Posts Tagged ‘Jack O’Dwyer’

As a former board member of the Public Relations Society of America (2008-09), and having been involved with PRSA for over 20 years, I am thrilled to see the rebuttal to Jack O’Dwyer from last Friday:     http://media.prsa.org/article_display.cfm?article_id=2181  and to see the rebuttal quoted in both Ad Age:   http://adage.com/article/agency-news/pr-group-accuses-writer-phone-hacking/228801/    and Ragan’s PR Daily:   http://prdaily.com/Main/Articles/8965.aspx      .  The beginning of PRSA’s rebuttal reads thus:

“Mr. O’Dwyer, while a free press is essential to our country, principles and profession, not everything—or everyone—wrapped in the mantle of “journalism” is right or ethical, as the News of the World scandal demonstrates. But then again, it would appear that your organization condones such practices, given that records from our teleconferencing vendor show that telephone numbers registered to the J.R. O’Dwyer Company connected to PRSA teleconference calls without PRSA’s permission five times between May 22, 2007, and May 12, 2009.

“You’ve now repeated the lie that PRSA’s auditors “quit” so often that you’ve clearly come to believe it’s true. Yet, when Gary McCormick and Bill Murray met with you last Spring, they answered this allegation. They explained to you that PRSA routinely seeks competitive bids for professional services, including audit services, to manage costs. They also explained that it’s common for organizations to change auditors periodically as a way of maintaining the auditor’s independence.

I well remember some of those phone calls.  We were asked several times if we knew of someone who was on the call but had not announced themselves; we were told that it was suspected that someone might have leaked information about confidential board discussions.  I don’t know that the latter ever actually happened — but it should come as no surprise to anyone that sometimes boards need to be able to discuss things in private.  Board members need to be free to examine any number of angles to any given topic or issue put in front of them.  Certainly personnel discussions have to be private, by law.   I had then, and still have now,  tremendous respect and admiration for my fellow board members. I didn’t suspect anyone, and didn’t want to have to suspect anyone.  Apparently – allegedly – it might have been Mr. O’Dwyer all along, a man (just using the generic term here) with a life-long compulsion to tear down PRSA.

Before I even took my position on the board, he called me to ask if I really knew what I was doing.  Later, he wrote that I must be more involved in advertising than public relations, because the name of my company was AdScripts – and that’s all he knew about my company.  He never asked me, nor did he do any homework, to find out that I’ve long specialized in public relations (and now teach it) but just never bothered to change the name of my company because it was too entrenched.

I was far from the only person contacted.    PRSA has kept a dignified silence about many of O’Dwyer’s activities, preferring to work behind the scenes to try to resolve things.

There is no resolving them.  We are simply dealing with someone who holds a lifetime grudge and makes money by doing so.  He is not the first person to make money in this way, but he certainly adds a whole new level of sleaze to the deal.

I’m glad that I’m no longer on the board in this instance, because it feels lovely to feel free to speak out in greater defense of PRSA.  Mr. O’Dwyer, you pander to the lowest levels of human thought and behavior; PRSA, on the other hand, not only follows the rules – as required by law – but works to bring out and develop the best in the 22,000 professionals it serves.   Quite a difference in focus, I’d say.

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