While grappling for relevancy, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has released a new white paper document on “The Ethical Use of AI,” authored by members of PRSA’s Board of Ethics & Professional Standards (BEPS), which… for the record… actually is not a “board” at all, but an advisory committee with no governance authority in the organization whatsoever.
The white paper issues warnings about hypothetical uses of Artificial Intelligence that the authors call out as unethical.
PRSA forces its members unwittingly to “check the box” with blanket approval of these “MyPRSA Community Guidelines” if they want to have access to PRSA’s mandated member-only intranet platform for registering for any PRSA National event or gaining access to even the most basic member benefits, like the membership directory for networking purposes.
When this iteration of unethical MyPRSA Community Guidelines were imposed on the membership in September 2020, I actually read every word of this verbose and legally complex document — much to PRSA’s horror — and thus refused to “check the box.”
Therefore, I was then immediately denied access to the MyPRSA member platform going forward… which rendered useless my investment of member dues.
Interestingly, these new Guidelines had materialized out of thin air in September 2020 only weeks after I had used MyPRSA in July 2020 to openly question and hold accountable PRSA National leadership for 1) documented financial discrepancies dating back to 2018, when Tony D’Angelo was chair and 2) PRSA’s non-compliance with claims of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” values which, at the time, many others in the PR industry also were protesting on grounds of meaningless lip-service, quite rightly.
Not satisfied with my refusal to sign away my own rights – including my rights as a member to sue PRSA for its misconduct in misreporting its financials on MyPRSA (which had been going on for years) – PRSA National launched an unlawful, retaliatory expulsion action against me only four months later (which literally was CEO Linda Thomas Brooks’ first order of business upon being hired in January 2021).
- Per this excerpt (and others pasted below), PRSA’s AI Ethics white paper appears to advocate against plagiarism and “infring(ing) on intellectual property rights” of others:
Meanwhile, though, PRSA’s unethical MyPRSA Community Guidelines require that PRSA members who publish comments or upload resources in the Community’s discussion forums must sign away their rights of authorship to their own ideas, words, and intellectual property, as per the mandated sign-off that “All materials published or available on MyPRSA…are the property of PRSA…”
PRSA also makes provision that members’ posted content can also be made the property of whomever else PRSA might arbitrarily choose to fritter it away (“…licensors, sponsors, partners, advertisers…” etc.):
Even worse, MyPRSA Guidelines force members to allow PRSA to hold full authority to take members’ comments and intellectual property that members share with colleagues in good faith on the platform and then repurpose that content — without notice or permission — for PRSA’s own money-making profit, with neither any compensation to the member (original author) nor even the courtesy of PRSA giving rightful attribution… which in and of itself is a PRSA Code of Ethics violation but that PRSA now codifies in its MyPRSA Guidelines as perfectly legal and acceptable.
Read it for yourself:
It basically says that PRSA can violate your intellectual property rights (or any other rights as enumerated) on its MyPRSA platform from here to Sunday, but all that you as a member agree you’ll ever be entitled to in compensation for such violations you suffer is $100.
Further, you must pre-indemnify not only PRSA but also its highly compromised Board of Directors who knowingly are allowing all kinds of violations.
Plus, if you wish to pursue your claim for your paltry $100, you must “EXPRESSLY WAIVE() TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW” any “RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY” (the all-caps are PRSA’s, lest you overlook this live-or-die tenet of PRSA’s own brand of due-process).
2. The PRSA / BEPS AI Ethics white paper appears to advocate for “the transparency of financial reporting,” the “(analysis of) financial data,” and “the credibility of that financial information,” although it’s notable that BEPS openly engages in hand-wringing over anything that “makes it difficult for a practitioner to claim plausible deniability when failing to accurately represent corporate performance”… since plausible deniability is arguably PRSA National’s most essential competency in the arena of ethical and legal non-compliance:
I wrote a blog post only a few months ago warning PRSA National Assembly delegates of PRSA National’s / Headquarters’ repeated, multi-year non-compliance with New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation Law financial disclosures, amid literally millions in net losses of member dollars and rife reporting discrepancies.
As but one example (of many other documented examples), PRSA’s then-treasurer Joseph Abreu reported at the 2022 Assembly – according to PRSA’s own Board-approved meeting minutes – that PRSA only “expects a small operating deficit this year.”
Only days earlier (excerpt below), Abreu himself along with PRSA CFO Philip Bonaventura told the PRSA Board in a closed-door meeting that “As of August 31, PRSA showed a net operations deficit of $652,996,” which is not “small” by any standard in PRSA… particularly given that Abreu knew PRSA was confronting a likely money-losing International Conference ahead, so the losses being racked-up in 2022 were only going to grow in magnitude.
In February 2023, the bomb got dropped in another closed-door PRSA National Board meeting by Bonaventura that – Whoopsies! – the actual “projected net loss” for 2022 was $1,070,000.
Not exactly a “small operating deficit.”
Yet no alert was posted by PRSA National on MyPRSA nor anywhere else to inform members and to correct PRSA’s mal-information record.
This behavior – Ladies and Gentlemen – is called corruption…
…purposely telling dues-paying members a load of mal-informational garbage with intent to mislead by diverting truthful data and sugarcoating dire financial problems, to members’ own disadvantage and detriment.
This egregious standard of practice in PRSA has been going on for years.
Consequently, there is no “plausible deniability” by Abreu or by current PRSA National Chair Michelle Egan (on whose Board watch these practices have been going on incessantly, including during her own two years as PRSA National Treasurer).
3. PRSA’s Board of Ethics & Professional Standards postures that it actually cares about such matters as “correcting the information / record” “if a practitioner spots disinformation,” and that “We must hold to our core value of honesty and be willing to identify and openly admonish those who pretend to be something they are not”…
BEPS needs to get a reality check…
…because as is current practice by such personalities as Tony D’Angelo, Mark McClennan and Mike Cherenson (who are given “special thanks” on Page 10 of BEPS’s white paper), these specific individuals have made it their own, personal practice to retaliate against the very people – namely, me – who have “openly admonished” PRSA for its illegal activities occurring with these men’s knowledge, given that I issued private reports for years about documented violations to these very individuals (or copied to them).
There is no “plausible deniability” by any of them.
Apparently, these men’s preference in misusing power by harming PRSA members’ affiliation status when said members reject PRSA National’s violations of ethics and law is far more important than being truthful.
Instead, showboating in service to PRSA’s precious “reputation” is the only real priority worthy of their consideration.
Unless you as a PRSA member want to become a target of PRSA leadership — who will not tolerate any criticisms of a PRSA brand that otherwise primarily serves to validate their fragile egos – do not discuss with any PRSA colleagues your own dire concerns on the MyPRSA member-only intranet platform.
What you may be misled to assume is that your own private chats or conversations using MyPRSA’s DM function are that… private and confidential.
But guess again.
If you “checked the box” to “Agree” with their “Guidelines,” your DMs on MyPRSA will actually be subject to monitoring and snooping by PRSA Headquarters and by anyone they allow as “inner circle” to their cabal, as per what can only be described as the MyPRSA Community Guidelines’ “Big Brother” clause:
So, for example, if you’ve tried to have a private direct-message chat with a PRSA colleague to discuss via MyPRSA chat function any highly unethical and compromised PRSA bylaw changes or your concerns about lack of PRSA financial transparency, then please know that Headquarters and national staff and board leadership have open access to all of that stuff.
Have you been denied serving on a national committee or other leadership post, or been turned away from selection in College of Fellows or other worthy honor of your career contributions, without any logical explanation?
Well, maybe you now have your answer.
What’s most sad is that these issues matter for the reputation of the PR industry.
When PRSA violates trust, then the organization is essentially telling every one of its members (and students) that employing the same tactics is OK.
And that’s not OK.