The PRSA conference in Boston ended yesterday but a blackout continues on what happened at the Assembly Saturday, Oct. 7.

The Society’s online “newsroom” as of today only has news of four members receiving awards. There was no physical newsroom at the conference. Coverage of keynote speakers and panels is not available.

Anthony D'AngeloAnthony D'Angelo

Responsibility for the Society’s governance is shifting to Prof. Anthony D’Angelo, who is director of communications management and teaches PR at the Newhouse School, Syracuse University.

He does not return emails sent by the O’Dwyer Co.

Four of seven proposals created for the Assembly were discussed and voted on after three were withdrawn. One was insertion of “communications” in many places in the bylaws. This had generated much discussion prior to the Assembly and leaders said it was being re-written.

Members have been unable to obtain any details on what happened at the Assembly.

PRSA/NY Refuses Help

Five or six delegates representing the New York chapter were present but refuse to provide any report.

Chapter president Olga Gonzalez said she “believed national has been in contact with members regarding the Assembly” but there is no evidence of that. She said she would only handle questions about the chapter, saying we should contact national which has not responded to us in more than 20 years.

There is nothing on the chapter website about what happened at the Assembly.

The April 21-22, 2017 board meeting of national said the meeting discussed “the status of the engagement with Jack O’Dwyer” but gave no details. That was a false statement because there is no “engagement” with this reporter, only a boycott.

Gonzales, Feintuch Join Blackout

Gonzales and Henry Feintuch, former chapter president, were told in an email that this reporter has “never seen such a breakdown in communications as is taking place at PRSA national and which is aided and abetted by PRSA/NY. Former chapter president Art Stevens was also informed.

Also refusing help were PR Prof. Donald Wright of Boston University, who has numerous PRSA awards and titles, and Prof. Tina McCorkindale, president of the Institute for PR, who lives in Seattle.

Both were registered attendees at the conference.

The list of registrants shows about 1,200 names, indicating member attendance of about 1,000 since non-members, PRSA staff and exhibitor reps were included.

Attendees thus represented about 5% of the 21,201 members (March 31, 2017 figure).

The high-spirited attendees posted numerous items on the Twitter connection for the conference. They were overjoyed with the conference and with meeting and socializing with other attendees.

Forgotten were the 95% of PRSA members whose companies could not or would not foot the $1,295 (early registration) or $1,495 fee for attendance plus at least a thousand for travel, meals and hotel.

The conference, as usual, was a feast for the insiders. More than 20 PRSA staffers were among the registrants.

“Communications” Use Undercuts APR

Members who oppose the insertion of “communications” throughout the bylaws say there can be no such thing as an “Accredited Communicator” since communications includes not only many diverse activities but hardware such as cellphone towers, wiring, etc.

The effect of highlighting “communications” is to put a further nail in the APR coffin, they say.

Board Control Switched from Women to Men

Another bone of contention among members is that PRSA, which had a board with 12 women and five men in 2016, switched to a board with nine men and eight women in 2017 after a woman who was elected to the 2017 board was replaced by a man. As in 2017, 16 of the 17 directors are APR when it should be 3-4 APRs because only 18% of members are APR.

Joyce Lofstrom of HIMSS Chicago, major healthcare organization, announced as a member of the 2017 board, was replaced by Kevin Waetke of the National Pork Board, Clive, Iowa, giving men the majority of posts on the board. Upwards of 80% of Society members are women.

There has been no explanation of the sudden replacement of Lofstrom with Waetke. Emails to chair Jane Dvorak, CEO Joe Truncale and PR staffers Laura Kane and Laurent Lawrence have not been returned.

One member rapped the re-engineered PRSA website saying she had “yet to speak to a PRSA colleague who has had any form of positive user experience” with it. This writer seconds that opinion. The site has a fraction of the information it used to put in the public area.

$800K for Lawyers, Nothing for PR

The Society has spent, in the past ten years, nearly $800K on law firms, mostly at Venable of Washington, D.C.

It has never had outside PR counsel. No PR could get involved with its press-avoiding tactics including blocking press from coverage of the Assembly.