Today, Aaron Perlut penned a piece for Forbes magazine titled “The Case of Jack O’Dwyer vs. PRSA” that explores the titular conflict. Unfortunately it’s woefully incomplete and devolves into an exercise in false equivalency.
Here are some of the major problems with the Perlut piece:
1. Though he discloses his connection to both sides (being a PRSA member and actually writing for O’Dwyer’s isn’t a legitimate enough equivalency to establish neutrality), Perlut goes to heroic lengths to paint the conflict as a wash with both sides sharing blame:
“I should note that I’ve got a lot of connectivity here on both sides: I’ve been a PRSA member, my cousin Michael Cherenson – who doesn’t invite me to his beach house enough — is the past PRSA chairman, and I also periodically contribute to O’Dwyers because there’s a guy there with a mustache who I really like.”
2. Perlut also fails to note that O’Dwyer reserves precisely the same tactics for everyone he believes owes him money – not just PRSA (something readily accessible to anyone with access to Google). When some major PR firms declined to pay to be part of his listing service – he turned his faux-journalistic enterprise into a cudgel in a feeble attempt to bludgeon them into paying up.
3. Whereas O’Dwyer’s allegations against PRSA are wild conjecture – PRSA has empirical, verifiable, quantifiable evidence that O’Dwyer’s organization has not only surreptitiously hacked into members-only PRSA teleconferences, but into the members-only area of PRSA’s website as well. Somehow Perulut manages to completely ignore these facts.
4. Perlut paints O’Dwyer as a journalist, yet he never acknowledges that O’Dwyer’s financial conflict of interest ethically prohibits him from reporting on PRSA.
You can’t reason with unreasonable people like Jack O’Dwyer, as PRSA has found time and time again as he’s spit in the face of the organization while it bends over backwards to accommodate his increasingly outlandish requests (which all end with demands to promote his products – again reinforcing the reality that this is really just about money).
Anyone who has ever been the target of a Jack O’Dwyer witch hunt will recognize this bit of copy (awkwardly inserted toward the end of many emails I’ve received):
“The chapter has the opportunity to correct the record and withdraw all those false statements about me and the O’Dwyer Co. and replace them with the truth–that the five O’Dwyer products are all excellent and are in wide use. They are our website with nearly 10 years of searchable materials; our directory of 1,700 PR firms; our monthly magazine now in its 24th year; our PR Buyer’s Guide to 1,000 products and services in 57 categories, and our weekly newsletter, now in its 43rd year.”
I’ve personally witnessed O’Dwyer fall asleep at a PRSA conference and take photos during an assembly where they were expressly prohibited. He also left me these insane voicemails when he mistakenly thought I was some sort of dissident he was going to be able to use to sling dirt at PRSA (when I wouldn’t play the role he wanted me to, he flip-flopped and started lobbing wild accusations at me):
If O’Dwyer is treated differently than other journalists covering PRSA events – it’s because he’s proven time and time again that he’s not a journalist.
Fortunately the adage Perlut cites (that it’s inadvisable to argue with those who buy barrels of ink) is nearing the end of its relevance because pixels are the new ink and they’re free to all. Even still – I’d love to see what O’Dwyer’s circulation numbers are and how much traffic he gets on his site/blog – I’m betting it doesn’t hold a candle to the reach of PRSA.