Move over, Murdoch.
You might have some competition in the realm of phone hacking.
The Public Relations Society of America is claiming the longtime PR industry watcher Jack O’Dwyer listened to five of the group’s teleconferences without permission.
In a statement
posted to PRSA’s website on Friday, the organization’s vice president of PR Arthur Yann said:
Mr. O'Dwyer, while a free press is essential to our country, principles, and profession, not everything—or everyone—wrapped in the mantle of "journalism" is right or ethical, as the News of the World scandal demonstrates. But then again, it would appear that your organization condones such practices, given that records from our teleconferencing vendor show that telephone numbers registered to the J.R. O'Dwyer Company connected to PRSA teleconference calls without PRSA's permission five times between May 22, 2007, and May 12, 2009.
O’Dwyer has long criticized PRSA, which has mostly stayed quiet. The statement from Yann is in response to a blog post from O’Dwyer
that calls into question PRSA’s auditing practices. Yann’s statement first appeared as a comment to the post.
Advertising Age reported on the claim on Tuesday
, a story that the PRSA said it did not pursue. The Ad Age
piece questions why the organization would choose to make this charge now, when it’s known about the alleged hacking for years.
William Murray, the president and chief operating officer of PRSA, told Ad Age
that the organization—which is in “deep discussions” about a dues increase—wanted to ensure its members “have all the accurate information about what we do with their money.”
In an emailed statement to PR Daily
, Keith Trivitt, the associate director of public relations at PRSA, said the organization also responded because of the increasing focus on journalism and business ethics.
“Back in 1994, when Mr. O’Dwyer first began making these allegations against PRSA, there really wasn’t as robust of a discussion taking place about journalism and business ethics,” he explained. “Now, with the News Corp. hacking scandal, not to mention Jayson Blair a few years back and many cases of unethical business practices, people are well attuned to discussions around this and are concerned when they believe that certain companies are acting unethically against another.”
Yann’s statement rejects the allegations made by O’Dwyer, calling for him to stop publishing “false and defamatory” information.
Echoing this statement, Trivitt told PR Daily
: “Bloggers cannot wrap themselves in the mantle of journalism while at the same time ignoring journalistic ethics by publishing false, misleading, and otherwise defamatory information.”
He added that the statement about O’Dwyer is “consistent with PRSA’s efforts to educate the public relations profession on what constitutes ethical behavior and what doesn’t.”
In an email to PR Daily
, O'Dwyer said the issue is not whether "members or others told me what happened on PRSA teleconferences," but how PRSA's elected leaders and its staff avoid the press and its members.
"All those teleconferences should be open to the press," he said. "There should be no teleconferences. The leaders/staff should meet members in person with the press present, something they have avoided for many years."
In another email, O'Dwyer added: "I'm not going to admit to any wrongdoing whatsoever because neither I nor anyone from the O'Dwyer Co. has done anything wrong."