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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Dec. 03, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 48 (download PDF version)

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PR OPINION ___________________

The International Association of Business Communicators on Nov. 30 announced that ten staffers had been laid off that day and that six more would leave by March next year when their duties are “outsourced.” This would represent nearly one-half of a staff of 30+.

Chair Kerby Meyers and executive director Christopher Sorek said that five new positions would be filled “in due course.”

Members were e-mailed a 5:13-minute YouTube video in which Meyers and Sorek describe new directions of IABC including a commitment to digitize more materials and make digital “the touchpoint for everything that we are going to be doing.”

A digital agency has been retained as well as a consultant for a certification program that IABC is recommending to members. Neither firm is identified thus far.

The tape was made during the 2012 World PR Forum in Melbourne last month. It was released Nov. 27.

PR Society Also Cut Staff

The announcement came on the heels of the PR Society’s delivery of its printed IRS Form 990 tax return for 2011 to O’Dwyer offices that showed $500K had been trimmed from the Society’s payroll in 2011, possibly representing ten or more jobs.

PRS’s Q3 financial report showed a loss of $357,498 in spite of a dues hike of $30 that was supposed to put PRS in the black.

IABC, unlike PRS, does not provide quarterly financial reports. The 2011 tax returns of both groups are not yet available on GuideStar or Foundation Center.

PRS members are told they may obtain the 990 by visiting h.q. or by making a written request for it.

IABC’s 990 is only distributed to the IABC board. It is not available on the IABC website. A copy has been e-mailed to this newsletter.

Revenues rose 4.7% to $5,781,192 in 2011 but net dipped 58% to $173,937 from $417,666.

Net assets rose to $1,126,373 from $1,001,043.

IABC, unlike PRS, defers a substantial amount of its dues income. Deferred income was $1,714,987 at the end of 2011.

IABC had invested $1,981,970 in “publicly traded securities by the end of 2011, up from $921,628 a year earlier.

Occupancy costs were $424,285; legal, $12,439; accounting, $42,966, and travel/meals/hotels, $236,947.

Julie Freeman, who resigned as president in early 2012, was paid $186,492 in salary, $13,188 in non-taxable income, and $9,325 in deferred income for a total of $209,005.

SVP Christopher Hall had a salary of $135,642 and $15,230 in benefits; SVP Lee Anne Snedeker $116,630/$12,516; VP Natasha Nicholson, $110,463/$12,423, and VP/financial/HR Maureen Lennon, $106,286/$18,370.

Pay/benefits of all staffers was $2,789,521, a gain of 10% from $2,530,077 in the previous year. Pay/benefits in 2011 were 48% of revenues.

Web, PR Trades Are Competition

A major benefit offered by IABC and PRS is training in skills needed for the job market. However, numerous web sources now offer PR skill-building programs including PR news media such as PR News and Ragan’s.

The possibility of networking has been a major draw of the PR groups but Facebook, LinkedIn and numerous social media now provide a means of building personal contacts without having to pay membership fees.

A member of the Texas PR Assn., which folded Dec. 31, 2011 after decades of existence, said it is “easier and cheaper to stay in touch via websites like LinkedIn and Facebook.”

About half of the 24 New York PR groups active in the 1970s and 1980s disappeared including the Chemical Comms. Assn., Financial Relations Society, Monday II Corporate PR group, New York Airline Assn., New York Business Communicators, Paper Industry PR Group, Shop Talk, Pride & Alarm, PR Roundtable, Wall St. Irregulars and Wednesday PR Group. Women Executives in PR merged into Ad Women of New York in its 50th year.

LinkedIn Has 50+ PR Groups

Social media groups for PR people have exploded in recent years. The LinkedIn Public Relations Professionals group lists more than 32,500 members.

Social Media Marketing is one of the largest claiming 195,000 members and 20 special interest groups.

Gerald Haman’s Innovative Marketing & PR Group claims 150,000+ members. Haman is the founder of more than 30 Innovation Groups on with worldwide membership of 250,000+. An adjunct professor of innovation at Northwestern University he also founded SolutionPeople, developer of the Chicago Thinkubator. He is editor of InnovatorsDigest and creator of the Innovation Tool of The Month Club.

Costs of IABC, PRS

PRS fees include $255 national dues, $65 initiation fee and additional fees for section membership. The APR program costs an initial $410 but PRS members are refunded $100 upon completion of it.

IABC’s basic rate is $259 but mandatory regional dues are extra as well as chapter dues unless the member is more than 50 miles from a chapter.

Annual costs for a New York City IABC member are $324.

IABC Suspended Accreditation

IABC in September announced it was no longer accepting applications for its $500 Accredited Business Communicator program. Current applicants can complete the process.

About 1,120 of its 14,028 members are ABC with 46 new ABCs having been created so far this year.

Gloria Walker, a U.K. counselor, said the program is being revamped to make it “fit for the 21st century.”

The 47-year-old PR Society’s APR program created an average of 136 new PRS APRs in the nine years ended June 30, 2012.

— Jack O’Dwyer

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