Jack O'Dwyer has been covering the Public Relations business with his weekly newsletter for more than 40 years. Part of his coverage includes reporting about and commenting on the industry's primary trade association, PRSA.
Jack does his job -- covering the Association, reporting on happenings, chasing down rumors and exposing questionable practices. He's been pushing for years for PRSA to have greater transparency and more responsible spending of members' money.
Because the leaders of PRSA don't like his coverage of them, they've been trying to boycott him by preventing him from covering news of their group. He was not allowed to attend and cover sessions at the 2011 National PRSA Conference, and last year he was even prevented from speaking with attendees outside the sessions, in the hotel lobby. He was, in fact, physically escorted out of the hotel by security guards and told not to come back.
The National Press Club has issued a statement condemning the boycott.
What an embarrassment for the PR industry. Of all groups, an association of public relations professionals should know better than to try to boycott a legitimate media representative. Shame on PRSA for setting such a bad example!
I have no clout with PRSA. I haven't been a member for more than 20 years and I don't think I know any of the group's current leaders. But still, I say PRSA is dead wrong to take action like this. I urge them to reconsider.
Part of an email Jack sent to PR leaders is reproduced below...
Relations between the J.R. O'Dwyer Co. and PRSA were mostly normal from 2001 - 2006 when Catherine Bolton was COO. But they have grown not only considerably worse, but intolerable. I was blocked from all sessions at the 2011 conference in Orlando although allowed to stand in the hallways and talk with people. But in 2012 I was not only barred from all the sessions in S.F., but guards forbid me to talk to anyone in the hallways. When I talked to someone in the main lobby, a guard said I had to leave and walked me to the door, shoulder-to-shoulder. The threat was I would be forcibly evicted if I didn't leave. I was told not to come back.
See our Jan. 7 editorial which shows the reasons the Society abandoned its enforceable code of ethics.
--- Jack O'Dwyer