"It's not the Arthur Page Society itself that has taken a position; they are not involved," explained Art Stevens, managing partner of StevensGouldPincus and a member of the Committee. "We happened to use that list because the Arthur Page Society consists of top corporate communications executives."
Stevens went on to say the Committee is not against the APR, as he and others signing the petition are APR certified, but they do not think it should be a requirement to be a leader within PRSA.
In May, the Committee announced its intentions and reached out to PRSA members to sign the petition. Within the past month, it approached Page Society members, and 65 of them signed the petition, which now has more than 340 online signatures. The goal is to get 1,000 signatures and then persuade the PRSA Assembly to vote on a bylaw ending the requirement that PR professionals must be APR certified to be a national officer or board member. The Assembly next meets in October.
The new corporate communications professionals that signed the petition include Gary Sheffer, executive director of corporate communications and public affairs for GE; Chris Hosford, executive director of corporate communications for Hyundai Motor America; Dan Lewis, global chief public affairs officer for Molson Coors Brewing; Gillian Nash, CCO and VP at Levi Strauss & Co; and Gregory Rossiter, director of media relations, and Carol Schumacher, VP of investor relations, both with Wal-Mart.
In April, the Universal Accreditation Board reported that 53 PR professionals passed the examination for accreditation in PR during the second quarter, a drop from 60 in the first quarter of 2010. Of PRSA's 21,000 members, approximately 20% are APR certified.
The Arthur W. Page Society declined to comment. The PRSA responded to PRWeek via e-mail, stating that its position had not changed since the Committee originally came forward in May.
Gary McCormick, the 2010 chair and CEO of the PRSA, said in the organization's statement: "The Committee is following a time-honored, democratic tradition of bringing forward important issues that the Assembly, on behalf of all PRSA members, can debate and determine. When the ad hoc committee obtains the necessary signatures and forwards the language it would like the Assembly to consider, PRSA will develop an outreach program to raise awareness of the proposed amendment."
Stevens said the Committee will now launch a "grassroots campaign that is going to be aimed at [PRSA] assembly delegates, because they are the ones who ultimately have to make the decision."