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Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 1


The board overseeing California’s push for a $40 billion high-speed rail line said it will re-bid its $9M PR contract after the Los Angeles Times raised questions about the winning bidder’s ties to the governor’s office.

Mercury Public Affairs, which is staffed by Schwarzenegger administration alums, won the RFP process and was on the verge of being approved by the board. That body delayed the decision earlier this month after the Times report and pulled the plug on the award last week.

Mercury beat out finalists including sister firm Fleishman-Hillard, fellow Omnicom shop Porter Novelli, incumbent Deutschman Communications Group and Edelman. KAYS Communications, MWW Group, Zooka Creative and Hershey/Cause also pitched but didn’t make the first round of cuts.

The evaluation committee was unanimous in recommending Mercury for the pact. Curt Pringle, chair of the board and member of that committee, said the process should have been more transparent in noting the RFP process will be redone.

The contract was originally slated to begin Sept. 16.


PR veteran Valerie DiMaria has returned to the agency side, taking the director of client strategy & growth job at Peppercom, a newly created post.

Most recently, DiMaria was senior VP and group marketing communications director at Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker. London-based Willis recently put its name on the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Earlier, DiMaria was VP-communications & PA at Motorola, and VP-corporate PR and advertising at General Electric.

At GE, DiMaria worked closely with Peppercom co-founders Steve Cody and Ed Moed on the GE Capital Insurance business.

DiMaria also was vice chairman of GCI and president of its New York office and senior VP at Porter Novelli.

Peppercom ranks No. 14 on O’Dwyer’s ranking of independent PR firms with `08 fees of $13.5M.

Jack Leslie, Weber Shandwick chairman, has been appointed chairman of the U.S. African Development Foundation. The USADF operates in 20 African nations, funding more than 1,500 projects. Leslie was vice chairman of USADF and has been on 13 missions to sub-Sahara countries.


The Livingston Group has cut ties with Libya and its strongman Col. Moammar Gaddafi as he prepares to visit New York to address the United Nations’ General Assembly. LG partner Lauri Fitz-Pegado disclosed the break-up via an email.

LG, earlier this year, inked a $360K annual pact with Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The firm of former Speaker-designate Bob Livingston made news in March as its PR plan to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi’s military takeover of the country was leaked to the press by an opposition group.

More recently, Libya made headlines when it inquired about pitching a Bedouin tent in the leafy New Jersey town of Englewood. That request was greeted by a storm of outrage by nearby residents smarting over Scotland’s release of the bomber of the Pan Am jet over Lockerbie. Thirty-eight of 270 victims came from N.J. The Libyan entourage will stay in a Manhattan hotel.

Brown Lloyd James handled the tent flap.


Brunswick Group is aiding Kraft’s PR in the U.S. and U.K. as the food marketer pursues a $16.7 billion takeover of Cadbury PLC.

Cadbury’s board rejected the Kraft bid, saying it “fundamentally undervalues” the company. Finsbury works with Cadbury.

Analysts are speculating that the offer could spark others from competitors like Nestle and Hershey as high as $20B.

Brunswick Group partners Richard Jacques (U.K.) and Steve Lipin (U.S.) are heading up the work with Kraft.


PR Society members on Sept. 10 rapped with bylaws chair Dave Rickey and PRS chair Mike Cherenson, claiming PRS is opening its doors too wide (“we’re defining ourselves out of existence”) and that PRS leaders are ignoring their criticisms.

“You had a whole series of these calls in the spring and got a lot of good feedback but very little of it ever seems to have been incorporated by you,” said one of the Assembly delegates and members who were on the call. He said the bylaws group’s attitude seems to be “Decide, announce, defend.”

Rickey responded that the bylaws revision is fixed at the moment and can’t be changed until Nov. 7 in San Diego when the Assembly meets.

(Continued on page 7)


Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 2


Bracewell & Giuliani is among firms interested in a potential $1.5M PR pact to make sure that Alaska has input on climate change legislation that emerges from Washington.

Pac/West, which pushed for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, Alaska House, and Nossaman LLP are other interested parties, according to a report in the Alaska Dispatch.

Alaska House is a non-profit that was founded by Alice Rogoff Rubinstein, publisher of Alaska Dispatch.

“The Last Frontier” wants to publicize the global warming law’s impact on tourism, energy development, coastal erosion, future of polar bears, agriculture and fishing, according to John Harris, who chairs Alaska’s legislative council.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin approved the $1.5M PR budget just before she left office.

Former New York City Mayor and Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is a partner at B&G. He visited Alaska in June and met an aide to Harris, reported Alaska Dispatch. Giuliani hosted Palin at a New York Yankees baseball game.

The legislative council is currently structuring a global warming RFP.


Michigan-based architecture firm Corbin Design has posted an RFP for PR pitches through mid-October.

The firm, founded by architect Jeff Corbin in 1976 and based in Travers City, Mich., specializes in wayfinding, the process of designing how people move through spaces. “People get lost. We fix that.” is a slogan for the company, which has alliances in Chicago and Dubai.

Corbin said it has recently handled PR internally by a staffer with a journalism background after working with a Los Angeles PR firm that specialized in design firms. The RFP is particularly frank and outlines several audiences it wants to reach, including healthcare facilities, urban planners, universities, corporations and trade groups in the design space. “We’re ready to turn over all of our marketing and PR logic to date, including editorial calendars and lists of media we’ve already solicited,” the RFP states.

Marketing director Shelley Steele is point of contact ([email protected]).


Cramer Krasselt PR has picked up SCA Tissue’s Tork brand of out-of-home hygiene products after a competitive review.

Wisconsin firm Directions previously handled the account. Tork products include washroom dispensers and bath tissue, as well as paper products for restaurants and food service.

Rob Merritt, senior VP and director of PR for C-K in Chicago, said the firm saw a chance to shift PR away from paper and product messages to focus on more timely issues like hygiene, sustainability and savings.

C-K’s first task is the North American launch of a line of washroom dispensers to be revealed at the ISSA trade show in October.

SCA North America is a $19 billion company.


NASA said it will rely on Medford, Mass., specialty communications firm Focus Group and possibly seek additional PR help as it decommissions a nuclear test reactor at Plum Brook in Sandusky, Ohio, and plans a 2,000-acre wind farm on the site.

Focus Group handles assignments like risk communications, crisis and community relations for technical issues. Government agencies, chemical companies and trade groups are among its clients. NASA is claiming under procurement rules that FG is the “one responsible source” for such work as it has worked on the decommissioning project since 1999.

But other PR work remains. NASA has put out a feeler for firms interested in handling other aspects of its communications needs related to the wind farm project, including media relations and legislative affairs.

The government hopes the wind farm’s turbines (about two dozen) could generate power for the Plum Brook station and potentially the entire Glenn Research Center which encompasses it.


MWW Group has brought in Laura Catalano from Fleishman-Hillard to head its D.C.-based public affairs practice.

The energy and environment pro was a senior VP and partner at Omnicom-owned F-H and retains a SVP title at MWW, a unit of Interpublic.

MWW CEO Michael Kempner noted her experience in counseling government agencies as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Catalano headed F-H’s energy and environment practice handling clients like the American Trucking Association, American Chemistry Council, Shell Oil and the Dept. of Energy. She was previously with Ketchum and earlier was in journalism as chief editor for Inside Washington Publishers, editor for State Environmental Monitor and managing editor for New Fuels Report.


The AARP Foundation, the charitable arm of the AARP juggernaut, has brought in a “social change” expert, Sharyn Sutton, to serve as VP for strategy and communications.

The Foundation supports job training, education campaigns, and services like tax preparation and legal representation for older Americans facing health, consumer and employment issues.

Sutton, who ran her own shop for 13 years counseling non-profits, trade groups and government entities on marketing and strategic planning, is charged with leading social marketing and comms. strategies for the entity.

Earlier, she was executive VP for research and strategic planning at Porter Novelli. [Bill Novelli headed AARP until March of this year.]

Robin Talbert, president of the foundation, noted Sutton’s work in the public and private sector “in initiatives that spark social change.”

She worked in the public sector at the National Institutes of Health and has a PhD and MS in Psychology from the Univ. of Maryland.


Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 3


ABC newsman John Stossel is moving to Fox News and Fox Business Network, where he will have his own one-hour program.

“Stossel” is to feature reports on domestic and international libertarian issues and will air during the fourth-quarter.

Kevin Magee, FBN executive VP, lauds Stossel as “one of the most talented and thought-provoking journalists in the field.”

Stossel, who was co-anchor of ABC News’ “20/20” is leaving a 28-year-career at the Walt Disney-owned broadcaster.

Prior to ABC, Stossel reported on consumer issues for “Good Morning America” and New York City’s WCBS-TV.


Fourteen giants in the media and advertising sector have formed a council focused on measurement systems as the digital era unfolds.

“Given the recent changes in media consumption habits, it is critical for the various constituencies of our industry to agree on the priorities for the next generation of media measurement systems,” Martin Sorrel, CEO of WPP and one of the 14 executives announcing the launch of the Council for Innovative Media Measurement, said in a statement.

Time Warner, Disney Media Networks (ABC, ESPN), Mediabrands (Interpublic), News Corp., Procter and Gamble, and Viacom are among others committed to the effort, which is a challenge to industry standard Nielsen.

Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO of TW, said measurement of consumer interaction with “brands” is becoming more important as content is available across many platforms.

“Comprehensive and accurate measurement will have a direct effect on the continued growth of our industry,” he said.

Page Thompson, CEO of North America for Omnicom Media Group, said the only constant in media today is change. She said the goal of the new group is to ensure that the companies can provide a “context” for measurement.


The New York Times Co., buoyed by improved financial results of the Boston Globe, says it is in no hurry to unload the Bean Town property and its sister paper, Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

That was the message that chairman “Pinch” Sulzberger and CEO Janet Robinson had for nearly 200 workers at Globe headquarters.

The duo thanked staffers for their pay cuts that have helped put the Globe on the road to profitability.

Sulzberger said of the potential sale that “our hand is not being forced” and that the company is not in a position where it must absolutely sell either paper.

The Globe is looking for further cost-cutting opportunities and plans to begin charging for online content by the end of the year.


Meredith Artley, managing editor of the online Los Angeles Times, is joining this month.

She joined the paper in March 2007 from the International Herald Tribune, and was digital development director responsible for both business and editorial operations, according to a memo from Russ Stanton, LAT editor.

Earlier, Artley worked as associate editor of

Stanton credited Artley for more than doubling the LAT’s site traffic in both page views and unique visits.

He expects to name Artley’s successor soon.


Bloomberg LLP is among front-runners of the more than 90 parties that have expressed an interest in taking BusinessWeek off McGraw-Hill's hands. Evercore Partners is shopping the magazine. Bids are due this week.

Bloomberg employs more than 2,000 staffers and more than $6B in annual revenues.

BW is an attractive property for Bloomberg because the financial and data company is trying to reach consumers as Wall Street cuts back, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Warner Bros. Entertainment has established DC Entertainment to maximize the potential of its DC Comics franchise that is home to Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Doomsday and the Green Lantern.

Diane Nelson, who was president of Warner Premiere, will head the unit and work to push DCE characters into films, TV, online and direct marketing platforms and consumer products.

She will continue to manage the Harry Potter property.

Nelson reports to Jeff Robinov, President of Warner Bros., Pictures Group.

Paul Levitz, who was president & publisher of DC Comics since '02, will return to his role as writer and consult DCE. He wrote many of the Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman newspaper strips.

Levitz is excited to focus “on my writing and being able to remain a part of the company I love as it grows into its next stage,” according to his statement.


An investor group called STMG Holdings submitted a $25M bid to purchase the Sun-Times Media Group, which is in bankruptcy.

Chicago businessman James Tyree of Mesirow Financial heads the group looking to own the Chicago-Sun Times and a string of suburban dailies and weeklies.

STMG’s offer is subject to approval by bankruptcy court and wage and benefit cuts by S-TMG staffers.

Jeremy Halbreich, interim CEO of S-TMG, called the Tyree-led group's offer “far and away the most attractive” for the media company.

(Media news continued on next page)


Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 4


AT&T has unveiled AT&T Entertainment, a website that features streaming TV shows and movies via agreements with content providers such as ABC, NBC Universal and CBS Interactive.

Dan York, executive VP of content & programming, calls AT&T Entertainment a “one-stop destination” to watch programming for those with broadband connections. AT&T offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse and AT&T | DIRECTV brands.


Veteran newspaper and magazine journalist Michael Kinsley is joining Atlantic Media to pen a column for the magazine and edit a new digital property slated for 2010.

Kinsley was a founding editor of online magazine Slate, after editing The New Republic and Harper’s, as well as the opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times.

He'll pen a regular column on the media for The Atlantic and serve as editor-in-chief of the new web publication slated for an early 2010 launch.


The Chicago Tribune has named columnist David Haugh as lead sports columnist alongside Rick Morrissey.

Haugh joins Morrissey in penning the paper's In the Wake of the News column. He is the paper's columnist for the NFL’s Chicago Bears and joined the Trib in 2003 from the South Bend Tribune.

The Trib said Haugh is the 17th In the Wake of the News columnist. Morrissey was given the coveted assignment in 2000.

“David is an extraordinary reporter who has the trait every columnist worth their salt possesses: even if you don't agree, you can't stop reading. I look forward to his continued great work in the years to come,” said Mike Kellams, associate managing editor for sports at the paper.


Walter Cronkite’s standard of “honesty, integrity and responsibility” is harder to find in today’s news media, said President Obama at the Sept. 9 memorial for the former CBS anchor/newsman.

The president called it a “difficult time for journalism.” Though the appetite for news is high, newsrooms are closing and serious journalists find themselves without a beat to cover, he added.

He bemoaned that airtime is filled with “instant commentary and celebrity gossip” and softer news rather than the “investigative journalism that Walter practiced.”

The public debate is cheapened and trust falters when the idea of “What happened today” is replaced by “Who won today,” said the president.

Obama believes the downfall of hard news means the nation is not getting a real understanding of the world around it.

Obama said Cronkite knew corporate media outfits are obligated to pursue profits, but felt there also was an “obligation to invest a good chunk of that profit back into news and public affairs.”

Obama questioned whether a modern day Cronkite could flourish today. “In an era where the news that city hall is on fire can sweep around the world at the speed of the Internet, would he still have called to double-check? Would he have been able to cut through the murky noise of the blogs and the tweets and the sound bites to shine the bright light on substance? Would he still offer the perspective that we value? Would he have been able to remain a singular figure in an age of dwindling attention spans and omnipresent media?"

The President is bullish because the American story continues. “If we choose to live up to Walter’s example, if we realize that the kind of journalism he embodied will not simply rekindle itself as part of a natural cycle, but will come alive only if we stand up and demand it and resolve to value it once again, then I'm convinced that the choice between profit and progress is a false one -- and that the golden days of journalism still lie ahead,” said Obama.


Entertainment publicists and Hollywood have lost a legend.

Eighty-seven-year old Army Archerd, who worked at Daily Variety for more than five decades as one of the most respected L.A. columnists, died Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. He died from a rare form of mesothelioma, according to the publication he worked for 52 years. The cancer reportedly was due to his exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Showbiz reporter Archerd was one of the first writers to report on AIDS linked to Rock Hudson, even though the actor's publicists and managers denied it, while Hudson was undergoing treatment for the disease. Archerd was also a star interviewer on the Academy Awards red carpet.

“He set high standards in Hollywood,” said 90-year old publicist Julian Myers. “Archerd used to come by every Friday at Fox Studios and leave with a unique story every time.”

Myers and his wife Patsy were good friends of the family. “I saw him a couple of months ago at the Disney Center and that night he called me to tell me his wife had a stroke, but he appeared to be in good health,” observed Myers.

Archerd started covering entertainment in 1945 and began the "Just for Variety" column in 1953. His last column ran on Sept. 1, 2005, and he continued contributing to the paper and writing a blog for until July 27. He appeared as himself in more than 100 movies and TV shows.

“He was a real gentleman, a man of integrity, quality and a great friend who attended my 90th birthday, despite the LA Marathon traffic he had to fight. Archerd will be missed, and was really a legend in his own field in Hollywood,” said Myers.

Archerd was also popular on radio and TV shows on KNX, KABC, KDAY and KNX-TV. He was the first journalist ever to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. — George S. McQuade III

Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 5


Dallas-based Levenson & Brinker PR assisted client AeroMexico with the crush of media attention as one of its passenger jets was hijacked by a lone individual last week.

A Cancun-to-Mexico City flight was disrupted by a Bolivian man with a phony bomb who said he had to warn people of an impending earthquake on 9/9/09. Jose Flores Pereira, a religious zealot, demanded to speak to the Mexican president while the plane circled Mexico City. He released the 104 passengers when the plane eventually landed and authorities took him into custody shortly after.

Nancy Del Regno at LBPR has served as a spokeswoman for the airline, an ongoing client of the firm. In a statement via the PR firm, AeroMexico praised the work of its crew, noting that passengers were unaware of the incident until after landing.

The hijacking played out live over the cable news channels and drew international media attention.


Qorvis Communications is handling “online reputation management,” strategic PR and media relations for Equatorial Guinea whose leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is slated to address the United Nations’ General Assembly this month.

Freedom House’s Christopher Walker, in the Sept. 9 New York Times, noted that Obiang and Libya’s Qaddafi, who is to speak at the UN on the same day as Obiang, are two of the longest rulers in Africa. They are “distinguished by unparalleled longevity in office and general intolerance for dissent.”

Qorvis is working as a subcontractor to Cassidy and Assocs.


Interpublic has created Octagon PR as an outgrowth of its Octagon sports management and marketing unit and GolinHarris.

Gary Rudnick, managing director of GH/Chicago, is president of OPR. He will coordinate activities with Jeff Shifrin, who is Octagon Marketing North America president.

The partnership has PR, and sports marketing pros in New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to a release.

Octagon has worked with Bank of America, Home Depot, BMW, Allstate, MasterCard and Sprint.

GH has sports experience via work for McDonald’s High School All American Baseball Game, World Cup and Olympics sponsorships. It has worked with Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Alonzo Mourning and Mary Lou Retton.

BRIEFS: Hoggan & Associates, Vancouver, B.C., has joined the Pinnacle Worldwide network of independent PR firms. The 23-year-old firm is headed by Jim Hoggan, who said he looks forward to contributing to the group, especially in the areas of sustainability and social media. Clients include Air New Zealand, Best Buy Canda and Ethical Funds.


New York Area

Laura Davidson PR, New York/Sanctuary Retreats, travel destinations (Africa, Europe, cruise ships) said to be in “harmony” with the surrounding environment; Atlantis, Paradise Island, flagship resort of Kerzner International; Bal Harbour, Florida, Miami Beach shopping and dining location, and Grand Teton Lodge Co., concessioner for Grand Teton National Park, all for PR.

Kellen Communications, New York/RCI Inc., Raleigh-based international association of wall system professionals, for branding, marketing and PR; M. Ecker & Co., multi-trade contracting company, for a year-long PR, marketing and advocacy program.

MS&L, New York/Country Music Association, for entertainment marketing, branding and sponsor partnerships to support country artists, management, music labels and networks/media. The work includes the CMA Awards and CMA Music Festival.

Lotus PR, New York/Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, as AOR for PR for the global competition for undergraduate students who own and operate businesses while attending college or university. The assignment includes branding, media relations and publicity for the 2009 competition.


ConnellyWords, Herndon, Va./FOSE and GovSec, U.S. Law 2010 conferences and exhibitions, as AOR for PR. The work includes PR support for the 2010 events, including media outreach, exhibitor coordination, onsite media management and post-event follow-up. The FOSE event is slated for March 23-25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C.

Howard, Merrell & Partners, Raleigh, N.C./Naughty Bits Software, as AOR for PR including strategic PR and social media marketing efforts.

Ypartnership, Orlando, Fla./Select Registry, network of inns, luxury B&Bs and hotels, as AOR to create an integrated marketing campaign, including PR, promotions and advertising.

Porter Novelli, Dania Beach, Fla./UPS Americas, as AOR for communications strategy and media relations for the Latin America region. VP Rodrigo Garcia-Nieto heads the team.


R/P Marketing PR, Holland, Ohio/Second Chance Trust Fund, for continued marketing comms. for the Donate Life Ohio campaign, an organ and tissue donation effort aimed to sign up Ohioans to its registry. R/P has worked on the campaign for the past two years. Its on pace to hit (and likely surpass) the goal of 800K new registrations by 2011.


MWW Group, Seattle/Hubspan, business integration solutions, for PR to support its place in the business integration and software-as-a-service industries. MWW’s San Francisco office is also working on it.

mPRm PR, Los Angeles/Ascent Media Group, for corporate PR for the provider of creative, technical and content distribution services to the media and entertainment industries. AMG has 40 offices worldwide.

Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 6


Mark Haefeli Productions handled electronic press kit duties for the North American launch of Irish band U2’s 360 tour, which opened in Chicago on Sept. 12.

New York-based MHP supplied broadcast-quality sound bites, performance footage, behind-the-scenes shots and B-roll of fan reactions. The footage was available via Pathfire, YouTube and in hard copy.

The concert tour, which started in Barcelona in late June (MHP also worked on that), kicked off its Americas swing from Soldier Field in the Windy City on Saturday. It runs through the end of October in support of the quartet’s latest album, “No Line on the Horizon.”


The Chief Marketing Officer Council is leading a corporate social responsibility effort to raise money for global charities by letting participants in market research programs direct donations from corporations.

The CMOC, led by Donovan Neal-May, said it is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens of non-profits to create a community of research-ready and receptive panelists who will take part in online surveys and market feedback studies.

By participating in the surveys and research, participants can direct funds from corporate underwriters to causes, charities and foundations.

Ed Martin, global head of insight and new methods at The Hershey Company, is the architect of the plan.

Neale-May said marketers and researchers can add a “powerful altruistic appeal and ensure that market research dollars produce real social value and meaningful improvement” to their images.

Groups participating include the American Red Cross, Malaria No More and Marine Toys for Tots. Info: Supporters and underwriters include Hershey, Procter & Gamble, Ford and MTV.


PR software company Vocus has inked Agway as its latest client.

Agway, which markets lawn, garden, pet products, farm and equine supplies, had used Vocus’ PRWeb distribution services for more than a year before subscribing to the PR management software.

Deborah Rizza, marketing manager at Agway, said the company has not been as focused on PR because of time and resource constraints and sees the software as a organized and simple way to manage its activities.


Nearly half of radio newsrooms are using Twitter and Facebook, according to a survey of newsrooms in the top 50 markets by News Generation. Fifty-six percent said they rely on social media for story leads from so-called citizen journalists.

All of the producers surveyed by the radio PR company said accuracy and credibility are a top priority and noted the work of such amateur journos must be double and triple-checked against reliable sources.

NG advises PR pros to follow stations via social media outlets and read their blogs to hone pitches.



Randee Braham, A/S, Baltz & Company, to Bullfrog & Baum, New York, as senior account director in its hospitality unit. She previously ran her own shop, Pass ItOn PR, for more than four years. She’ll handle clients like Starr Restaurants, Sprinkles and The Taco Truck at B&B.

Jake Lynn, a boutique agency pro who was a press secretary for Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Small Business Services Department, to the American Psychoanalytic Association, New York, as director of public affairs. He directed PA at the N.Y. Historical Society and started out as a producer and reporter at outlets like Dow Jones, CNN and News 12.

Rich Klein, who headed the law firm group at Beckerman PR, to Furia Rubel Communications, Doylestown, Pa., as senior VP and head of the N.Y./N.J. region for the legally savvy PR firm. His longtime client Kenyon & Kenyon has been added to the FRC roster. Klein has worked with FRC’s Gina Rubel over the past five years, including a webcast for Rubel’s 2008 book when he headed Riverside PR.

Mark Ackermann has been named president & CEO of Lighthouse International, the 104-year-old non-profit geared to the visually impaired. The veteran healthcare communicator and fundraiser joined LI on Sept. 14, succeeding acting president Ted Francavilla. Ackermann held various management positions at New York City’s St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center beginning in 1983. He served as chief spokesperson for the hospital during the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and as president of the hospital’s foundation raised $100M in capital funding for expansion such as the Rudolph W. Giuliani Trauma Center. In `07 and `08, Ackermann was special assistant to Edward Cardinal Egan and executive director of the Office of the Papal Visit for the Archdiocese of New York. In that post, he helped arrange eight events for Pope Benedict XVI and coordinated the Pontiff’s visit with state, local and federal officials. LI says more than 60M Americans are at risk of vision loss.

Berna Diehl, an independent consultant and former senior A/E at Edelman, to Jones Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., as a senior VP in its healthcare unit. She is a former comms. manager for the American Heart Association and started out at Capitoline/Manning, Selvage & Lee.


Carmichael Lynch and PR unit Carmichael Lynch Spong have revamped their business development units. Curtis Smith adds the director of business development title for the overall agency. Chris Nilsen has been upped to manager of bizdev for CL. Chelsea DeSousa now supports bizdev for CLS and leads overall agency communications. Doug Spong, president of both the ad and PR units, said the changes were important to realign the “crucial” department.


Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 7

PRS MEMBERS RAP (cont’d from page 1)

Leaders have asked members to send in possible amendments so they can be considered. Next bylaws teleconferences are Oct. 1.

Mike Cherenson, responding to the criticism that “communications” is equated with “PR” in the bylaws and that only “communications” is mentioned in the preamble, said that PRS should be “a lighthouse, a beacon helping people with their careers,” and not a “fort.”

“Are we afraid of what they can do to us or what we can do for them?” he asked. He said PR could impact the “entire communications space” and “change the communications environment…make them better.”

“I see this as an opportunity to improve the entire communications community,” he said. One delegate said a member told her, “I might as well join the International Assn. of Business Communicators, it’s cheaper.”

Cherenson announced that proxy forms will be sent out Oct. 12.

Members have challenged the ethics and legality of the use of proxies by Assembly delegates.

Parliamentarian Michael Malamut of Boston, who is also a lawyer, has written extensively about the use of proxies in organizations, citing a case where proxies were barred because the group had a long history of not using them. While New York State law says “members” have the right to vote by proxy, the Assembly is technically a board of directors and under common law directors cannot vote by proxy.

When Central Michigan in 2006 proposed that the Assembly be the supreme authority in PRS governance, PRS leaders argued that the Assembly was a board of directors and director insurance would have to be purchased for all 300 delegates.

PRS first used proxy votes in 2005 when the issue of proxies was being debated. Proxies were allowed in a vote that included 81 proxy votes or about one-third of the total of 240 that were cast. Present were 159 delegates.

In the legal case Frankel v. Kissena Jewish Center, the court held that, along with other factors including the history of non-use of proxies, the use of proxies was “unfair.”

Journalists May Not Be up to PRS Code

Cherenson said the PRS code is for PR professionals and he does not see how journalists can sign it because they may “publish” what they hear and may not “safeguard” confidences.

Said Cherenson: “A reporter, for example, might have a difficult time signing our code of ethics because, for example, a reporter might say ‘I’m not going to keep your confidences. I’m going to publish what I hear’ and so I’m thinking they may not be able to join because they might not be able to adhere to our code of ethics. So while they may be communications professionals, that’s one group, for example, because our code is written specifically for PR professionals, they may be a communications discipline that just won’t be able to join. So if you read it through, if I am a reporter, can I sign this code of ethics? I don’t see how I could. Not that they’re unethical. They abide by a different code.”

A PRS member then commented that an “unethical” reporter could sign the code. Cherenson said that was “another issue.”

Copy ABA, AMA, AICPA, Say Members

Members on the calls said PRS should copy the American Bar Assn., American Medical Assn. and American Institute of CPAs. All have strict definitions of who can be a member, they said.

Rickey said other associations were studied but the members said the practices of the above three were being ignored.

All three have Houses of Delegates that are conducted by the delegates themselves with each house having “supreme authority” to set policies for the boards which carry them out. All three also defer about half of their dues income while PRS only defers the part of dues income earmarked for subscriptions.

With dues totaling about $5M, PRS’s “net unrestricted assets” might be cut to below $2 million.

Rickey Pleads for “Open Minds”

Rickey said leaders, in opting for a complete re-write of the bylaws, wanted to “open all the doors and see what we can do better.” He said the aim was to take everyone “out of the comfort zone.” Members should have an “open mind” about the changes, he said.

Critics, however, have called the proposed bylaws a “power grab” by the board and especially the executive committee (four top officers and immediate past chair).

They noted that:

—Directors could serve four years in a row and then serve another five as officers.
—Only someone who served as a director could be an officer.
—EC operates as full board between quarterly board meetings.
—A board member would head the nominating committee.
—Districts could be deprived of representation on the board which would only have “at-large” directors.
—The board could create new categories of members and Assembly delegates without Assembly clearance.
—The board (or EC between board meetings) could expel a member at its “sole discretion.”
—The 25 or more national committee chairs, usually appointed by the national chair, would join the Assembly (which already has 17 national directors, 20 section heads and 10 district heads).
—The board could boost dues between annual Assembly meetings.
—Volunteers could be paid for “services actually rendered.”

Three Districts Oppose At-large Directors

A delegate said that the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and North Pacific districts have submitted an amendment that removes the at-large proposal.

A bid to have only five district directors on the national board was defeated at the 2007 Assembly when only about half of the delegates voted for it. A two-thirds majority was needed.


Internet Edition, September 16, 2009, Page 8




Two PR Society teleconferences last week designed to air member opinions on the new bylaws were only a stab at that.

They proved the criticism of bylaws committee member Cynthia Sharpe last February that “face-to-face” meetings were necessary.

Sharpe quit the committee when it refused to change its modus operandi.

A PRS governance e-group posting Sept. 4 by Sharpe questioned a “deliberative process conducted via e-mail, phone calls and blog posts.”

Bylaws chair Dave Rickey, answering a question Sept. 10 on a bylaws teleconference, said he would “sure like to see more people” on the e-group and that it is “somewhat klunkey but it’s still our best opportunity as a group to have conversations on an ongoing basis.”

That is just total nonsense and an excuse that won’t fly for ducking members as well as the press so far this year.

Audiotapes and transcripts of these two sessions should be made available immediately to the membership.

An even bigger flaw, and one that invalidates all the work of the bylaws committee, is that 10 of the 11 original members are APR when only 20% of PRS members are APR.

PRS chair Mike Cherenson himself said on one of the teleconferences last week that “We can’t have 20% of the members telling the other 80% how we’re going to govern this organization…we have to make it more democratic, more successful.”

Well? Why didn’t you and other leaders start with the bylaws committee?

Leaders hogged the mike at the start of the conferences for far too long (16 minutes in the a.m. session and 22 minutes in the p.m. session) and their explanations of radical changes defied logic.

Pressed on how a 100% ad copywriter could be acceptable as a member, 2007 chair Jeff Julin said that if the purpose of the ads was building a relationship, then that ad campaign should be “welcomed as a powerful PR tool” and those who do such campaigns should be acceptable as members.

“If you’re defining PR as that big umbrella of relationship building” then ads can be seen as a “powerful PR tool,” he said.

The questioner was not impressed, saying, “You have just exactly expressed my concern.” She said that in her experience the ad side “thought everything was advertising and very little was left for PR.”

Proposed rules would admit anyone in “PR or communications” as long as they abide by the PRS code and bylaws.

A member said a friend told her, “I might as well join the International Assn. of Business Communicators, it’s cheaper.”

Cherenson, arguing that special skills rather than geography should determine who is on the board, noted that there is no one on the board who handles investor relations.

“We’ve completely lost that function,” he said.

Cherenson does not realize what a mouthful he said.

Virtually all IR pros went to the National Investor Relations Institute decades ago.

We don’t think any IR pro wants to be identified with PRS financial reporting since it is not up to snuff (including its refusal to defer dues income).

Another piece of evidence is lack of a major CPA firm to audit its books (when it once used Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche).

PRS says it’s “committed” to Sarbanes-Oxley but that law requires an audit committee head who is a financial expert and who is on the board. PRS’s audit chair is neither.

PRS refuses to discuss any part of its audit with reporters. This stonewalling is the opposite of good IR practice.

The reason PRS often can’t find even one director to serve in a district (whose memberships average about 2,000 including 400 APRs) is that the board has a reputation of being a rubber stamp for the staff and executive committee. Why sign up for two years of silence and frustration?

If PRS had a good reputation, top people would be flocking to it. It would not have to resort to the desperate move of trying to eliminate district representation on the board.

Sullying its name further this year is the adamant refusal to nominate even one African-American to the all-white board. Veteran member Ofield Dukes, an African-American with close ties to the Obama Administration, was rejected by the nomcom. Offered a non-voting seat on the 2010 board (equivalent to back-of-the-bus), he rightly refused to take it.

One member complained Sept. 10 that numerous suggestions were given on bylaws conference calls in the spring but few were ever used.

Under the leaders’ definition, just about any activity can be labeled “PR.”

Cherenson, taking up the subject of ad people as members, said PRS should not be afraid of taking in new members just because they are from advertising or other fields.

He said PRS should embark on a mission “to improve the entire communications community.”

Don’t ask what these new types of members can do for PRS, but ask what PRS can do for them, he said.

This is “Cloud Nine,” wishful thinking.

Cherenson went off on a fugue about the ethics of reporters and concluded they have different ethics from PR people. He doubts they could sign off on the PRS code.

Ignoring the many cases of reporters who have gone to jail to protect sources, he feels some reporters “might have a difficult time signing our code” because they may not “safeguard confidences” and may “publish” something that compromises a source.

Said Cherenson: “So if you read it through, if I am a reporter can I sign this code of ethics? I don’t see how I could. Not that they’re unethical. They abide by a different code.”

The code of reporters is based on honesty and fair dealing just like the PRS code. We don’t think reporters make a habit of “burning” their sources.

We do heartily agree with one thing that Cherenson said in relation to loosening requirements for board and officers: “We can’t have 20% of the members telling the other 80% how we’re going to govern this organization…we have to make it more democratic, more successful.”

The entire bylaws re-write process, from the appointment of an 11-member task force, 10 of whom are APR with six from the South, to the widely spaced teleconferences that bar rank-and-file members from taking part or even listening to them, is deeply flawed.

It’s inexcusable that the teleconferences are not carried live on the PRS website, archived for listening by members, and transcripts provided.

Also inexcusable are failure to release IRS Form 990 for 2008 showing legal expenses and COO Bill Murray’s compensation; refusal to post the names of the 2009 Assembly delegates (who were elected last Dec. 1); refusal to supply the transcript of the 2005 Assembly that had an extensive debate on proxies (and subsequent Assemblies), and refusal to say anything about audiocasting the historic 2009 Assembly.

--Jack O'Dwyer


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