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Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 1


The planning entity for 13 counties on Texas’ Gulf Coast plans to hire as many as four agencies to handle its PR account supporting community and environment planning efforts.

The Houston-Galveston Area Council has put out an RFP and said it plans to execute a two-year contract with two year-long options. Work runs from logo design and Internet marketing to media relations, press release writing and event planning. Budget is $300K per year.

The council in May awarded a $352K clean air PR pact to Vollmer PR after a review. That contract is funded with federal dollars.

Proposals for the latest RFP are due by Oct. 19 with a Nov. 17 target date for approval.

The RFP can be accessed online via HGAC’s website:


Huntsworth is helping to bankroll the international growth of hi-tech powerhouse Atomic PR in a 50/50 venture inked between the London and San Francisco-based shops.

Atomic PR has opened in London as the first of four planned offices. Sandeep Kalsi, a 20-year PR vet and former board member of Next Fifteen Communications, has been recruited as managing director of European operations for Atomic Communications Holdings. He played a major role in the global expansion of Next 15's Text 100 unit, and has worked on blue-chips like Microsoft, Cisco, SAP and Symantec.

Andy Getsey, CEO of Atomic, told O'Dwyer's that each firm is contributing capital and executive oversight to the new venture.

He stresses that Atomic, which ranked No. 10 on O'Dwyer's listing of `08 technology firms with fees of $7.7M, remains an independent shop.

“Staying independent while gaining additional and internationally experienced financial, executive and logistics support is the reason we entered into the agreement,” Getsey said via email.

Getsey says Atomic's technology client base is 1/3 publicly traded companies, 1/3 mid-sized firms and 1/3 start-ups.

Huntsworth which is headed by Lord Chadlington, who under the name Peter Gummer developed Shandwick into an international powerhouse, is in the midst of a major overhaul that will have its Grayling unit emerge as a Top 5 global brand in the ranks of Edelman, Waggener Edstrom, APCO Worldwide and Ruder Finn.


On The Scene Productions, a Los Angeles based broadcast PR company, told staffers Sept. 30 that the company could not meet payroll and was expected to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy ending a 26-year run.

Stunned employees were told around noon that they wouldn't be paid for the last two weeks, said senior VP and creative director Jim Bowling.

“Basically the staff worked the last two weeks for free,” he said. “There was no warning. Not a lot of answers or solutions, but a lot of apologies.”

Jeff Holland and David Woodward, private equity partners of OTSP, broke the news to the company’s staff.

OTSP was founded in 1983 by Sally Jewett, a director for “Entertainment Tonight,” and Stacie Hunt, a broadcaster, as the Reagan administration deregulated satellite usage and opened the door for satellite media tours and distribution of VNRs and other PR video.

Jewett and Hunt took on private equity partners in July of 2006 and the founders stepped aside in June of 2008 with the appointment of Starz Home Entertainment exec Madeline Di Nonno as president and CEO.


Porter Novelli has named Dr. Barbara DeBuono its chief medical officer and global director of public health and social marketing. Her mission is to help PN clients improve their “health literacy.”

DeBuono had been executive dir./public health and government at Pfizer, managing public-private partnership programs in health policy, education and research. Before joining Pfizer in August 2000, DeBuono was chief executive of N.Y.-Presbyterian Healthcare Network and EVP of the N.Y.-Presbyterian Healthcare System.

She was New York State’s health commissioner during the administration of George Pataki.


PR Society leaders on two teleconferences Oct. 1 beat back repeated demands from members for details on how elections would take place if this power is shifted from the Assembly to the entire membership of 22,000.

The members said they did not want to give up their right to elect board and officers without details on how new elections would be conducted.

The “entire membership,” as defined in the proposed bylaws, can be represented by a quorum of 500 members voting “in person or by proxy.” If passed, this would be the first time PRS bylaws ever used the word “proxy.”

(Continued on page 7)


Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 2


Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Assocs. is working to build international political support for Honduras’ interim president Roberto Micheletti who seized power in a June 28 coup.

The four-month contract of the Omnicom unit runs through December 31 and is worth $293K payable in three installments.

CLS&A, according to an English translation of the Spanish-language contract, is to handle the current “special political situation to implement a strategic communications plan for better positioning of the Government before the international public.”

Beside the nearly $300K in fees, CLS&A is entitled to $10K for travel allowances, $20K for web development, $30K to mobilize communication experts in other countries and $12K for administrative costs.


The federal government is doling out millions of dollars in funds for states to bolster preparation against the swine flu and many are taking advantage of the bounty to fund public education efforts, resulting in an unexpected bounty for PR and marketing firms.

Illinois handed a $90K contract paid for with federal funds to Chicago-based Jasculca/Terman and Associates on Sept. 24 to create a PR push aimed at prevention of seasonal and swine flu. “This emergency procurement is urgent and critical to public health and safety,” the state said in awarding the contract.

Utah was ahead of the pack when it released an RFP in August for a firm to create a campaign on a budget of $300K highlighting symptoms of swine flu and information about the pending vaccine. Salt Lake City-based Penna Powers Brian & Haynes picked up that pact.

The Milwaukee Health Dept. is also conducting a review for a more modest $40K, four-month education push after producing an in-house flu campaign last year. 2-Story Creative won that review in August against finalists Weiss & Co. and Mosaic Communications.

New Jersey got $40M from Uncle Sam and plans to use part of a $7M set-aside for public education.

Even the U.S. territory of Guam has an RFP out for an H1N1 media campaign.

In all, the federal government has made $260M available for the public health response to the virus, including aid to hospitals.

And the U.S. isn’t alone in its prolific H1N1 spending. Ontario, Canada, is conducting a $2.6M advertising and PR blitz intended to reach every household in the Canadian province.

Vaccines are beginning to be shipping by several drug makers this week as the flu season begins.


The Brandman Agency has landed North American PR duties for Qantas, Australia’s airline, in a competitive pitch.

Joe Aston, a corporate communications staffer, declined to reveal other bidders for the business because “I don’t want to be discourteous to the unsuccessful tender participants.”

He said Brandman “really owns the space we operate in and are very confident they are going to greatly enhance our brand presence in the U.S.”

Qantas has been flying to the U.S. for 55 years. It kicked off A380 jet service from Los Angeles to Melbourne and Sydney last year.

Melanie Brandman is a native of Australia. Her shop services clients such as Barbados Tourism Authority, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Orient-Express Hotels and Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.

More airline news from “Down Under:” Fleishman-Hillard has picked up the British Airways business.


A U.S. District Judge has dismissed WPP’s suit against Spot Runner, charging that digital advertising agency with running a “pump and dump” operation.

The Irish ad/PR combine, which invested $10M in SR three years ago, alleged management aggressively hawked shares to new investors and then sold them big chunks of secondary shares. WPP believes those sales weren’t disclosed as mandated by securities law.

Judge Percy Anderson ruled WPP charges were based on a misunderstood statement by SR’s general counsel Peter Huie.

WPP had asked Huie if investors were selling shares in a specific follow-up offering. He replied that no shares were sold by investors in that offering, but did not disclose information of earlier sales.

Anderson ruled that WPP may have misread Huie’s email, “but such a misunderstanding cannot form the basis for a claim.”

WPP plans to amend its filing and push on with the case. The deadline for a new complaint is Oct. 12.

In a statement, WPP says it strongly believes in the merits of its claims and plans “to take full advantage of this opportunity to replead.”

SR says it is eager to put the legal matter behind it.

Interpublic, CBS, Legg Mason Capital Management and Lachlan Murdoch, son of News Corp. chief Rupert, are among investors in SR.


The “sleepy playground” of Huntsville, Ontario, slated to feel the global spotlight of the G8 summit in June 2010, is planning an RFP for PR services to make the most of the attention drawn by the confab at the Deerhurst resort.

The town council’s economic development committee is preparing an RFP for the assignment which could be released within the next few weeks. The town is banking on federal funds to pick up the tab.

The resort itself is handling PR in-house, said Anne White, director of communications for Deerhurst. She told O’Dwyer’s that there aren’t any plans to work with an outside agency for the G8, but it does have the option to contract agency resources through its hotel management company.

The Toronto Globe and Mail earlier this year called Huntsville, a town of 18,500, a “sleepy playground for the privileged” that fits Canada’s search for the ideal G8 locale – “idyllic, secluded and easy to secure.”


Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 3


New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman has entered the bidding war for McGraw-Hill’s BusinessWeek.

The real estate mogul joins Bloomberg, Zelnick Media, Platinum Equity Partners, owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Open Gate Capital, purchaser of TV Guide, in the BW sweepstakes.

BW lost $43M in `08, and is expected to top that deficit this year. Ad pages are down 35 percent this year.

Zuckerman told the New York Post that he submitted a bid because he is a “junkie for journalism.”

He believes he could turn BW around by running it “differently and financially more efficiently than they do.”

Zuckerman concedes that Bloomberg is the front-runner for BW and the “most natural home” for the publication.

The Boston Properties chief owns U.S. News & World Report, which converted from a weekly to monthly. He also once owned The Atlantic and Fast Company.


The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post will part ways in their 47-year news service partnership at the end of the year.

The Times is turning to a new service owned jointly by parent Tribune Company and McClatchy Company.

The Post is aligning with Bloomberg to kick off a global news service to offer content from both providers to newspapers, websites and other subscribers.

That service is to be called The Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News.

The deal makes the Post’s entire stable of news content available in real time via Bloomberg.

Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Post, said the combine “brings together The Post’s vast expertise on politics and policy news in Washington with Bloomberg’s highly regarded global financial, economic and political news franchise.”


Jim Willse, editor of Newark’s Star-Ledger for the past 15 years, is retiring next month. Kevin Whitmer, managing editor will take the post.

Willse joined the S-L in `95, shifting from Internet projects for parent company Advance Newspapers.

Don Newhouse, president of AP, praised 65-year-old Willse for serving the “profession brilliantly and with dedication.”

He also “nurtured a successor who mirrors his ethics, energy and values.”

Whitmer, 42, signed on at the S-L in `96. Prior to reaching the ME slot, he was sports editor, and supervised coverage of the financial section and Sunday paper.

He worked with Willse at the New York Daily News.

Willse, who wrote for the Associated Press and was city editor of the San Francisco Examiner, will become a visiting professor at Princeton University.


The appellate unit of the New York State Supreme Court has dismissed the $70M lawsuit lodged by Dan Rather against CBS.

The ex-anchor sued CBS, claiming that it broke his contract and unfairly besmirched his reputation.

The court voted unanimously to dismiss the last two (breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty) of the original five charges filed by Rather, who worked for CBS for 44 years.

Rather, who has spent at least $2M of the case filed in 2007, retains the option to appeal.


Deanna Brown is exiting as president of Scripps Networks Digital unit to become COO at Federation Media Publishing.

Her goal is to help transform the display ad network into a state-of-the-art media and publishing company.

Brown was GM of Yahoo Media Group’s lifestyles unit and VP at AOL’s life management operations before joining Scripps to oversee brands such as HGTV and the Food Network.

She co-founded CondeNet, the online division of Conde Nast, in `95.


Doug Kiel, president of Journal Communications and CEO of Journal Broadcast Group, said he’ll retire on Dec. 27 at the end of the fiscal year. Kiel said he plans to start his own venture outside of Milwaukee, where JC owns several media properties like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 33 radio stations and 13 TV stations.

Steven Smith, chairman and CEO, is taking over Kiel’s leadership role for the “foreseeable future,” the company said in a statement.

Kiel had been at JC since 1987.


The Texas Tribune, the non-profit online media group based in Austin, has received $750K in grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Houston Endowment.

Evan Smith stepped down as president and editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly in August to launch the Tribune.

The foundation money will be earmarked to cover stories across a broad range of platforms such as text, audio, video, blogs and databases.


Former First Lady Laura Bush will be the keynote speaker at More Magazine’s Reinvention Convention Oct. 5 in New York.

The event, which expects about 500 attendees, aims to help women “transform” their lives in areas like health, finance, careers and style.

MCNBC’s Mika Brzezinski is emcee and other speakers include Nora Ephron, reporters for “Today” and the Washington Post, and More editor-in-chief Lesley Jane Seymour, among others.

(Media news continued on next page)


Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 4


Joe Skeel, executive director, Society of Professional Journalists, has announced a six-month waiver of the $72 dues to members who have not renewed because of "financial hardship" or because they lost full-time jobs and have not found a new one.

The 8,145-member organization was founded in 1909 as the Sigma Delta Chi fraternity. Operating budget is $1.7 million. Eleven staffers are listed on the website.

Skeel, in an announcement on, said that “members are the lifeblood of our organization” and it has been “painful to watch as many of our friends, perhaps you, have lost their jobs as the result of the economy and dramatic industry changes.”

Members can download a form and submit it to h.q.

Skeel said only ten members have opted for the waiver.

UNITY, Journalists of Color, McLean, Va., said its “Layoff Tracker” project has found that 45,599 news industry jobs have been lost since Jan. 1, 2008 including 35,885 lost since Sept. 15, 2008. It says that “sharp spikes” in layoffs take place during periods when quarterly financial reports from public media companies are due.

UNITY is urging media companies to redouble their retraining efforts to assist staff in making the transition to “the new media world.”

Onica Makwakwa, executive director, said the news industry started losing jobs long before the economy dipped last year.


The Los Angeles Times has made two key online appointments in the wake of its redesigned website launch.

Sean Gallagher has been named managing editor, online. He joined in 2006 as associate editor and was named managing editor in 2007.

Gallagher is charged with working across the newsroom and masthead in tandem with print chief Jon Thurber. He is a five-year veteran of

Lisa Fung, a 21-year veteran of the Times, has been named online arts and entertainment editor.

The post includes oversight of sections including Calendar, The Envelope and Company Town, as well as several blogs. She’ll also work on developing new online properties.

Times editor Russ Stanton said Fung is “as comfortable within the realm of social media as she is with Wagner, American Idol and Warhol.”


The Wisconsin Tourism Federation has shuffled its name to produce an alternative acronym to WTF, its previous initials shared with a profane Internet interjection.

The Federation’s logo was lampooned by the design critique website in July and the group decided to change its moniker shortly after that.

The WTF is now transitioning to become the TFW – the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin.


Entertainment freelancers gave tips on what they’re looking for and how they are surviving in the rough economy to an Entertainment Publicist Professional Society panel Sept. 19.

Libby Slate has more than 300 articles to her credit including pieces in the Los Angeles Times, TV Guide, Hollywood Reporter Magazine, Disney Magazine, Soap Opera Digest, Los Angeles and Skating, the U.S. Figure Skating Assn.’s magazine. “I do features in front of the book, profiles and a lot of behind the scenes,” said Slate. “I’m not always interested in the star of a movie, show or play, but the most interesting story.”

Slate writes a lot about what production designers are doing. She recently penned a story about the “Tonight Show” set. “I also did a story on the set of ‘Doll House,’ so it's not the technical aspect like editing, but it's the artistic part of the craft.”

Susan Hornik contributes to Good Housekeeping, First for Women, Modern Bride, Your Prom, Stylehive, Twist, Maxim and MomLogic. “Things are not always in front of you so you have to stay ahead of the game, even if it means new media like Twitter, because you never know who will be your next boss,” she said.

Hornik says magazines are paying more attention to their websites, so she has to think out of the “proverbial box.” For example, she inquired about receipts from the snack bar and found that intermission bars and snacks were bringing $1 million a year.

Sue Factor, who once was George Clooney’s publicist, gets her “best interviews in the restrooms.” She writes for the New York Daily News, Liz Smith, Star Ledger, Women’s Day, USA Today, People, Los Angeles Times, New York Post and Entertainment Weekly. “I look for the celebrity client,” said Factor. “I also look for the story that no one has talked about. Underneath the temple is more gold, you just have to look for it.”

“Know your publication,” said Janice Rhosalle Littlejohn, whose work appears regularly in Multichannel News, TV Guide and Emmy magazine. “I am actually flattered if a publicist calls and knows what I write about.” But she doesn’t like cold pitches. “I don’t mind a phone pitch, but not a harassing call,” she said, adding “most editors and writers don't like the cold calls anymore.”

“I often get calls from publicists saying, ‘I have this wonderful client.’ Well, they all are, so tell me what's so great about them, and why they would be appropriate for whatever publication I write for.”

Littlejohn said she did a lot of behind the scenes work for the Associated Press. “However, the unfortunate thing about the economic downturn is that the AP is no longer using freelance work,” she said.

She plugged MediaBistro as a place to get a handle on what is going on in the business. "It is important to keep up with the stuff because my editors are moving from place to place and they take us with them," she said.

— George S. McQuade III


Janice Littlejohn:
[email protected]

Libby Slate:
[email protected]

Susan Hornik:
[email protected]

Sue Factor:
[email protected]

Flo Selfman:
[email protected]

Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 5


Lippert/Heilshorn & Assocs. handles investor relations duties for Sequenom Inc., the company rocked by news that it botched handling of scientific data for a once-thought-to-be promising treatment for Down syndrome.

Sequenom’s stock fell 37 percent last week to $3.60 following the board’s decision to fire its CEO Harry Stylli, senior VP research & development Elizabeth Dragon and accept the resignation of CFO Paul Hawran.

An independent counsel retained by the board determined that employees failed to provide adequate supervision. The absence of effective protocols and controls led to test data and results for the Trisomy 21 program that included “inadequately substantiated claims, inconsistencies and errors.”

That situation led to the inclusion of unsubstantiated data reported as facts in press releases and other public statements.

Sequenom says “it is no longer relying on, and the public should no longer rely on, any of the previously announced test data and results for the company's noninvasive prenatal test for Trisomy 21.”

Pure Communications handles media for San-Diego-based Sequenom.


D.C. consultant Kharma Finley-Wallace is mounting the PR defense for the author of a children’s book on Barack Obama amid a budding controversy fueled by conservative media over a video of school children reciting a song about the president.

The author, Charisse Carney-Nunes, who wrote “I Am Barack Obama,” was a featured guest at a New Jersey school in February when a teacher led students in two songs that contained the lyrics “Barack Hussein Obama/He said that all must lend a hand/To make this country strong again,” and “Hooray, Mr. President, we honor your great plans/To make this country’s economy number one again.”

Right-leaning media and commentators have pounced on a YouTube video of the students singing the song to mount criticism of Obama’s back-to-school speech to students earlier this month.

Finley-Wallace runs HoverFly Media in D.C. and is distancing Carney-Nunes from the song’s composition while decrying the political charge that has been put into a literacy and black history event.


The U.K.’s Buchanan Communications and South Africa’s Russell and Associates are working with London-based Petra Diamonds on the company’s discovery of a massive 507.44-carat white diamond.

The gem, valued at around $20M, was recovered on Sept. 24 from the Cullinan mine in South Africa, which the independent company bought from mining giant De Beers and where the world’s largest diamond was found in 1905 at 3,106 carats.

The latest finding has drawn international attention.

Buchanan picked up financial communications duties for Petra earlier last month in a review after it previously worked with Hogarth PR.



Nashville and surrounding Davidson County are dangling an RFP for a five-year PR contract to support the Metro Arts Commission.

The work includes advocating the arts as an industry in the Music City, in addition to website support and “creating positive awareness” of the commission and its programs, according to the RFP.

The Commission operates on a multimillion-dollar budget and provides grants to artists and funds public installations as it works to creative a thriving arts community.

Proposals are due Oct. 15 and a firm must have a Nashville office to pitch.


New York Area

Susan Magrino Agency, New York/Sandals Resort International, for PR for their annual WeddingMoon program with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. MSLO is a client of the firm.

Stanton PR & Marketing, New York/Huntsman Gay Global Capital, middle market private equity firm which closed its first fund topping $1.1 billion in July, as AOR. The work includes media relations, executive visibility, thought leadership development, transaction announcements and investor comms.

Stern + Associates, Cranford, N.J./Gregory Unruh, sustainability expert and professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management; Catalent Pharma Solitions, drug development and delivery solutions, and Nancy Koehn, Harvard Business School professor and author.

m&j marketing communications, New Providence, N.J./, life stage media marketing and consumer insights. m&j specializes in marketing to “Boomer” women.

Shorey PR, Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Lemery Greisler LLC, for a PR campaign to boost the business law firm’s Saratoga and Albany offices.


Lois Paul & Partners, Boston/Avocent, IT operations management solutions, as AOR to broaden corporate visibility and brand awareness among CXO purchasers of IT services.

Backbay Communications, Boston/Grant Thornton LLP’s public policy and capital markets groups, for PR services, including media relations, event support and strategic communications. The firm already handles GT’s private equity group.

French/West/Vaughan, Raleigh, N.C./John Gidding, design guru, as AOR for the ABC Family and HGTV personality.

The Zimmerman Agency, Tallahassee, Fla./Cooper Tire, No. 4 U.S. tire maker, for PR and social media.


tbd, Bend, Ore./Old Mill District, for launch of a new website,

Allen & Caron, Irvine, Calif./National Technical Systems, engineering and testing services for several markets, for investor relations and corporate communications.

Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 6


Dave Armon, a 20-year veteran of PR Newswire who stepped down in December, has re-entered the PR services arena with a top post at PR software developer dna13.

Armon has taken the role of vice chairman for the Ottawa-based company, and will stay in New York to serve dna13 in a board and “chief evangelist” role.

Founder Chris Johnson is stepping back from his CEO duties and noted dna is “in good hands with Dave Armon” as it moves beyond an entrepreneurial venture.

The software company has secured nearly $8M in venture funding since its initial round in May 2008. It has worked through alliances in the past with PRN and Canadian affiliate C&W Group so Armon said he was familiar with the company.

The 46-year-old executive said he met with Johnson in the spring and told the CEO his next role would likely be with a “disruptive” digital company in the media space: “He said, ‘I have just the right place for you.’”

Armon said he’ll be spending time with both dna’s products and its channels and partners to grow the company. He said its “listening platform” is the “superstar” of the PR software. “So we’re going to spend time making sure people know how powerful that really is,” he said.

Armon, a former journalist, started out in PRN’s Cleveland office and rose through the ranks to become president of the Americas in 2000 and chief operating officer of the company in 2003. He oversaw both major acquisitions by PRN and a company-wide consolidation into two operations centers in 2006.

In the PR software space, Armon said he doesn’t see any dominant players that dna13 will target as it grows. “I see a lot of green field, a lot of pasture that is ready to be farmed,” he said.


Medialink Worldwide has promoted Christopher Hansen to VP and executive producer.

The eight-year veteran has worked on the broadcast and digital PR company’s biggest accounts and recently nabbed a Telly and WorldFest Remi Award for a video project for OnStar 100K Automatic Crash Response.

Hansen was a producer for the “Today” show and “Good Morning America.” Earlier, he was a contributing editor to Men’s Journal and produced TV and radio commercials.


Cision said last week that it has completed the divestment of its UK Print Monitor operation and also sold off its Lithuania subsidiary to Baltic News Service, part of Alma Media Group.

Cision’s operation in Lithuania posted revenue of SEK 9M (about $1.3M) in 2008 with 43 staffers handling monitoring and analysis services.

The sale price was SEK 6M ($852K).

The company said the sale of its UK Print Monitor operation to Durrants Ltd was completed on Sept. 30.

Cision says the sale will return its U.K. operation to profitability. 2008 revenue for the PM operation was 8.5M British Pounds, or about $13.5M.



John Ford, VP-communications at Blackstone Group, to Walek & Associates, the New York-based IR/financial comms. firm. Ford handled PR, advertising, internal & external communications at the $100B private equity firm. Earlier, he was senior VP and comms. chief for JP Morgan’s European operations.

Catherine Fisher, senior VP/corporate comms. at Revlon, to Ann Taylor Stores Corp., New York, in the new post of VP of corporate communications amid a corporate makeover for the women's fashion retailer. Fisher handled external and internal comms., as well as the beauty/cosmetics company’s charitable initiatives. At Taylor, her duties include corporate media relations, internal corporate communications, and the company's philanthropic initiatives. The 55-year-old, New York-based Ann Taylor has expanded a strategic restructuring program this year which began in January 2008 to boost its bottom line at a cost of up to $140M. Fisher previously headed global communications for Tommy Hilfiger and worked in PR and marketing at Joseph Abboud (VP of PR), GFT Corp. and Calvin Klein Menswear.

Will Steere, executive VP at Ruder Finn, to FD, New York, as managing director in its corporate comms. practice. He previously established the New York office of Advantage International and managed corporate comms. for Procter & Gamble, CSX Corp. and Remy Amerique.

Neville Hobson, a well-known digital PR pro based in the U.K., has been tapped to head social media for Europe for WeissComm Group as the healthcare-focused, San Francisco-based agency beefs up its digital staff. Hobson, known for his long-running PR blog and podcast series with Shel Holtz, had been running his own shop after stints at Bond Interactive, crayon, and, earlier, VP of corporate communication at Scala Business Solutions in The Netherlands. WeissComm also made several key social media hires across its headquarters office, New York and Austin. They include Chris Black (Draft FCB), Bob Blount (Dell), Liesel Enke (Fleishman-Hillard), Geoff Knox (Dell), and Lauran Driver (Porter Novelli). Hobson reports to Bob Pearson, Weisscom’s chief technology and media officer and former VP of communities and conversations at Dell who joined in May.

James Davis, a social media consultant who ran his own shop focused on public affairs, to Gibraltar Associates, Washington, D.C., as manager of digital media. He was previously deputy director of media affairs at the Republican National Committee and associate director of comms. for the Republican National Convention in Minnesota in 2008. Davis worked in government in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs from 2006-08.


Alissa Pinck to head of JS2 Communications’ New York office as senior VP/GM.


Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 7


Delegates were requesting a complete list of the 2009 Assembly delegates which up until now has not been provided.

A posting on the PRS governance e-group Aug. 31 said a PRS staffer had told a delegate that no list would be available until the Assembly was seated Nov. 7 because it would not be accurate until then.

An attempt to specifically block proxy use in 2005 was defeated when 81 proxy votes were used out of a total of 240. Leaders rejected a notation in Robert’s Rules that said adoption of Robert’s (which forbids proxy voting) by itself was enough to answer any state laws requiring specific language barring proxies.

Proxy forms for the 2009 Assembly in San Diego are to be made available the week of Oct. 12.

An “undirected” proxy, said PRS, allows the holder to vote on anything during the day including motions, amendments, closing debate, refer to a committee and other procedural matters as well as passage of the entire new set bylaws. Proxy holders receive one voting device for each proxy they have been given.

Proxy Voting Not Discussed

There was no discussion of proxies on the two teleconferences Oct. 1.

PRS chair Mike Cherenson and bylaws chair Dave Rickey argued at length in both morning and afternoon teleconferences with members who wanted details of the new election process before dumping the current one.

Both repeatedly said that no further details of the election process would be given until the Assembly agreed in principle to “direct elections” by the membership.

One detail did come out as Rickey said a campaign period might be 30 to 45 days. Critics said they were shocked that such a fact had been withheld from them although they have been asking for details for five months.

Currently there is about a three-week period between the announcement of the candidates (19 this year) and the deadline for comments. This period includes the July 4 holiday.

Candidates were announced on June 22 this year and comments were taken until July 13. Seven official nominees were announced Aug. 4. No one has ever run for the PRS board or as an officer without first being in the initial group picked by the nomcom.

Members said great caution must be exercised by the Assembly before it turns itself into “an advisory body.”

Cherenson said Assembly delegates are not giving up any voting powers but would just be voting alongside all the other members.

A delegate told this NL that such a remark “is an insult to our intelligence.”

Involving the entire membership is a way of getting them “more engaged,” the delegate said. Rickey at one point said there were 13,000 members although the current total is 22,000.

Members said they belong to groups and each year a slate comes around and they check a box approving it. Elections in associations are usually cut and dried, they said. The PRS nominating committee would still propose candidates, perhaps one for each opening, and members would not have much of a choice, it was pointed out.

Rickey said that “ideally,” more than one candidate might be proposed for one post and each candidate could then conduct a campaign. Campaigns would be “structured” and “unregulated campaigning” would not be permitted, he said.

Compared to Campaigns for Public Office

Comparisons were made with how presidential and other campaigns for public office in the U.S. are conducted.

Senior members said such references are inappropriate since public candidates undergo extensive grilling by reporters for months and more than a year in the case of presidential candidates.

They noted the distaste PR leaders have shown for press relations for many years. The last press conference by the board was in 1993 at the annual conference in Orlando. Current policy of PRS staff and leaders is not to answer any questions by this NL.

Cherenson, on a Sept. 10 teleconference, said he doubted the “ethics” of journalists would allow them to join the Society.

The seven 2009 candidates of PRS, as well as chair-elect Gary McCormick, have been asked whether or not they agree with the statement of Cherenson on journalistic ethics.

They are Rosanna Fiske, chair-elect candidate; Phil Tate, treasurer; Gerard Corbett, secretary; Robert Frause, N. Pacific director; Mickey Nall, Southeast director; Blake Lewis, Southwest director, and Barbara Whitman, director-at-large.

As of press time, none have responded. Fiske and Corbett answered some questions before they became official candidates. Information on the candidates was removed from the PRS website after their selection Aug. 4. Tuesday, Oct. 6 is the deadline for opposition candidates to file.

Ofield Dukes, Washington, D.C., counselor who would have been the only African-American on the 17-member board, was passed over by the nomcom in favor of Whitman. He was offered a non-voting seat on the board by McCormick but refused.

Board/Staff in Power Struggle with Assembly

Senior members see the proposed bylaws as part of a power struggle between the board and staff and the Assembly that goes back to the mid 1980s when the Assembly voted twice to move h.q. out of New York.

Chapters had been asked to submit proposals for hosting h.q. in their cities and seven responded, providing more than a foot high of research materials including occupancy and staff costs.

They argued that many millions of dollars could be saved by a move to a city such as Indianapolis or Cleveland. The Assembly twice voted for such a move but the board over-ruled it, claiming it had the ultimate authority of Society matters.

Shortly after that, the board discontinued the spring Assembly, citing costs.


Internet Edition, October 7, 2009, Page 8




PR pros know them well but we don’t think students are getting the current “facts of life” on what it is like to work for a corporation or institution.

We have all the major PR textbooks and they don’t hint at the huge divide that has developed between corporate and agency PR. Many textbooks are far behind actual practices.

Almost all of what used to be called “PR” is in the agencies these days. By that we mean freedom to mix it up intellectually and even socially with reporters.

There are too many watchful eyes at corporations/institutions for their PR pros to do much of the above.

One illustration was a column by David Carr of the New York Times Sept. 14.

He told of Star-Ledger political columnist Tom Moran, worried about the future of newspapers, leaving the paper in February 2008 to be “policy director” for Public Service Electric & Gas.

Moran, 52, with wife and two children, was in the third year of pay freezes and decided the security of a big company was the solution.

He lasted until Sept. 11, 2009, although he told Carr, “I knew after a week it wouldn’t work.”

He has returned to the Star-Ledger and tells his news friends: “I no longer have to collaborate with 15 people on a plan to go to the bathroom. Big companies are by nature hierarchal and cautious. If I want to walk into my editor’s office and tell him he’s a bozo, I can.”

The PR Society, whose workings are extraordinarily public, is a good illustration of pressures on PR by the other professions.

The two PR pros at h.q. are no match for the lawyers, accountants, association pros, marketers and even the parliamentarians (the last now being hired for months at a time and who are helping to craft bylaw amendments).

Lawyers don’t want anything going out that implies the company is guilty of anything (could touch off a lawsuit); the CFO’s office wants nothing going out that could be “material” (affect the price of the stock), and the association and marketing people want exclusive use of membership lists for their own marketing purposes.

PR pros at institutions may even be forbidden to meet, talk to, or trade e-mails with certain reporters (the case at PRS).

An illustration of legal thinking trumping PR thinking at PRS is Section 7 in the proposed bylaws that gives the board the power to suspend or terminate a member “at its sole discretion.”

Such a clause is a PR disaster. A footnote to this bylaws section says, “Attorney recommended addition.” PR is being led around by its nose by lawyers.

The stubbornness and lack of logic exhibited by PRS chair Mike Cherenson and bylaws chair Dave Rickey in the Oct. 1 teleconferences proves that the Assembly must assert its control over the board. (click here)

All PR people, including non-members of PRS, should listen to this tape. Oddly, PRS does not make this or other audiotapes of bylaws discussions available to its general membership although leaders are claiming they want to switch to the popular election of board and officers so that members will feel more “engaged.” Which is it?!

Leaders refuse to make any promises or even discuss the possibility of audiocasting the historic Assembly Nov. 7 when an entire new set of bylaws is up for a vote after “thousands” of hours of discussion and a legal bill probably over $100K. Another illogical move is the rejection of Ofield Dukes as the official candidate for the at-large position on the board.

Both Cherenson and Rickey say the reason for ditching district reps on the board is that the “best people” must be picked no matter where they are from. They repeatedly emphasize that quality should be the only criterion for board selection.

But by what stretch of the imagination is Barbara Whitman, a solo practitioner in Hawaii, more qualified that Dukes to be on the board?

It’s known that Whitman is a close personal friend of Rhoda Weiss, who chaired the nomcom. Neither one denies this although the question has been put to them.

Dukes is not only a longtime major PR figure in Washington, D.C., acting currently as an advisor to the Obama Administration, but he would be the only African-American on the 17-member board. We see cronyism at work here and not a quest for the “best.”

The board has abused its powers for many years including failing to have any PR for PR program.

It should never have allowed the move of h.q. downtown which put PRS offices out of reach of the large New York PR community. By not allowing distribution of a PDF of the membership list, it gives the staff the exclusive right to pitch the members an almost endless stream of webinars and seminars.

Proposed bylaws will turn the Assembly into a giant annual kaffeeklatsch, making it mostly an advisory body.

The Assembly must not only refuse to give up its power to vet and elect board and officers, but must pass a bylaw that establishes itself as the “ultimate policy-making body” of PRS just like the Houses of Delegates of the ABA and AMA are.

Since this is a “revision” of bylaws and not amendments to them, any motion can be made without any prior notice.

Venable, the 660-lawyer D.C. law firm that backs the board in its belief that only the board can have this power, must be canned. Our legal sources say there is no law that blocks the will of the majority of the members of a group from doing what the majority wants.

If PRS keeps insisting on that, it should move its charter to a state that allows it.

Colette Trohan should not be the parliamentarian at the Assembly. She is too identified with PRS management at a time when a huge gap has sprung up between the bylaws it is pushing and opponents to these changes.

She has been working for PRS for several months and supplied a one-page series of definitions on Robert’s Rules that only scratches the surface of what delegates need to know.

She should have recommended that delegates buy any one of a number of inexpensive books on RR or summaries of major RR rules that are on the web as well as advise them of the website that answers questions on RR: (click here)

If she is a devotee of RR, she should be pointing out that the proposed use of proxies Nov. 7 is totally against the spirit not only of RR but parliaments (parl being French for talk as in “parlor” and “parley”).

Delegates should also be given the pros and cons of proxy voting which are on

A parliamentary trick that the Assembly must avoid is agreeing in the agenda at the start of the meeting to a “hard ending” at 5 p.m. or any particular time. This trick was used last year when only 52% of those present wanted to continue past 5 p.m.

They were cheated out of a “Town Hall” for the second year in a row.

--Jack O'Dwyer


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