A Tale of Two Assemblies at PRSA

Update 11/16/09: Longtime PRSA national leader, Art Stevens writes a strongly worded editorial in Bulldog Reporter this week regarding APRs and national leadership. I agree with Art on this one. It goes well beyond “inside baseball.” A must read for all PRSA members.

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To most of us, the workings of the PRSA National Assembly is “inside baseball.” That is, unless you’re part of the governing body, you tend not to know or care what’s going on. I have little interest in PRSA politics, but I’m struck by what I’m calling “A Tale of Two Assemblies,” one presented by PRSA, the other by newsletter editor Jack O’Dwyer.

From O’Dwyer’s newsletter yesterday:

An aroused PRSA Assembly rejected (175-103) the board’s attempt to turn it into an advisory body and also rejected just about every other major plank in the bylaws revision. The revised bylaws were then accepted overwhelmingly.

Voted down were attempts to make all national directors “at large”; sprinkle “communications” throughout the bylaws and in the Preamble; place a sitting board member as nominating committee chair; let the board expel any member at its “sole discretion”; allow non-APRs as directors or officers; allow 25+ national committee heads to vote in the Assembly, and let the national board create additional classes of Assembly delegates.

Contrast O’Dwyer’s take on the Assembly outcome with PRSA’s news release on the topic:

Delegates to the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Assembly overwhelmingly approved a new set of bylaws that strengthen the Society. New provisions were adopted that give the Nominating Committee greater flexibility in proposing candidates for board service, establish a “Leadership Assembly” to focus on issues of concern to the profession, and move the organization closer to the direct election of directors and officers for the National board.

The Assembly adopted the comprehensive slate of changes to PRSA’s bylaws, which become effective immediately, by a final tally of 264 to 20. In most cases, the revisions successfully attached amendments proposed by Assembly Delegates to the original changes suggested by the Bylaws Rewrite Task Force.

PRSA’s release quotes CEO Michael Cherenson: “While there is always a tendency is to look for winners and losers in a process such as this, I’m certain that those who were in the room today would all agree that it’s the future of PRSA that emerged on top.”

Attempts by O’Dwyer to elicit a comment from PRSA leadership met with the usual resistance. PRSA doesn’t talk to Jack, and it’s been that way for some time. From the O’Dwyer’s story:

Chair Mike Cherenson and bylaws chair Dave Rickey, asked to comment on the rejection of so many of the bylaw recommendations, refused to do so.

Cherenson, asked what he would say about the near total rejection of the bylaw committee recommendations, “If that’s the way you want to characterize it, that’s your opinion.” He would not comment further. Rickey, asked the same question, said he had no comment and added that he did not want to be quoted saying no comment. He turned away.

I’m guessing that the truth of this story lies somewhere between the two extremes. But this tweet from PRSA Chair-elect Rosanne Fiske has me wondering. But like I said, for the average PRSA member wondering these hallways in San Diego, it’s inside baseball.

FiskeyTweet

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