NEW YORK: The Council of PR Firms has named its new directors and
officers: a team of CEOs, many of whom come from small independent
agencies, countering criticism that the council is big-firm-biased.
John Graham, Fleishman-Hillard chairman and CEO, will be the Council
board's new chairman. He is joined on the Council's new team of officers
by Rich Jernstedt, Golin/Harris International CEO; Helen Vollmer, CEO of
Vollmer PR; and Horn Group CEO Sabrina Horn.
The new directors joining the board are all CEOs of mid-size or boutique
shops: Cathy Dunkin, The Standing Partnership; Joe Epley, Epley
Associates; Sandy Harbrecht, Paul Werth Associates; Gwin Johnston,
Johnston Wells; Leif Noren, Creative Response Concepts; Claudia
Gaines-Patton, The Headline Group; and Ron Rogers, Rogers &
"Of 18 members of the board, 11 are independents, as are two of the four
officers," said outgoing president, Jack Bergen. "Governance is
effectively in the hands of the independents."
The top nine firms pay $50,000 each to the council, making up 40%
of its income, while mid-size firms pay another 51% of income, and 44
small firms pay the minimum $2,500.
"The big firms should be praised for taking responsibility for the
profession," said Applied Communications CEO, Alan Kelly. "When we
joined, we were a small agency, frustrated with the options available to
us. The council has done more for the PR consulting business in the last
three years than anything else in my career, and it embraces a
remarkable range of firms. I don't buy the idea it's exclusive, but some
have a political interest in exacerbating a divide."