Posted by Amanda Chapel
Well, Don King himself could not have scripted this better. At the pre-fight weigh in for PR Industry heavyweights Jack O'Dwyer and Bill Murray, the young challenger Murray cold-cocked the champ leaving him bloodied, incensed and a bit dazed; and then, an all out fracas ensued.
LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!
To describe the crazy scene requires a little background. Jack has been the undisputed champ in PR using the Public Relations Society of America as his veritable workout bag for some time. More recently with the hiring of PRSA's new president Murray, some insiders say Jack's really turned up the heat apparently looking to provoke a confrontation. Dogs pee on trees and men fight. Why? Because. It's a testosterone thing. That said, Jack has variously called Murray out literally peppering PRSA with various insults and accusations. "Your mamma!", not quite but almost.
Well, on Friday, Murray, who's been at the helm of the association for less than 8 weeks, decided "enough was enough." He proceeded to send an e-mail to an estimated 500 plus industry "leaders" accusing O'Dwyer of "constant and repetitive requests frequently accompanied by abusive language and threats" followed by "a long series of editorials which are inaccurate."
Murray's jab stopped a hair short of publicly calling Jack a dirty liar. Some believe he did. He said, "Despite PRSA's continued outreach and reams of supporting data and information, the newsletter's PRSA coverage remains antagonistic, misleading and in many cases just wrong."
"In many cases wrong!"? Jack?! Youza!! Jack immediately shouted back, "The letter does not go into specifics of any of the criticisms that have been placed on PRSA by this website."
Well, we immediately asked PRSA for those specifics; and PRSA responded directly. We then presented them to Jack for comment.
What comes to mind? HBO's hit boxing series. JACK "THE HITMAN" O'DWYER VS. BILL "SHOWBIZ" MURRAY, from the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Ct. What follows is the pre-fight sampling. Here Jack and Murray trade blows. Here you'll find Jack's assertions followed by PRSA's answers and then followed by Jack's counter. What a heart-pumping preview of things to come.
FIGHT PROMOTERS ONLY NEED TO AGREE ON TWO THINGS: DATE AND VENUE
In Jack's words:
- "PRSA is simply not answering any of my questions, but talking around them."
- "They’re such hypocrites, saying they believe in the “highest standards of truth and accuracy.”
- "This stuff can’t be covered in an exchange of written materials. The answers and questions are so long that few will read them. Most people have made up their minds about me and PRSA. You could rain down the wildest arguments against PRSA and the loyalist “leaders” won’t listen to one of them."
Jack's right. As such, we STRONGLY recommend that Murray agree to debate Jack in a public forum directly. For the good of the profession, let's set the date and secure the venue today.
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From Jack O’Dwyer, odwyerpr.com
PRSA’s statement that its “finances are healthy” cries out for a rebuttal.
It brags that its 2006 revenues are “near $12 million” and net assets are more than $2.8 million. So assets are about 23% of revenues. But 15 years ago, PRSA’s revenues were $5.2M and its net assets were $1.6M, or 30% of revenues.
This is progress?
But wait. PRSA’s 2005 “assets” of $2.6M included nearly $2 million of unearned dues payments (not quite half of $4.4M in dues because $312,000 was deferred to cover the future cost of the Tactics and Strategist publications).
The unearned dues should be a liability, not an asset. That means the real net assets of PRSA were about $1M on Dec. 31, 2005 on revenues of $10.2M.
Let’s go back to 1991 when PRSA was doing the proper thing–deferring about half of its dues.
The deferred dues amount that year was $904,767 on dues of $2.1M. This was carried as a liability which is what it is. If we add back the $600,000 of the $904,767 (allowing $300,000 for the publications), the percentage of net assets to revenues would rise to 47%. PRSA is far behind its financial position in 1991. Its real net assets are about 10% of its revenues.
The Society says that immediately booking a year’s advance dues payments as cash is “perfectly acceptable” since the dues are “non-refundable.” But none of the professional associations do this (AMA, ABA, ASAE, AICPA, IABC) although they don’t refund dues either.
PRSA’s behavior does not jibe with its ethics code pledge to “the highest standards of accuracy and truth.” These are the lowest standards of accounting, an industry that was so rife with wrongful reporting that the stiff Sarbanes-Oxley Act had to be passed in 2002.
The phrase “perfectly acceptable” reminds us of Marie Antoinette’s quote, “Let them eat cake.” It’s time that the aristocracy of PRSA was dethroned.
PRSA was technically insolvent in 2000 when it couldn’t afford to publish its annual directory of members for the first time in its history. It reported a loss of $1,055,181 for the 1999-2000 years.
PRSA skipped the beloved Blue Book of members in 2000 but “leaders” spent a record $717,748 on travel, meals and hotels including a trip by the entire board to London for four days to meet with the Institute of PR. Members were outraged and we quoted many in the O’Dwyer Newsletter.
What I'm looking forward to is some WWE-style grappling with the IABC, Council for PR Firms and the Arthur W. Page Society joining the fracas. I suspect Jack could knock out all of them plus the PRSA with the proverbial one hand tied behind his back!