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Pisinski’s 2000 Financial Reforms Were Dumped by PRSA

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment

By Jack O’Dwyer,  New York

The one elected officer of PR Society of America who stood up against the false bookkeeping of the board/staff was 2000 chair Steve Pisinski, who had major posts with Ogilvy PR, Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum before opening his own firm in San Francisco.

Image of Steve Pisinki PRSA treasurer

Steve Psinki

Pisinski, who died in 2002, was PRS treasurer in 1998. He was fed up with the “dime store” accounting of the Society that misled members.

He wrote the entire membership on July 25, 2000 that the Society henceforth would “be in compliance with the method used by the American Society of Assn. Executives” and that new computer software would “calculate dues income as earned.”

Pisinski’s honesty and courage are needed by PRS now because of all the abuses perpetrated by current elected leaders and staff, the worst by far is false, misleading, non-existent and late financial reporting.

The U.S. is on its financial knees because the public did not get the right figures in enough time.

New York Times accounting columnist Floyd Norris put the entire blame for the financial mess on CPAs who allowed off-balance sheet entries and other abusive practices.

He wrote many columns on this theme including one on March 12, 2009 headlined, “Blame the Accountants.”

The Financial Accounting Standards Board rule 958-605-2-1 requires that dues be booked over the period covered (one year in the case of PRS).

Pisinski told auditor Deloitte & Touche to start counting dues income the correct way and the deferred dues account for 1999 was restated as $425,309 (from $198,746) and the 2000 DD account soared to $813,116. PRS was on the road to honesty. With dues income of $3.1M in 2000, the DD account should have been closer to $1.5M.

PRS had a DD account of $904,767 on dues of $2.1M in 1991but this was drawn down to $169,530 by 1995 to goose the net assets figure.

The ASAE, with $5.1M in 2000 dues, set aside $2.74M in DD. IABC, a group very close to PRS in membership and programs, the American Medical Assn., American Bar Assn., and AICPA all put at least half of dues in DD.

Next Boards Flopped
The Pisinski reforms lasted one year.

Deloitte & Touche was canned and the new auditor as of 2001 was the CPA firm of Sobel & Co., Livingston, N.J.
Instead of going up, the DD headed down again. It went to $566,459 in 2001 and $389,941 in 2002.

The 2010 audit, by PKF, shows only $290,948 in DD on dues of $4.4M. The DD should be about $2.2M which would reduce PRS’s net assets to about $1.2M.

We hope Society leaders and staff have stopped referring to the group’s cash/investments as “reserves” because PRS has no such thing as “reserves.”

What it has is a miniscule amount of earned cash with at least $2.2 million of the cash on hand owed for future services.

The $2.2M does not belong to PRS. It belongs to the members.

Full Airing Needed
A full airing of the Society’s finances is needed although traditionally staff/board have stood behind the “audit” as though it were an impregnable barricade.

The 2010 audit and many of its predecessors are flawed documents and get no respect from us.

The 2010 audit was prepared by treasurer Phil Bonaventura, who was paid $221K in salary/fringes in 2009. What the CPA firm does is come in, look over the figures, do a few checks here and there and approve it.

It does not plunge deeply into the finances. If it did, it would question the mere $260,816 allotted for staff time on the annual conference when ex-chairs and treasurers have assured us that large numbers of staff spend lots of time on the conference. Typically, 25-35 staffers attend the conference for periods of five to ten days.

None of the top eight staffers, including COO Bill Murray, will reveal their pay/fringes for 2010 or 2011.

That’s one of numerous other issues that need to be explored.

Pisinski Danced to Own Tune
Pisinski was a renegade chair to many of the highly conforming national leaders. Disregarding the rule that reporters could not enter the “sacred” Assembly area, he let them sit in the first row of the 2000 Assembly.

When COO Ray Gaulke wrote a letter to advertisers and leaders asking them to support with advertising and subscriptions PR Week which debuted in the U.S., in 1998, Pisinski condemned Gaulke and the board for interfering in the private marketplace.

PRS had no business supporting one of the PR trade publications, he said.

The Society’s support included letting PRW/U.S. use its membership for the initial circulation for an unknown period of months.

Ogilvy’s Nall Runs for PRSA Chair-Elect

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Guest Editor Jack O’Dwyer, www.odwyerpr.com

Mickey Nall, head of the Atlanta office of Ogilvy PR Worldwide, a major brand of the $15 billion ad/PR giant WPP Group, has been accepted as a candidate for chair-elect of PR Society of America, raising our hopes of fairness and rationality returning to the Society.

He has promised in his application (PDF) to “ask questions, play the devil’s advocate…I’m not with a go-with-the-flow guy.”

Current Leadership is Worst Ever

Mickey Nall,

Well, the first question he can ask is whether COO Bill Murray has or is about to get a new two-year contract as of Jan. 22, 2012. He can also ask Murray’s pay package, last seen at $373K in 2009.

A new contract would mean a $2.1 million commitment to the top three h.q. staffers at a time when the Society is pleading poverty and seeking a $30 dues hike.

Murray’s two principal appointments, CFO Phil Bonaventura and VP-PR Art Yann, made $221K and $137K, respectively, in 2009 (total of $731K for all three execs).

Society practice is to give a year’s severance to departing executives. Nall’s pitch for chair-elect (PDF) avoids concrete topics such as allowing non-APRs to run for office, providing a PDF of the members’ list, exploring the high cost of New York h.q., etc. He can be opposed by other candidates who might take up real issues until Sept. 15.
The current PRSA leadership, including elected officers and the powerful staff, is the worst we have ever seen. It blocks at almost every turn information flow in an age of information deluge.

Members can’t get the complete list of Assembly delegates and have lost the transcript of what delegates say since 2005. Their beloved members’ directory was taken from them in 2006 without a word to the Assembly. Ditto for New York h.q. which fled downtown in 2004, turning its back on midtown, where the communications industry is concentrated.

Members who participate in PRS e-groups are warned they face prosecution if they forward any e-mail or print more than one copy. The list of information blockages is almost endless and includes the removal of the single list of 110 chapter presidents.

What Has WPP Got to Gain?

image of Martin Sorrell

Martin Sorrell

We wonder what WPP CEO Martin Sorrell will think of Nall’s candidacy?

Why would WPP associate its name and that of its precious Ogilvy brand with a group that tramples on its own bylaws, Robert’s Rules, its own Code of Ethics and simple logic?

Gary McCormick (who had quit the 2006 board), took the 2010 chair partly to publicize HGTV. Rosanna Fiske, 2011 chair, is pursuing an “Hispanicize” agenda partly in behalf of Florida Int’l University, which is 65% Hispanic. She is on her fourth trip to the board and is the second PRS elected head from FIU (Debra Miller being the first in 1997).

WPP does not need any publicity that PRS could give it.

Ogilvy, which does about $300 million in PR via 65 worldwide offices (exact figures have been withheld for conglomerate units since 2001), is not only a leading PR brand of WPP but a leading advertising brand.  Hill & Knowton, Burson-Marsteller and the other PR brands of WPP grew 3.7% in 2010.

Sorrell’s publicly-owned company must adhere to strict financial accounting standards and practice full disclosure.  PRS for decades has flouted the FASB rule that demands that dues be booked over a year’s time as earned. This bloats its “net assets” figure.

I doubt Sorrell will approve of PRS blocking journalists from seeing the Society’s audit and quarterly reports and its refusal to answer questions about its finances.

McCormick, Fiske Were Disappointments

McCormick made a good start in 2009 by promising to put African-Americans and reporters on his Strategic Planning Committee. But he caved to board pressure and no such thing happened.

Defying a request by the 2009 Assembly to investigate e-mail voting, McCormick declared in mid-2010 that direct elections of board/officers was too difficult and too expensive (in spite of a Cornell University free and secure e-mail voting service that has been used 60,000 times by organizations).

Our opinion of him sank further when he and Murray delivered a blackball to the O’Dwyer Co. on March 19, 2010, in our offices. They came to deepen wounds, not to heal them.

Fiske disappoints in trying to push a dues increase without scheduling an appearance before any chapter membership. She has talked to only one chapter membership in her first six months (her own in Miami) based on available records.

2011 Nomcom Is Disaster

Also on Fiske’s head is the disastrous performance of the 2011 nomcom headed by 2009 chair Mike Cherenson. A member of the committee is Art Stevens, who spearheaded last year’s unsuccessful “Committee for a Democratic PR Society.”

Failing to round up candidates for three districts, the nomcom has decided to declare three new at-large seats. This defies Section V of the bylaws which say, “Each district shall be represented by at least one director” (Article V, Section 1). However, there is another part of the ill-conceived new bylaws (Article VII) that says the nomcom can convert a district director to an at-large director if no candidate shows up for the district.

Robin Perrin of the Pinkerton Academy, was named to represent the Northeast district in the 1990s when no one showed up for that district.  The Cherenson committee just did not look hard enough. There are about 400 APRs in each district and one can be appointed in the absence of any candidates.

Staff Has Too Much Power
Doug Spong, co-chair of the 2011 conference, asked to assure that this reporter will be “credentialed” for the meeting, said, “It’s not my right or responsibility to grant press access.” His two other co-chairs, Andrea Finger of Walt Disney World and counselor Bonnie Upright of Orange Park, Fla., didn’t respond to our e-mails.

The same thing happened in 2010 when I asked co-chairs Torod Neptune of Verizon and Robert Hastings of Bell Helicopter to get me press admittance to the conference after Yann said I had to pay $1,275 (although other reporters went free).  Neptune and Hastings not only would not talk to me, they put blocks on any e-mails I tried to send them.

The 2009 Assembly, ignoring Robert’s Rules although citing RR as its “parliamentary authority,” used 56 proxies to vote in the use of proxies.
This is like a baseball team voting to score touchdowns or a football team seeking to score home runs.

The adoption of RR “automatically” satisfies any state demand for a specific rule about proxies, says RR. RR further says “proxy voting is incompatible with the essential characteristics of a deliberative body.”

Another major RR rule that was trashed is the one that says a board of a group is “subordinate” to an “assembly,” if such a body exists. PRS lawyers warn repeatedly that the Assembly must never tell the board what to do.

The 2009 Assembly broke the rule that all articles in a re-write must be presented one-by-one for discussion and vote. Only a few of them were as picked by the board.

RR also advises never doing a re-write at a regular annual meeting but doing that job in a series of special meetings. The 2009 Assembly took up the re-write at the annual Assembly and after leaders had wasted the first hour of the meeting on gratuitous speeches that should have been provided in hard copy a week before the meeting.

The 11-member APR committee — 10 of the 11 members were APR and all of whom were volunteers — violated RR’s advice that the committee be “large with many views represented.” Only 19% of members were APR in 2009, meaning the committee was unrepresentative of the vast majority of members.

Sharpe Quit in Protest
Committee member Cynthia Sharpe, former chair of the Sunshine district (seven Florida chapters), quit (link, sub req’d) [Free user/pass are june & summer) because the bylaws discussion was being conducted “mostly via e-mails, phone calls and blog posts.” She said national political leaders would not “debate and decide laws mostly via electronic means of communication.”

Other attempted bylaw atrocities in 2009 were ridding the Assembly of its power to elect board/officers and replacing this with an undefined direct election process, and an attempt to further “pack” the Assembly by adding about 30 appointed committee chairs as voting delegates. The Assembly already has 44 leadership delegates who don’t belong there (17 national directors, 17 section chairs, ten district chairs).

A horror that did pass was allowing directors to serve four years in a row, skip a year and then come back for four more years. The stranglehold of the APRs on PRS was strengthened and the wisdom of the founders ignored. They had barred any director from coming back on the board.

Rickey Opposes Nall
Chairing the bylaws revision committee was none other than Dave Rickey, who is now vying with Nall for chair-elect. Rickey and 2009 chair Mike Cherenson ran the debate on the bylaws revision for nearly nine-months without either of them ever facing a live in-person audience.

It was all done by e-mails and teleconferences and Rickey at one point admitted this was a “klunky” way to carry on a debate. This same method is being used for the proposed $30 dues hike.

Conference calls for Assembly delegates will take place Wednesday, July 27 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT.  he general membership and the press are blocked out of these calls.

A 2009 group of about 50 members, calling themselves “The True Friends of the Society,” listed 11 objections (link, sub req’d) to the way the revision was being conducted and asked, “How can a member abide by the Society’s bylaws, policies and procedures when P&P are not made available to them?”

Nall Is “In Residence” at Univ. of Oregon

Nall has become the first “PR Executive in Residence” at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, giving a talk May 4 titled “Tradigital is the Future of PR: Trends Tomorrow’s Professionals Need to Know Now.”

“Tradigital” refers to art including animation that combines traditional and computer-based techniques to implicate an image.” It’s related to digital art, new media art, interactive art and internet art.

The “PR Executive in Residence” could be something funded by Lorry Lokey, who founded BusinessWire with his wife Eva in 1961. BW generated what Lokey called “obscene” profits. He set up a trust that gave away more than $433 million including $132M to UofO (link, sub req’d).

He was a 1949 graduate of Stanford University but included UofO in his gift-giving because George Turnbull, one of his Stanford profs, who was dean of the UofO J School from 1944-48, gave Lokey his first job with United Press.

Posted by Jack O’Dwyer in PRSA at 09:58 | Comments (0) |Trackbacks (0)

Media Guru George Mc Quade to Discuss Evolution of Media On Live TV

September 19, 2009 Leave a comment
MAYO'S V.P. George McQuade
MAYO’S V.P. George McQuade

Veteran TV/Radio Broadcaster turned Publicist Mc Quade To share secrets of PR business

LOS ANGELES, CA —Vice President George Mc Quade, MAYO Communications, an award-winning full service entertainment and public relations firm in Los Angeles is scheduled to appear live this Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 on CSU Dominguez Hills campus HD TV station. Mc Quade will discuss the evolution of media, secrets to powerful media relations campaigns and public relations with TV host Chris Burnett, CSUDH.

“The media is changing faster than the media can even report on it,” said Mc Quade, who manages media relations and new business for MAYO Communications as V.P. “The most important message I drive home to students and budding PR Pros is to acquire as much digital media arts skills as possible from radio, TV to blogging and websites.  Even TV stations like KNBC have what they call a “content center,” which used to be the called the newsroom. Surviving writers, producers and editors are being retrained as multi-media experts writing their stories, but now recording radio and TV interviews, too, for instantly posting Online.”
Mc Quade will be available for call-in questions during the hour show segment that airs 2:30 – 3:30 pm, Saturday. The Public Relations Show begins at 1:50 p.m. He speaks regularly at publicity, broadcast news and film classes at USC, UCLA and Loyola Marymount University.
Mc Quade is currently the West Coast bureau chief for O’Dwyer Publications (www.odwyerpr.com), Manhattan, NY, where he writes a monthly column on everything from new media to entertainment publicity and public relations.  McQuade is the former president of Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS), Los Angeles and New York chapters, with nearly 500 publicist members nationwide.
Before MAYO Communications, McQuade was a Los Angeles correspondent for NBC Mutual Radio News, ABC Entertainment News and provided high profile stories as a reporter for KNX, KFI during the LA Riots and was most known as the news voice of KGIL Newstalk 1260 AM in the San Fernando Valley. His last TV news job was as an original writer for Today In LA Weekends, KNBC-TV Ch. 4 News, the first 90-minute weekend news broadcast in the market. He later moved to media relations at the nation’s largest Gas Company (SoCalGas Co.) and was Director of Public Relations at the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.
MAYO Communications (www.MayoCommunications.com) is a full service marketing communications and PR firm with offices in LA, San Diego, New York and Bern, Switzerland, serving celebrity, corporate, government and nonprofit clients. A short list of MAYO clients include: USC, Southern California Leadership Council, SafeMedia Corporation, World-Trade Center LA/LB, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) with Chief Economist Jack Kyser, senior vice president.
On the entertainment side the short list includes: H20 Productions, N.C., Music Artists Eddie Money, Benny Mardones, Stevie Wonder, Saints of the Underground (legendary rock artists from Alice Cooper, Ratt and Warrant) on Warrior Records.
The MAYO niche: “We don’t guarantee media, we just get it!”
For more about MAYO Communications visit: http://www.mayocommunications.com or call 818-340-5300.
About CSU Dominguez Hills — California State University, Dominguez Hills is a highly diverse, urban university located in the South Bay, primarily serving the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The university prides itself on its outstanding faculty and friendly, student-centered environment. Known for excellence in teacher education, nursing, psychology, business administration, and digital media arts, new degree programs include computer science, criminal justice, recreation and leisure studies, social work, and communication disorders. On campus is the Home Depot Center, a multi-purpose sports complex that hosts world-class soccer, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, and cycling.