lost mothers and newborns.

C&W staffers handling the account are Sandra Stuart (ex-Assistant Secretary of Defense), Erik Hotmire (ex-communications director for the USA Freedom Corps), Deirdre Stach (former legislative director to Rep. Bob Walker) and Peg McGlinch (ex-legislative counsel to Sen. Harry Reid).


The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is searching for a PR firm to highlight the 106-year-old not-for-profit group’s mission of fighting diseases that affect the world’s poor.

The organization has issued an open RFP to guide its $70K/year PR account. Firms that make the interview round must appear in Washington, D.C., for that process.

Environics Communications previously handled the account and has indicated it will not pursue the contract, said Matthew Lesh, communications manager for the group.

The ASTMH, which publishes a monthly peer-reviewed journal, was set up in 1903 and includes scientists, clinicians and other global health professionals focused on controlling infectious and other diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poor.

Deadline for proposals is March 16. Lesh has details ([email protected]); 847-480-9592. Media relations and PR are the focus of the account.


Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 3


WSJ, the glossy magazine of the Wall Street Journal, is pushing back plans to go monthly due to the advertising slump.

The quarterly’s March issue carries a fashion theme and features LVMH chief Bernard Arnault on its cover.

There are 27 ads in the 92 page mag. The premier issue had 51 ads and 104 pages.

WSJ publisher Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio told WWD that News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch is fully committed to the magazine.

It remains a quarterly due to the “extremely challenging” advertising environment.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has expanded its sports coverage to six days a week to offer readers more than business and financial news. Sam Walker, sports editor, is not planning game coverage. He wants stories that are “idea-based with big themes.”

The Journal had covered sports on Friday in its “Weekend Journal” section.


Philadelphia Media Holdings chief Brian Tierney says the tabloid Philadelphia Daily News will be printed as an edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer to save money on wire services by positioning the papers as a single subscriber.

They will have their own staffers and be sold separately on newsstands and to subscribers.

The change takes place March 30.

Advertising sales gains are anticipated by the move. Tierney, in an interview with the PDN, said: “Instead of telling advertisers we have 330,000 circulation (at the Inquirer) plus the PDN, it will help to say we have 440,000 daily circulation.”

The change had been in the works for a year. Tierney put both papers into bankruptcy last month.


NBC launched “New York Nonstop,” a cable and over-the-air digital channel in New York City, on March 9. It is available to 5.7M viewers and calls itself a “local information and lifestyle channel.”

The channel provides news updates every 15 minutes and runs “pod segments” in between. NYN wants information from bloggers and third-party providers.

Meredith McGinn, senior VP/special projects at NBC 4 New York, likens NYN to a shuffle iPod, in which a listener doesn’t know what song will play next.


The Home Shopping Network cut 250 jobs during the fourth quarter as the cable programmer suffered a $2.1B loss due to write-offs of $2.4B.

CEO Mindy Grossman reports that sale of big ticket items fell, while electronics and wellness offerings held their own. Net sales dropped 11 percent to $778M.

HSN has suspended merit increases for `09 and is looking to reduce travel and other costs.

The company was founded in 1977 and was part of IAC/InterActiveCorp until it was spun off in `08.


Amit Kapur, COO of MySpace, has left the News Corp. social portal, according to a memo from CEO Chris DeWolfe.

He attested to Kapur’s “tenacity, passion and creativity as a leader within MySpace and the larger industry.”

Jim Benedetto, senior VP/engineering, and Steve Pearman, senior VP/product strategy will join Kapur to launch a new venture.

DeWolfe expects `09 will be a “big year for our business.” The firm is “effectively monetizing the stickiest sections of our site such as Music by coupling the world’s richest content offering with creative ad programming online and off.”


President Barack Obama has nominated Julius Genachowski to chair the Federal Communications Commission.

Genachowski has extensive experience both inside and outside the government. He is co-founder of LaunchBox Digital and Rock Creek Ventures and special advisor to General Atlantic.

He worked for eight years at Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, serving as chief of business operations and general counsel.

Genachowski was chief counsel to former FCC chairman Reed Hundt and commissioner William Kennard before he assumed the top spot.

He clerked for Supreme Court justices William Brennan and David Souter, and was an aide to New York Rep. (now Senator) Chuck Schumer.


McClatchy Co. is cutting 12 percent of the Star-Telegram’s work force due to the “unprecedented revenue declines due to the economic recession,” according to S-T publisher Gary Wortel.

The reductions are across the board and voluntary buyouts are being offered to more than 1,100 staffers.

The paper has forged a joint distribution agreement with Belo’s Dallas Morning News and is selling real estate holdings.

Wortel told staffers the S-T remains focused “on our goal to be the No. 1 local news source” and providing a “valued product to readers and advertisers.”


The Connecticut School of Broadcasting, a national TV and radio journalism and production school, has shut down. The 45-year-old CSB had 26 locations across the U.S.

The Associated Press reported that students were alerted on the night of March 4 via text message and the doors of the school were locked the next day.

Local TV station WTNH said students who paid $12K for the semester were “livid” at the closing a week before graduation.

The station reported that CSB’s original owner and founder has started the process of re-opening the school.

(Media news continued on next page)


Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 4


WPP Group on March 6 reported 2008 profit dipped 5.8 percent to $616M as the second-half economic slump took its toll on the ad/PR combine.

CEO Martin Sorrell called `08 a year of “two contrasting halves.” Organic growth was up four percent during the first half then posted a one percent gain for the remainder of the year due to the “impact of the sub-prime and insurance monocline crisis.”

WPP’s Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Ogilvy PR Worldwide-led PR/PA unit showed a 6.9 percent growth for the year.

Sorrell had expected ’09 to be weak following ’08, which included the Beijing Olympics, U.S. Presidential elections and UEFA soccer championships.

The short-term scenario has now darkened because the “unprecedented current financial crisis has triggered a vicious recession across the globe.”

Sorrell has downgraded his `09 forecast from flat to a two percent decline in budgets. He sees a “recovery of sorts” next year.


Dozens of small and mid-sized firms have honed their approach for new business to a “bargain” pitch, highlighting scaled-back slates of services aimed at budget-conscious clients.

HWH PR/New Media in New York is touting an online “PR Starter Kit,” a package of free and “ultra affordable” PR services aimed at entities without significant ad and PR budgets.

“People just need a positive new perspective and affordable new ways to do business,” HWH president Lois Whitman said of the downturned economy.

Jeff Davis, who recently founded Houston-based FoodSmart Communications, is promoting a $500 press release and distribution service aimed at value-conscious clients looking to launch new products.

Davis is also highlighting FoodSmart’s honed distribution model as a value proposition. The firm only pitches about 170 food writers and bloggers who opt-in to its distribution list, a more targeted approach than the mass distribution more common in PR.

Pitching smaller firms as more affordable alternatives is a recurring theme. Two former partners of Omnicom firm BlueCurrent PR this week announced the formation of a boutique shop in Dallas, MM2 PR.

“The time is right for independent firms that provide big-agency experience with a more personalized and cost-effective approach,” said Larry Meltzer, who is teaming with former BlueCurrent and Fleishman-Hillard colleagues, Robert Martin and Annette Rogers.

Scores of firms are relaying the axiom that companies need to keep communicating in a recession.

Risdall Marketing Group, a marketing communications firm based in New Brighton, Minn., is echoing that warning as it markets a "Stimulus Value Package" to prospective clients.

The $7K slate of services includes an account planning session, PR supporting one idea or observation for the client, a piece of creative like a banner ad, social media marketing and other services.

BIG FIRMS GREW IN 2008 (continued from 1)

growths-Waggener Edstrom up 12.4% to $119M; APCO Worldwide up 15.3% to $112.4M, and Qorvis Communications up 14.5% to $34.9M.

ICR, after growing 40% in 2007, grew 6% in 2008 to $26.2M. Text 100 was up 5% to $63M; Ruder Finn up 3% to $96M; DKC/Dan Klores Communications up 3.3% to $22.4M, and Schwartz Communications was about even at $31M as was Taylor at $20.2M.

For the seventh straight year, conglomerate-owned PR firms such as Weber Shandwick, Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, Fleishman-Hillard and Ketchum, were not allowed to report any figures.

The 157 firms ranked by O’Dwyer’s had a total of $1,396,412,161 in fees, a 7.6% gain from the total of $1,299,877,004 reported by 190 independents in 2007.

WeissComm, Coyne Star in Top 50

Biggest gains in the top 50 were turned in by WeissComm Partners, the San Francisco-based healthcare specialist, growing 46% to $18.9M, and Coyne PR, of Parsippany, N.J., growing 35% to $11.3M.

Other big gainers in the top 50 were Lewis PR of San Francisco, up 28% to $8.1M; Davies of Santa Barbara, Calif., up 24% to $10.8M; Makovsky & Co., New York, up 19% to $11M; Levick Strategic Communications, Washington, D.C., up 17% to $10M, Spark PR, San Francisco, up 16% to $6.9M and which joined the top 50; Shift Communications, Brighton, Mass., up 15% to $12.2M, and Gregory FCA Communications, Ardmore, Pa., up 15% to $8M.

Also joining the top 50 were Crosby Marketing Communications, Annapolis, rising 8% to $8.2M, and Lou Hammond & Assocs., up 9% to $7.1M. Tech, healthcare and financial PR firms turned in many of the best performances.

Dropping from the ’08 list, besides Regan, which had reported a 14% gain in 2007 to $21M, were Bite Comms., S.F. ($16M in 2007); Lippert/Heilshorn Assocs., New York ($11M in 2007); HealthStar, New York ($8.9M in 2007); Stanton Crenshaw, New York, ($8M in 2007), and Jackson Spalding, Atlanta ($7.4M in 2007).

Singer, Werth Join List

Joining the list were Paul Werth Assocs., Columbus, Ohio, reporting $5,794,000 in fees, up 17%, and Singer Assocs., San Francisco, with $5,624,881 in fees, down 9%.

Other double-digit gains on the list were registered by Hager Sharp, Washington, D.C., up 20% to $6.5M; GYMR, D.C., up 18.9% to $5.5M; Atomic Communications, San Francisco, up 42% to $7.6M; Consensus Planning, Los Angeles, up 19% to $4.6M; Launch Squad, S.F., up 42% to $4.2M; Matter Communications, Boston, up 20% to $4M; Lambert, Edwards, Grand Rapids, Mich., up 22% to $3.7M; Richard Dukas Communications, New York, up 47% to $3.4M; Walek & Assocs., New York, up 10% to $3M; HLB Communications, Chicago, up 12.9% to $2.7M; Peritus PR, Louisville, Kentucky, up 40% to $2.7M; Dodge Communications, Roswell, Ga., up 49% to $2.4M; Hope-Beckham, Atlanta, up 27% to $2.1M, and Roman/Peshoff, Holland, Ohio, up 62% to $2.7M.

Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 5

O’Dwyer’s Rankings of Independent PR Firms
With Major U.S. Operations
Click here to view rankings

Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 6


Rodger Roeser, president of Eisen Marketing Group outside of Cincinnati and former head of the PR Society chapter there, is working to organize PR agency owners in a new national association.

Roeser has formed the PR Agency Owners Association to give voice to what he says are hundreds of PR firm leaders whose voices and challenges are not being heard or addressed by current PR groups.

The 2005 president of PRS/Cincinnati called the Society a "wonderful organization" that he will continue to dedicate time to, but he noted "much of the membership is rather young and not at a senior level facing ownership challenges and issues."

Said Roeser: "I don’t need to learn how to pitch the media; we owners need to understand and address key business issues and proactively confront those strategically for the growth and health of our firms and our clientele."

The PR executive has found success with an online radio show, "That Marketing Show," and claims Eisen Marketing Group, which is based in Newport, Ky., is the largest firm in the Cincinnati area.

Roeser said he makes the case for companies to hire PR firms by comparing agency fees with the cost of hiring an in-house staffer.

For a $50K agency expenditure, he calculates an in-house staffer with two years of experience would cost a company $90K after all the costs are added up.

NEWS OF SERVICES _________________________________


Robert Grupp, former VP of corporate and public affairs at Cephalon, has been elected president and CEO of the Institute for PR following a six-month search.

Grupp, who has been a trustee of the Institute since 2004, takes the reins at the PR research organization from Frank Ovaitt, who announced his retirement in November after five years.

The Institute, a non-profit, said more than 25 candidates were considered in the search, which was led by Heyman Associates.

Grupp was 2008 president of the International PR Association and co-chaired its World Congress in Beijing last fall. He heads his own management consultancy handling corporate communications and international PR.

Prior to Cephalon, he worked in corporate comms., public affairs and PR at Eli Lilly, Dow Corning and Consumers Energy. Grupp started out as a newspaper journalist in Florida and Illinois.

“I am thoroughly energized by the opportunity to lead the Institute,” Grupp said in a statement.

BRIEF: Lee Weinstein, principal at LWA PR, Portland, is hosting a new Internet radio show, “PR Works Show,” at The show debuted on March 5 at noon EST. Weinstein, a former director of comms. for Nike, said he’ll feature PR pros to share experiences and best practices. Each show will also be available in podcast form.


New York Area

Weill, New York/Baur au Lac, Zurich hotel, for PR. The 175-year-old property is unveiling suites and a new restaurant in the summer of ’09.

Krupp Kommunications, New York/Rabbi Irwin Kula, for PR.

Lotus PR, New York/N.Y. chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, as AOR for PR.

Oxford Communications, Lambertville, N.J./Hollywood Tans, tanning salon chain, as AOR including PR, advertising and interactive work.

Springboard PR, Marlboro, N.J./ElementN, cloud-based database platform; Newfound Communications, IP call recording, and Bay Crest Partners, financial services, for PR and marketing.

Warschawski, Baltimore/Weil, Akman, Baylin & Coleman, accounting firm, for website design

Weber Shandwick, Baltimore/The Maryland Zoo, for “brand management” and marketing.

Sage Communications, Vienna, Va./China Telecom Americas, Virginia subidiary of Chinese telecom; GigaTrust, enterprise rights management software, and NexAira, wireless data solutions, for PR.


Zeno Group, Chicago/Porter Airlines, for launch of new service between Chicago and Toronto.


Gable PR, San Diego/AnaptysBio, therapeutic antibody applications, for PR and IR.

PEOPLE _____________________________________


Jeff Hunt, ex-CEO of GCI Group, to Feldman & Partners, as a partner based in Austin. Hunt worked with Bob Feldman at GCI and earlier at Burson-Marsteller. Feldman is based in Los Angeles with the two-year-old firm.

Marichelli Hughes, VP for Thorp & Company, to Jones Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., as an A/D. She handles healthcare clients like Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Coalition for Patients’ Rights.

John Haudrich, VP of IR, Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., to Owens-Illinois, Perrysburgh, Ohio, as VP of IR taking over for Paul Butts, who was named VP and sales category leader.

Natalie Tejeda, comms. specialist for the San Antonio Water System, to Dublin & Associates, San Antonio, as an A/E.

Jenn Corsey, previously with The Spizman Aegncy, to Westbound Communications, Orange, Calif., as an A/E.

Chelsea Waliser, field director handling voter contact for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Washington State, to Nyhus Communications, Seattle, as an A/E. She was previously campaign manager for Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.). Josh Dill, who oversaw new media for the Rossi for Governor campaign, joins as an A/C focused on new media.


Jeff Album to VP of public and government affairs, Delta Dental, San Francisco.


Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 7

PRS RAPS O’DWYER (Continued from page 1)

O’Dwyer editorials have charged that PRS “has obviously not reached out to leaders in the black communications community.”

Attempts by Paul to set up a lunch with PRS chair Mike Cherenson, VP-PR Art Yann, Jack O’Dwyer and O’Dwyer editor Kevin McCauley were blocked when Yann said no lunch could take place until O’Dwyer editors demonstrated a “change of heart,” agreed to abide by rules of accuracy and fair reporting, and agreed to stop personal attacks on PRS leaders and staff.

Jack O’Dwyer said McCauley and he would attend any lunch without any pre-conditions.

O’Dwyer Has ‘Personal Vendetta’

Yann responded:

“In pursuing his personal vendetta against PRS, Mr. O’Dwyer has written to the New York State Supreme Court, university administrators and professors, senior executives at companies that employ our board members and volunteers, trade associations, journalists and others.

“He advocates for operational changes that he is unqualified to address; pursues grievances that he could not or would not pursue through the judicial system, and claims unfair competition when, in fact, PRS does not compete with the O’Dwyer organization on any level.

“We believe that the White House—which clearly has more pressing matters to deal with than a private-sector business decision—will dismiss Mr. O’Dwyer’s claims in much the same way that the others have.”

PRS and O’Dwyer Compete ‘Head On’

Jack O’Dwyer responded on the blog ( that O’Dwyer products compete head-on with PRS for many of the same advertisers and for the attention of all PR people including PRS members.

The O’Dwyer website, with eight years of materials searchable by any word or group of words, competes with the PRS site which has limited search capabilities, O’Dwyer said.

Answering the observation that he calls many sources and interested parties on a story, O’Dwyer said that is exactly what PR does—build a stable of allies.

“Some of them side with PRS but with others, our complaints about the Society’s financial reporting and record of only three blacks on the board in 61 years, resonates enough for them to take action,” he said.

O’Dwyer said PRS ignores all criticisms with impunity including criticism of its financial reporting, blocking 80% of its members from running for national office for more than 35 years, and stifling member dissent on its website and in its publications.

He noted that he told the Federal Trade Commission in 1976 about two anti-competitive articles in the PRS “code of ethics” and the FTC forced removal of the articles and made PRS sign a formal consent decree.

“It’s time for government regulators to step in again,” said O’Dwyer.


James Finkle, managing editor of Booz Allen Hamilton, a $4 billion consulting firm that works mainly on government defense and security matters, is 2009 audit committee chair of the PR Society.

The PRS website says that, “Although not required by law,” PRS is “committed to supporting the principles of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.”

SOX calls for the audit chair of a public company to be on the board and to be expert in financial matters. The audit chair is also to be assisted by two other committee members who are on the board, according to the NYSE and NASDAQ, which were assigned to carry out many of the principles voiced in SOX.

The SEC defines a financial “expert” as an investment banker, venture capital investor, stock analyst or finance professional.

PRS refused to discuss this matter or to provide the names of the other audit committee members.

Finkle, who declined comment, is a retired Air Force colonel who served as deputy director of PA at Andrews Air Force Base. He was for 11 years manager of manager of the High Tech Incubator (start-up companies) at Stony Brook University, Long Island, before joining BAH in 2005.

His first job there, said the Long Island Business News Sept. 23, 2005, was helping “intelligence czar John Negroponte break down the barriers of communication among U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies.”

Negroponte, the first Director of National Intelligence, was U.S. representative to the United Nations from 2001-2004 and is now at Yale University.


Dick Tyler, a Fellow of PRS and former president of PRS/LA, fourth largest chapter, said he was disappointed with the Society’s refusal to carry O’Dwyer Co. ads.

Tyler, who was PR director of American Airlines and had posts at Ford Motor and Carl Byoir & Assocs., said he has followed the Newsletter’s coverage of PRS for decades and that, without the NL, he would “totally unaware of many of the issues facing PRS and the industry in general since PRS is certainly not keeping me informed.”

He called the treatment of Jack O’Dwyer by PRS “appalling” and said the O’Dwyer NL is “one of the key publications in the PR industry that should be read by PRS members and non-members alike.”

“The straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said, was PRS VP-PR Arthur Yann saying that the NL had a history of “attacking PRS leaders and…misrepresenting PRS programs, activities and operations.”

Tyler said he would voice his “displeasure” to PRS national.


Dan Bartlett, former communications director for President Bush, is being elevated to president and CEO of Austin-based PR and public affairs powerhouse Public Strategies.

Bartlett is taking the top post over from Clinton White House vet Jeff Eller, a 15-year PS veteran who’s headed the firm since 2006. Eller takes up a vice chairman role atop its D.C. office.

Bartlett assumes the post on March 15. He joined the firm after wrapping up his White House tenure as senior counselor to the president in June 2007.


Internet Edition, March 11, 2009, Page 8




The PR Society was its usual pugnacious self in commenting on our letter to President Obama (page one) requesting government intervention that would force PRS to take our ads and let us join.

PRS VP-PR Arthur Yann said we were pursuing our “personal vendetta” against PRS and that we have contacted just about everyone under the sun including the New York State Supreme Court, university administrators and professors, executives at employers of PRS volunteers, trade associations and journalists.

He should also have included the IRS, FTC, New York State Attorney General, and New York State senators and representatives, to name some of the others we have reached out to.

We learned this approach—building a base of allies—from none other than PRS itself and numerous PR books.

When we first started covering PRS 1968, we noticed glaring anti-competitive articles in the code—barring contingency fees and PR firms or members from pitching each other’s accounts or jobs. It was O.K. to pitch a non-member’s account or job. The message was, join PRS and eliminate a lot of competition.

Then, as now, PRS ignored our criticisms of these articles. But in 1976, the FTC announced a campaign to rid trade associations of code articles that blocked competition.

We called it up and asked if it were interested in looking at the PRS code. We supplied the FTC with a copy of it. Two FTC agents visited PRS in the fall of 1976 and asked for removal of the articles.

PRS leaders said that could only be done by the Assembly which was meeting in November. Counselor delegates were opposed to any changes, arguing that if anyone could pitch anyone else’s account, “chaos” would result. The FTC request was turned down.

Undeterred, the FTC came back early the next year armed with a consent decree that PRS had to sign. PRS suspended the code and the Assembly made the changes at its spring meeting.

What galls us most about the in-your-face attitude of PRS, which dates back to 1980 when Patrick Jackson became president, is that PRS is defaming us and competing against us with our own money. All Americans contribute to PRS since it is a 501/c/6 non-profit and does not pay its normal taxes. If it did, it would have to shell out about $2M of the $5M or so cash/and investments it has on hand (federal/state taxes add up to about 40%).

Jackson immediately booted all the PR pros out of h.q. including COO Rea Smith. She was shifted to the Foundation but exiled to another office and told not to show up at h.q.

Control of PRS went from New York to across the nation by the simple expedient of creating about 50 new chapters, many with 10-25 members, resulting in a total of more than 100. Each of them had one Assembly vote and was just as powerful as a chapter with 99 members. Power left New York never to return.

However, members in the smaller chapters started to complain about the high costs of New York h.q. and twice voted to move h.q. out of the city. The board said it was in control of the affairs of PRS and in retaliation permanently abolished the spring Assembly.

The PRS board has shown in other ways that it does not like criticism.

When service firms organized the PR Services Council in the early 1990s and demanded better traffic flow and even classes at the annual conference, PRS simply abolished the exhibit hall from 1995 to 2000. With no exhibit hall to complain about, the Council folded.

Newly proposed bylaws would abolish the sitting Assembly, thorn in the board’s side for many years. A major board problem is how to occupy the delegates and minimize questioning. In 2008, the solution was 5.5 hours of presentations and programs including a two-hour exercise in “strategic” thinking conducted by an outside consultant. For the second straight year, the board was successful in blocking a “town hall” session at the end of the meeting.

Another new bylaw would require chapter presidents or presidents-elect to be delegates to the new “Leadership Assembly.” Unsurprisingly, these are the very same people to whom PRS gives or has given $500 for a weekend in New York in June for a “Leadership Rally.”

Yann wants to know why we or the other authors didn’t sue back in 1995. Twelve authors collected $6,000 ($500 each) and had a law firm write to PRS asking for negotiations. PRS took the stance that it was a “library” and was merely charging a “loan fee” for distributing packets of copied materials. We said that $55 was a pretty steep “loan fee” (non-member rate) for 50 or 60 pages of materials that were supposed to be returned. We never heard of a “library” with such high charges.

Much of the material (including entire chapters of books by three college professors) was copyrighted by major publishers. None of the publishers showed any interest in helping the authors pursue legal action or even putting pressure on PRS. The authors saw the truth in the old axiom—the strongest union is the union of bosses. Our lawyers warned of a lengthy suit costing hundreds of thousands of dollars which might go nowhere because copyright law was so “murky.” Why this issue hasn’t been studied by some PR professor or PR grad student is a mystery to us.

A shocking piece of information came out last week after months of our seeking it from PRS’s Arthur Yann. 2008 chair Julin did not address any of the 109 chapters last year until he spoke to the Sierra Nevada chapter in Colorado in August. He spoke to one other chapter in September and four in November. One of his first acts last year was cancelling the leadership teleconferences that usually followed board meetings. Leaders, until further notice, were to e-mail him any questions. There was no town hall at the 2008 Assembly which was conducted by Julin. He was one of the most reclusive PRS chairs in our experience. 2009 chair Mike Cherenson is showing similar habits. Yann says Cherenson has spoken to six chapters and will address at least seven more but won’t identify any of them.

--Jack O'Dwyer


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