If six influential figures in the PR industry get their way, a major change will occur within the Public Relations Society of America.
On Monday, an ad hoc committee of PRSA members asked for support to amend the society’s decades-old requirement that only members Accredited in Public Relations (APR) can hold national director or officer positions.
There are approximately 21,000 members of the PRSA, but only about 5,000 have their APR, which is the profession’s sole national post-graduation certification program.
“We do not believe that democracy is being served in PRSA so long as a small minority of its members can hold elective office,” the committee said in a statement. “We believe that many worthy members of PRSA who meet national leadership criteria in many other ways are being deprived of the opportunity to serve the organization.”
The six members of the committee are
• Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman PR
• Art Stevens, managing partner of StevensGouldPincus
• Dave Rickey, the senior vice president of communications at Birmingham Business Alliance and the bylaws revision chair of PRSA
• Sandra Fathi, president and founder of agency Affect Strategies
• Bill Doescher, president and CEO of DoescherGroup
• Deborah Radman, senior vice president/director at CK-PR.
The group hopes to collect 1,000 signatures from accredited and non-accredited members of PRSA through an online petition. If it achieves this goal, the group will then forward the petition to the PRSA Assembly in Washington, D.C., on October 15, and it will urge the assembly to remove APR as a barrier to PRSA leadership.
PRNewser blog reported that a similar petition was presented to the Assembly last year and failed to pass.
In a blog post on PRSA’s PRSAY blog, 2010 society chair Gary McCormick, wrote: “The committee is following a time-honored, democratic tradition of bringing forward important issues for the PRSA Assembly to debate and decide — on behalf of all society members. Like it or not, this is the way that the egalitarian governance process functions at PRSA.”
In a statement sent to PRNewser, McCormick said, “PRSA's current Board of Directors has not taken any position in support of or against the proposed amendment. Individual board members, like all delegates to the PRSA Assembly, will be free to vote in favor of or against the amendment, as they determine.”
With this move, the group, which calls itself The Committee for a Democratic PRSA, is not trying to belittle APR. In its statement, the committee insisted, “We believe that accreditation is a hallmark for professional improvement but not for governance. If PRSA is to become the relevant professional organization it can be then this accreditation requirement must end here and now.”
Here's the press release from The Committee for a Democratic PRSA:
AD HOC COMMITTEE FORMED BY PRSA LEADERS TO REMOVE ACCREDITATION AS REQUIREMENT FOR LEADERSHIP
May 10, 2010, NEW YORK, NY --- An ad hoc committee has been formed by a group of six members of PRSA to petition PRSA members to remove the requirement for PRSA board members and officers to be APR accredited in order to hold office.
The goal of the effort will be to reach out to both accredited and non-accredited PRSA members through an online petition to gather at least 1,000 signatures. The signatures will then be forwarded to the PRSA Assembly which will be urged to remove APR as a barrier to PRSA leadership going forward.
The ad hoc committee consists of a combination of PRSA Fellows, APR’s, members and leaders in the PR industry. They include Richard Edelman, Bill Doescher, Art Stevens, Deborah Radman, Sandra Fathi and David Rickey.
The committee issued this statement:
“We are calling on PRSA to abandon the decades old requirement that its national officers and board members be accredited.
Less than 20% of PRSA members are accredited meaning that 80% of the 21,000 members cannot become PRSA leaders unless they choose to become APR.
We do not believe that democracy is being served in PRSA so long as a small minority of its members can hold elective office. We believe that many worthy members of PRSA who meet national leadership criteria in many other ways are being deprived of the opportunity to serve the organization.
We believe that accreditation is a hallmark for professional improvement but not for governance. If PRSA is to become the relevant professional organization it can be then this accreditation requirement must end here and now.”
Richard Edelman is CEO of the world’s largest independent PR firm, Edelman. Bill Doescher has served PRSA as president of the PRSA Foundation and member of the PRSA-NY executive committee.
Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA is a former officer and board member of PRSA national and president of PRSA-NY. Deborah Radman, APR, Fellow PRSA was last year’s president of PRSA-NY as well as former chairman of the Counselors Academy. Sandra Fathi is president-elect of PRSA-NY and past-president of PRSA’s Technology section. David Rickey, APR is a former PRSA board member and chair of its bylaws revision task force.
They have formed this ad hoc committee to help make PRSA more relevant and democratic and are committed to helping to implement the means to which PRSA can reach out to more potential national leaders.