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Jack O'Dwyer Commentary: PRSA'S Website Woes – Nov. 8, 2005

After reading the following, I can state – unequivocally – that PR students have more PR acumen than the leadership of PRSA.

Be afraid. Very afraid. This is the world’s largest PR association. They claim to be advocates for the profession.

website is “old-fashioned”
“not like the normal website…”

Commentary: PRSA’S Website Woes – Nov. 8, 2005

PRSA Assembly delegates on a Nov. 4 teleconference, after complaining about lack of news about Hurricane Wilma’s impact on the 2005 conference in Miami Beach, were given the preposterous explanation that PRSA does not know how to operate its own website.

It is not unfair to use the following terms to describe the practices by PRSA leadership as: Shameful, Embarrassing, Ignorant, Unprepared and Ill-Equipped to Lead.

The explanations, or excuses, they have offered should be a clear sign to all members that wholesale leadership changes should be made at PRSA. Immediately. Today. If the leadership truly cares about the association and the profession, they will resign immediately.

I have dropped my membership. I do not see leadership among the association’s staff, nor the membership. (Update: I will amend this to say most/some of the membership. To be fair, there have been chapters and individual members that ‘have’ voiced their discontent with PRSA leadership. So, my apologies for the all-encompassing “membership” statement. No one said anything to me about that, but – after re-reading it – I need to be fair.)

You want irony? Today, I received an email pitch to buy a seat in a PRSA teleseminar. The title?

Managing a Crisis in Associations and Nonprofits

Truly laughable.


  1. Funny you should mention it.

    Recently, I have been looking at the PRSA website in order to spark ideas for post content. I’ve only been successful in finding quality content once. As the world’s largest public relation’s association, you would think the website would have more meat to it.

    I would expect, and maybe I’m wrong, that the site would talk about things in the PR world outside of the PRSA. The topics that the site deems newsworthy enough to place in its “news” section in simply link after link of “such-and-such received this award” and “look at what we’re doing.” In my opinion, the news section should involve a little more than what the organization has to brag about. Shouldn’t it also include the organization’s opinions on things affecting those in the PR world? If I were a member of the organization, I would want the website to tell me more than what the organization is doing. If I were involved, wouldn’t I already be aware of that information? The news in the left column of the page is also limited to more horn blowing that is of no interest to me.

    Furthermore, not only the content is lacking. The design leaves much to be desired. So much of the information I was looking for was hidden away in tabs. And to look at, the site is just blah. The website for the Society of Professional Journalists, however, is much easier to navigate and to look at. Hmm. And we wonder why they criticize us for complicating things.

  2. This is very scary! One of the main reasons that I was skeptical about a certain internship possibility was because of their poorly constructed and managed website. Website management and functionability is one of the first things I have looked at when researching a potential internship company or organization. This will immediately let you know whether they “know their stuff.”

    I agree that PRSA needs to step it up and become the leader and role model that it claims to be for the profession. Maybe new leadership is exactly the change that needs to be made. Either way, something must be done and quickly. PR is about reputation and this is just one more thing to add to the list for the critics and cynics.

  3. Jess, I agree. Their site has been lacking from day one. How sad the PRSA hasn’t attempted to lead their members by showcasing the best practices of online implementations.

    Jami, I remember that site. 🙂 Yep, it does help if the company exhibits that they ‘get it’ by their public practice. I think you’ve made the right choices for your internships. Hey, they’ll be lucky to have you.

    Phil, that’s funny. I’m thinking Betty White as “Rose” on “The Golden Girls”. Great show, but frightening character. 😉

    SNCR looks very appealing. I’d love to participate in the society.

  4. I find it amazing that the one Public Relations entity I expected to be abreast of technology has fallen short. I mean aren’t they suppose to set the example and be powered and lead by the best in PR? Hmmm… well after looking over their site I seriously had trouble finding the excuse that “PRSA does not know how to operate its own website” plausible.

    The funny thing is, that they don’t have a horrible website. I mean, like Jess, I had trouble finding useful information to post and yes it leaves some things to be desired but overall the general information was there. In fact in their news section they had up to date information… so why did they choose not to address this situation and claim ignorance in a society where the web is becoming a main tool for the industry.

    They didn’t mention anything about the cancellation, how to contact them about it or when it might be rescheduled if at all. Really with such a big event and the planning that went into it did they not consider a “what if it doesn’t happen” scenario? It’s almost like they figured to hell with it! A little scary if you ask me!