Reich Communications, Inc.

  • Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services. For more info, call us at (212) 573-6000, email to david@reichcommunications or text to 914-325-9997. We are located at 228 East 45th Street, Suite 11-South, New York City 10017

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    November 21, 2011

    Comments

    Jeanne Byington

    David,

    If the CEO can't explain to her Mom what PR is....

    I admit I've used that line myself when instructing a client's dealers or members of an association on the basics of PR to put the audience at ease. But I wouldn’t boast about this to The New York Times.

    If the PRSA can't clearly state what its members and potential members do, what's their use? Why would anyone buy a service they can’t understand? Are they not in business to support their members?

    The mission of this organization should be to clarify what we do and if they can’t put it in a few sentences, and haven’t noticed how lackluster/fuzzy/useless their definition is in all these years, God help the industry. Maybe they should hire us to help them out.

    My impression of what they do is to pat one another on the back and give awards to members with the biggest budgets/most flamboyant programs.

    It may sound as though I am anti-association. Not true: I'm currently on the board of one industry association, have been on boards of others and have been recognized for my contributions to each one. I am frustrated that I wouldn't dream of participating in this one because it would drive me nuts.

    Jeanne Byington

    PS And good luck to them in the social networking world if they can’t succinctly and clearly note what PR people do.

    Sherry Goldman (twitter @sherrygoldmanpr)

    I think PR is trying to come up with a "new definition" of what it does -- people think PR is publicity and that is just a tactic. There are new channels of communicating; social media being just one and one that is trying to be 'claimed' by advertising agencies, web agencies, marketing agencies and more. I think this is a good start to formally redefine the industry that hasn't really redefined itself in decades. I applaud their start in this direction. And, yes, the better we articulate what we do, the better we can "sell ourselves' to clients, etc.

    Rocco Sacci

    
    In my 50+ years of association with PRSA (as a student, a member, staff member and a non-member) always trying to find out what it does, I've found that what it does is, every ten or so years, wage another (yawn) campaign to redefine the profession. Can't help but refer to your blog last week or so about PR practitioners lagging behind in using social media to convey the messages of their clients and organizations to the public. Seems to me PRSA has always lagged behind in communicating what Public Relations is to the general public. This "new" campaign just reinforces my "image" of a dormant professional society that should know your campaign has to be conducted continuously and ongoing, not just every now and again.

    Rocco A. Sacci
    Sacci Public Relations

    David Reich

    Thanks for your comments Jeanne, Sherry and Rocco.

    Sherry, I also applaud PRSA's effort to update the definition of what we do. I hope they can do it successfully, without letting politics get in the way. Like Rocco sand Jeanne, I'm not sure they'll be able to pull it off, but I hope they can since it can help all of us this profession.

    gayle taryn

    More than a slogan or redefinition, I agree that ongoing PR about what we do would be worthwhile in today's world that tosses around the word PR about anything and everything out there. There is absolutely a lack of understanding about what PR is all about -- and that's also in part because everyone from young people with no communications backgrounds to professional journalists represent the field.
    Unfortunately associations aren't driven the way businesses are and usually seem to lag when it comes to the being movers and shakers behind an industry. It would be nice if PRSA can strengthen and clarify definition, elevate the value of what we do, and recognize that the same way advertising succeeds -- through a consistent, persuasive and frequent message -- is what is essential going forward.

    David Reich

    Jack O'Dwyer, who has been covering the PR trade for decades in his O'Dwyer's Newsletter, sent me an advance copy of his blog post about the PRSA hunt for a new definition of PR. Here it is...


    PRSA Wants Definition of PR? Look in Mirror—O’Dwyer
    NYT Ad Column Floats PRSA Plea for Definition of PR

    Stuart Elliott’s ad column in the New York Times yesterday had the headline “Redefining PR in the Age of Social Media” and described PR Society of America’s quest for a new definition of PR.
    Society chair Rosanna Fiske is quoted as saying, “My parents, for the longest time, have been trying to figure out what I do for a living.” Elliott noted that Fiske laughed on making that remark.
    Fiske’s father, according to her biography, is a famous journalist photographer who traveled the world taking pictures of heads of state and other notables. His journalism was the inspiration for her going into PR, she has written.
    Her father, whom she refuses to identify, cannot be proud of what has gone on this year under Fiske’s leadership.
    She and COO Bill Murray signed and circulated on Sept. 1 a 23-page list of charges against this reporter topped off by a ban against any O’Dwyer reporter or “assign” attending any Society function.
    This is the first time in the history of journalism that an organization put a press boycott in writing. It has brought criticism from the National Press Club, PR Watch and a number of individual bloggers. The stain of this action will long remain with PRS, bloggers are saying.
    “By banning O’Dwyer, the Society has lost credibility as an organization that can effectively speak for its members,” blogged Ed Lallo, former director of the PRS and IABC boards in Austin. http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=431287&authType=name&authToken=g-gm&locale=en_US&pvs=pp&trk=ppro_viewmore

    Not only was I banned from covering the Assembly this year (for the first time in 40 years), but so were all reporters. There was no press coverage at all of the Assembly. VP-PR Arthur Yann posted in a LinkedIn PR News Group that the Society “is a private member organization and our national Leadership Assembly is a private meeting of our members. We’re well within our rights to ban any and all reporters from attending.”
    Fiske set a new record for being remote from members, addressing only two chapters—her own Miami chapter and Georgia. That fact has been checked several times with Yann who does not dispute it. She led a drive to boost dues $30 to $255 without ever facing any chapter membership on this issue.
    When a delegate asked her on a teleconference about the high pay of h.q. staffers, she then put all succeeding teleconferences on a “listen-only” mode, blocking any conversations (although the NYT column says that what PR does these days is take part in “conversations” with consumers via LinkedIn, Facebook, the web, etc.).

    Blocked Vital Information
    Fiske was on the 2006 board that blocked any web or print mention of Central Michigan’s attempt to bring Society governance into line with that of the America Bar Assn. and American Medical Assn. (and also in line with Robert’s Rules which supposedly govern the Assembly).
    RR says that if a group has an “assembly” that body tells the board what to do (pages 6-7 and 549 of RR). Such is not the case at the Society. CM’s extensive proposal, with proper legal language, was made in April 2006 but never won a mention in Tactics print or online.
    Ignored last year until a story was put on an inside page of Tactics in September was the quest of the “Committee for a Democratic PRSA” for the right of non-APRs, who make up 80%+ of the membership, to run for the board (a right denied to them since the mid-1970s).
    Society leadership that included Fiske refused to let the Committee e-mail the 21,000 members although staff sends e-mails every day to that membership (except opt-outs).
    Members are not allowed access to the national list of Assembly delegates, do not know what is said in the Assembly (unless they attend in person), and do not know how delegates vote.
    Twenty abusive governance and communications practices were described in a blog Sept. 12, 2011. http://www.odwyerpr.com/blog/index.php?/archives/3227-PRSA-Ethics-Chair-Has-Dubious-Debut.html

    Press Needs Help of PR
    PR’s basic mission was described in 1906 by Ivy Lee who promised his press bureau would answer all questions “most cheerfully.”
    From the point of view of anyone seeking information from an organization, whether they are reporters or bloggers, what they look for from PR people is answers to their questions.
    The mechanics of how those questions are presented and answered is a side issue.
    PR’s mission is bringing truth to an audience and truth in a democracy is determined by vigorous public debate—in person. The courtroom process involves cross-examination of witnesses where facial expressions, body language and other clues can be gauged.

    Journalists Should be on Committee
    Absent from the list of sources sought for the new definition of PR is anyone from the press.
    We have e-mailed a dozen journalist groups and schools details of the Society boycott and asked them to look into this. They should also add their input on how PR pros should perform. PR pros have their hands on a lot of information levers and often control access to CEOs and other news sources.
    Three journalist figures stand out—Sandra Mims Rowe, chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists and chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2002-03; T. Barton Carter, chair of the Dept. of Mass Communication, Boston University, and Tom Rosenstiel, director of Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and vice chair, Committee of Concerned Journalists.
    Rowe was editor of The Oregonian from 1993-2010 during which time it won five Pulitzers including the Gold Medal for Public Service.
    The daughter of newspaper editor D. Latham Mims, Rowe has just joined Arizona State University as Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
    “There could not be a more interesting time to probe the ethical principles of journalism than today, in the midst of this communications revolution that affects all aspects of our culture,” Rowe said in the release announcing her new post. She was on the Pulitzer board from 1994-2003. She described the Cronkite School as “an ideal place to engage the critical questions, decisions and principles of journalists.”

    Carter is Lawyer/PR Professor
    Carter, who has a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, a B.A. from Yale University, and an M.S. from Boston University, was previously head of the Law Division of the Assn. for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and the Law and Policy Division of the Broadcast Education Assn..
    He is a practicing attorney specializing in communication law and the new communications technologies. He coordinates the JD/MS in mass communication dual degree and teaches communications law and telecommunications regulation at the BU School of Law.

    Rosenstiel Was Media Critic, L.A. Times
    Rosenstiel, who has a dual role in journalism leadership as director of Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and vice chair, Committee of Concerned Journalists, was a practicing journalist for 20+ years, serving as media critic of the Los Angeles Times and chief congressional correspondent of Newsweek. He is the author with Bill Kovach of The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. He is the winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard University, the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi awards for research in journalism, and the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism from Pennsylvania State. A former media critic for MSNBC’s “The News with Brian Williams,” he is a frequent commentator on radio and TV programs.

    Jack O'Dwyer

    Alan Hirsch

    I think it should be simple, such as public relations is what you reflect in your everyday actions running your business, whatever it is. It is the attempt to make people think well of what you are doing.

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