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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Oct. 22, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 42 (download PDF version)

Page 8 Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
PR OPINION ___________________

A study of the renewal rate of PR Society exhibitors shows that 21 of the 47 exhibitors in 2011 did not return to exhibit at the Oct. 14-16, 2012 conference in San Francisco, a renewal rate of 55%.

Fifteen of the 43 exhibitors in 2010 did not return in either 2011 or 2012.

The low renewal rate points to a lot of dissatisfaction among the exhibitors. Service firms this year were offered a combination "sponsor" designation and standard booth for a combined price of $10,000. This was one reason for the 32% jump in "sponsor" income to $747,430. Some exhibitors told this NL that the price was too high for them.

The 36 exhibitors who were present in 2010 or 2011 and decided not to come back had paid thousands of dollars in exhibition fees, plus the costs of staff time, and shipping and setting up displays in order to reach a live audience of PR people.

PRS, which regularly checks on how satisfied members are, should find out why the exhibitor renewal rate is only 55%. A membership renewal rate of 55% would soon put PRS out of business.

Non-Returnees Listed

Exhibitors in 2011 that did not return in 2012 were Booz|Allen|Hamilton, Charet and Assocs., ClickSquared, Coverago, Dow Jones & Co., Education Partnerships, George Washington University, Kelton Research, Magnify Digital, MyMediaInfo/Red Egg, National Black PR Society, News USA, New York Times, On the Record…Online, PitchEngine, Queue Associates, Rutgers School of Communications, Solodev, TEK Group, TRAACKR, VeraQuest

The 43 exhibitors in 2012 included 26 repeats from 2011 and 17 firms that were not present last year.

Repeats were American Pop, BurrellesLuce, BusinessWire, Cision, EurekAlert, Family Features, Give the Kids the World, Int'l Visitor's Center, iPressroom, Leadership Directories, Marketwire, MediaVantage, Meltwater Group, Moreover, NAPS, NYU, PIER Systems, PR Newswire, Quinnipiac University, Synergy Events, Syracuse University, Thomson Reuters, Tufts University, TVEyes, Vocus and West Virginia University.

Exhibitors not present in 2011 were Airfoil PR, Bowling Green State University, Golden Gate University, GolinHarris, Google, Kaiser Permanente, KRM Information Services, Media Skills Academy, MEDIAmobz, NASDAQ, NettResults Int'l PR, News Data Service, Onstream Media,, The Clorox Co. and University of Florida.

Exhibitors in 2010 that did not return in either 2011 or 2012 included AP Images, Berkman PR, Best Buy/Geek Squad, Blue Sky Factory, Editor Showcase, eNR, Evolve24, Financial Times, Gonzaga University, History Associates, Infoition, IZEA, MyPRGenie, ROI Communication, TopRank Online Marketing, University of Denver, University of Waikato, and Visible Technologies. Exhibiting in 2010, 2011 and 2012 were BurrellesLuce, Business Wire, Cision, EurekAlert,

Family Features, George Washington University, Marketwire, Moreover Technologies, New York Univ., PR Newswire, Synergy Events and Syracuse Univ.

Who Attends the Conference?

A key issue for exhibitors is whether they are reaching people who will buy their products. An examination of the 1,650 names on the registration list gives some answers.

The PR services should have this list but we suspect many don't. It used to be given out in hard copy but now the 26 pages have to be downloaded and printed out.

If they study the first four pages, they will find 256 names but only nine blue chips-General Motors, Amway, Genentech, State Farm Insurance, Eli Lilly and Wells Fargo, Kaiser Permanente, ConocoPhillips, and Comcast.

There are no VPs among the nine. Bryan Byrd is director of communications at Comcast and Jenie Altruda is "head of PR" at Amway. There are 41 directors and 37 managers among the 256.

Burson-Marsteller until the mid-1970s hosted a giant party at each PRS conference. It stopped doing that, explaining that there were not enough senior PR people in attendance to justify the expense.

If the exhibitors put some of their research people to work (and most are in one form of research or another), they will examine all 26 pages like we have done.

They will find 102 PR professors listed and 71 directors of PR of educational institutions. How good a market are PR professors and PR heads of colleges, the latter mostly having promotional and fund-raising duties? The professors who come get a reduced rate but are not allowed to have meals at functions. They are usually on very tight budgets.

Exhibitors will find 51 staffers of service firms. How often does one service firm buy the products of another? They will find 26 PR Society staffers most of whose names are unknown to members because all but about 10 names were removed from the PRS website years ago.

PRS staffers listed are Thomas Albi, Candice Bellitera, Michael Benoit, Don Bill, Phil Bonaventura, John Bomier, Ann Caggiano, Stephanie Cegielski, Albert Chau, Robert Denbe, Christina Darnowski, John Elsasser, Wendy Gallo, John Gumbinger, Amy Jacques, Donna Jonas, Rosanne Mottola, Bill Murray, John Robinson, Colleen Seaver, Richard Spector, Judith Voss, Karla Voth, Art Yann and Nicole Zerillo.

Withholding staff names makes it impossible to track staff turnover.

PRS in the 1970s typically sent less than a dozen or so staffers to national conferences that were nearly as big, relying heavily on local volunteers.

The 2012 cost of coast-to-coast airfare, food and lodging for 26 staffers for up to ten days (not including advance trips) is a considerable one.

Next largest contingent from a single organization are the 18 staffers listed for Kaiser Permanente, the "Premiere Sponsor" of the conference.

— Jack O’Dwyer

Page 8 Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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