While it may not be on the level of resignations, arrest and hearings before Parliament, PR has its own version of the News Corp. phone hacking scandal—and if you've following the plot line over the years, the story is equally intriguing.
On July 19 AdAge reported that the Public Relations Society of America has accused venerable PR scribe Jack O'Dwyer of "hacking" into PRSA phone conference calls between 2007 and 2009, then writing stories about what had gone on during the meetings. If you follow O'Dwyer or are a PRSA member, you'll be familiar with O'Dwyer's critiques of the PRSA—particularly of a lack of financial transparency. At times, O'Dwyer's coverage could be described as fanatical, but the PRSA and its VP of PR Arthur Yann have shown some public restraint in responding to O'Dwyer—often just ignoring him.
Not so this time. In response, O'Dwyer tells PR News that the allegation is "bull____." He says PRSA members called him up and told him directly what was going on in those conferences. "Plus, those meetings should be public record anyway," he adds. O'Dwyer sums up the PRSA's actions against him as "caveman stuff."
Steve Cody, managing partner at Peppercom and an interested observer of the O'Dwyer/PRSA dust-up, calls the hacking allegation "intriguing," and says this latest spat will definitely spice up the summer. "PR was in need of a juicy scandal," says Cody. Although July 4 has come and gone, when it comes to the PRSA and Jack O'Dwyer, the fireworks are year-round.