Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stealth and Exposure important in fight against corruption - Contractor General to PRSJ

Kingston, April 11, 2013

The Contractor General Dirk Harrison said that the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) will not continue to announce its investigation of persons who do not play by the rules, as this allows witnesses and wrongdoers to go into hiding.

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Public Relations Society of Jamaica (PRSJ) on April 4 in Kingston, Mr Harrison said, “If an investigation is being conducted, we shall not tell the entire country that we are coming for that person...When we announce that we are doing a possible investigation one scares away possible witnesses, one scares away the subject.”

Mr Harrison used as a highlight the fact that none of the 41 recommendations of the OGC over four years had been brought forward for prosecution; and that the way forward will be to do the investigation quietly. He noted that this approach also reduced the possibility of persons, such as media, being open to charges of libel.

Despite the stealth approach now being practiced by the OCG, Mr Harrison also said that public exposure through the media would also be important to its arsenal of tactics.
“The Office of the Contractor General has to utilise the tool and the weapon of public exposure. It is the only tool available and as such the OCG must continue to be visible and vocal,” he said.
Noting the role for robust communication in anti-corruption, Mr Harison said, “I think it is important for the media to let the public know what is happening. Oftentime we don’t know what happens in the courts, we don’t know about investigations. I think the media has a vital and very important role to play in letting Jamaica know what is happening.”

Mr Harrison demonstrated his understanding of good public relations as he said that he had been meeting with stakeholders to promote the inclusion of the OCG at the commencement of any government contract process. He gave high marks to the Ministry of Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining (MSTEM) for its procedures to prepare for the auction of the 70MHz band. Mr Harrison said that the approach supports investment in the industry, and helps to avoid litigation and other ugly matters and contentions in the long term.

The PRSJ AGM marked the 32nd anniversary of the society and saw the swearing in of the 2013 executive: President, Christopher Benjamin; First Vice President, Rohan Powell; Vice President Finance, Analisa Downes Allen; Vice President Membership, Meris Haughton; Vice President Special Events, Leo McEwan; General Secretary, Gwyneth Davidson, Assistant General Secretary, Maxine Francis and trustees Dayner Azzellino and Camille Taylor. The PRSJ is the professional association that promotes the ethical practice of public relations in Jamaica.

Friday, August 23, 2013

VOLUNTEERISM …A GREAT WAY OF LIVING -with Honorary Member Kathleen Johnson

LIVING -with Honorary Member Kathleen Johnson

As a now retired Public Relations Practitioner I can hardly recall a time when I was not a volunteer.  As a child in high school I showed women of the Jamaica Federation of Women how to do embroidery, how to knit and do crochet. Simultaneously there was this helper of my acquaintance whom I assisted by taking her through the JAMAL reading process. 

I was a Girl Guide, a Cub Scout leader, Founding Secretary, long serving Treasurer (more than 20 years) of the PRSJ; a Founding Member/Life Member of WOMAN INC.; a Founding Board Member of United Way of Jamaica and the Jamaica Foundation for Children.  I also served as Chairman of the Kingston Branch of the YWCA and as President of the St Hugh’s Past Students Association.
I grew up seeing my mother making scarves for the Scouts and Cubs attached to the Lyndhurst Methodist Church and also rising early on a Sunday morning to prepare refreshments for the Officers of the Church who had to stay back after service to take care of various chores.  We were not rich but there was hardly a time when someone else’s children were not in our home while they attended regular school or extra classes in Kingston.

Happily in my experience there have not been many major changes in volunteerism through the years.  People are still willing to “give back” to the community as they have had the opportunity to grow and find success in their own lives.   I think also that mentoring and volunteerism has become more structured.

Volunteerism has played a very important and integral part in my personal career and development.   As Secretary to the Gleaner Editor Theodore Sealy I had the opportunity to learn some journalism as he had me accredited to cover the Jamaican contingent to a Caribbean Boys Scout Jamboree in Trinidad & Tobago.  Shortly after Independence Day, I gave up my vacation leave and got the opportunity to cover a tour of over 200 Jamaican teachers on a visit to the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico.  It was a wonderful and very enlightening experience which led to my recruitment into the Public Relations profession.

I would encourage anyone who has the time and the needed expertise to be a volunteer.  It can be fun, a meaningful activity which keeps you motivated and yet relaxed. I have served on the Board of the Best Care Foundation, which operates the Best Care Home for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children for over 30 years and although I do not have to work physically with the children, it has been a joy to make contacts and to use my professional expertise to help raise the cash to keep the home open and well run.  Its amazing how good it feels when a fund raising effort makes its

National Honour for Founding Member Elaine Commissiong OD

National Honour for Founding Member
Elaine Commissiong OD

The Public Relations Society of Jamaica congratulates founding member and Past President Elaine Commissiong on her induction into the Society of the Order of Distinction (Officer Class), for her distinguished contribution to the field of Public Relations.

Mrs Commissiong is a visiting Fellow at the Mona School of Business and Management. Her most recent service to the PRSJ was the modernizing of the constitution to reflect the impact of the Internet on the field of communication.

Marcus Garvey, the PR Entrepreneur —2013 trends in client billing

Garvey, the PR
Entrepreneur—2013 trends in

Quite provocatively, we are highlighting Marcus Garvey as perhaps one of the most successful public relations practitioners of all time.

Marcus Garvey started out as a disadvantaged immigrant minority to lead a major international movement. From the photos history has left us, we see that Marcus Garvey was not only
fashionably aware, he managed his personal image to best effect and was a powerful publicist and journalist for his organization's goals.

This edition of PR brief recognizes the the 126th anniversary of his birth, on
August 17, and his achievements in the fields of corporate affairs and business communication. Among Garvey’s notable communications achievements was the development of several media platforms: multilingual newspapers, and the staging of popular events.

At age 27, Marcus Garvey was acutely aware that collective entrepreneurship would be the way forward for persons like him—black and under represented in leadership positions and in the ownership of capital. Under his leadership, the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) achieved the incorporation of a shipping company with its own commercial steamship.   

Garvey understood, “ There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it”. 

The PR practitioner as entrepreneur has to continually evaluate the price point of his or her services . The PRSJ sought insights into current billing rates and asked experienced practitioners with ten to 30 years experience. We found that they preferred an arrangement where a suite of services are to be delivered for a project over a stated period of time.

This would include creating content for broadcast and digital media, placement of content across media outlets; administration of social marketing; brand marketing activities; event management and also the management of online platforms . Marcus Garvey not only delivered long letters and articles, but he has left us with many pithy quotes which would suggest that he would have been comfortable as a micro blogger.

Experienced practitioners are negotiating upwards of $250,000-$300,000 with large organisations for a 30-day campaign. For shorter projects, the hourly billing starts at $8,000-$10,000 per hour, with a 10% differential for clients who are billed in foreign currencies.

Marcus Garvey’s speeches are still quoted to this day, demonstrating how the power of his writing helped to change conversations on race and power.

Our conversations with five experienced practitioners revealed that fees for experienced writers start at $20,000-$25,000 for a five-minute speech. Speeches that need more research start at $30,00-$45,000. Ministers of government are not allowed to make speeches in Parliament, but can speak from “notes”. Negotiations to prepare these notes for a budget debate in the house start at $50,000.00.

In his pitch perfect words, we can remember Marcus Garvey saying, "I trust that you will so live today as to realize that you are masters of your own destiny, masters of your fate; if there is anything you want in this world, it is for you to strike out with confidence and faith in self and reach for it."

The PR consultant can look to this for inspiration, as these words have at their core the fiery passion of an entrepreneur. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Minutes - General Meeting, June 25 2013

General Meeting
Wednesday, June 25, 2013
Valencia D - Spanish Court Hotel

  • Christopher Benjamin, President, consultant
  • Durrant Pate, IOJ
  • Gwyneth Davidson, Cabinet Office
  • Leo McEwan, Ministry of Transport, Works, Housing
  • Maxine Francis, Assistant Gen Sec, King’s House
  • Maxine McDonnough, Touchstone Productions
  • Phillip Hamilton, IUC
  • Rohan Powell, First VP, RJR Group,
  • Karelle McCormack, 4H Clubs
  • Durrant Pate, Institute of Jamaica
  • Gwyneth Davidson, General Secretary, Cabinet Office

Apologies for absence
  • Analisa Downes Allen, SLB
  • Alison Christie Binger, Illuminarte
  • Dayner Azzellino, Trustee, Marc Astuta
  • Janneth Mornan Green, consultant
  • Kathleen Johnson, consultant
  • Meris Haughton, VP Membership
  • Clea Mayne, (UK)
  • Claudette Myers, PIOJ
  • Opal Davis, NSWMA

  • David Brown, Ministry of Transport, Works, Housing
  • Patrice Tomlinson, Citizen’s Security and Justice Programme (CSJP)
  • Leroy Porteus, CSJP
  • Peta Gay Hodges, consultant

Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 6:0PM by President Benjamin.
Prayers were said by Maxine Francis.

President Benjamin welcomed the attendees and received apologies for absence.


UWI Singers Benefit - June 9
Vice President Leo McEwan expressed disappointment on the lack of support from members and appealed for better support in the future. The reconciliation is not yet complete, and all persons with returns are asked to do so. D Pate noted that not enough time was given to sell tickets.

C Benjamin noted that the benefit was arranged so that members could socialise and that the primary goal was not to be a major fundraiser for the society.

2013 PR Conference
C Benjamin gave an update on the plans for the conference. He noted that there were attempts to have a conference over the past four years, and with the guidance of Dr Carroll Edwards of UWI, plans were now well underway.

September 19 - 20, 2013

Proposed Speakers
The overall theme is crisis communication, and local experts in the fields of social media, sports and entertainment will be invited as featured presenters.

The proposed featured speaker is leading USA crisis communicator, Judy Smith. Consultant for the political thriller ABC TV series, Scandal.

Ms Smith’s speaking fee is being negotiated down from US$12,000 to US$10,000 per engagement. The plan is that she would speak twice. The plan is that she would speak at the main conference and also at UWI to PR students invited from CARIMAC, UTech, IUC, ICC, and NCU.

Fundraising and Sponsorship
The proposal is in its final stages of preparation. Advances have already been made to the Minister of Information and national media.

The meeting suggested that the conference also facilitate booths.

The audience expressed a preference to have the conference at on the North Coast.

Registration Fee
The meeting suggested that the cost not exceed the equivalent of US$150, with a consideration for members. It was suggested that a hotel package also be pursued.

What the PRSJ can do for Me - Discussion
The gathering suggested that the PRSJ should facilitate vibrant networking so that members can collaborate profesionally; also that the society should facilitate and promote ongoing professional development. D Beckford noted that practitioners should consider membership as being essential for their career credentials. She noted that practitioners should be motivated to be part of a community and not “out there on their own”.

D Pate said that persons like himself coming in from other professions see the society as a place to grow professionally. The relevance of the newsletter was discussed, and D Beckford noted that it was useful and actually motivated her to attend the meeting.

It was suggested that the meetings could be structured so that it has a learning component so that members have an opportunity to improve skills.  M McDonnough suggested that public speaking could be one such skill, where meetings would allow coaching in this area.

K McCormack suggested that the society undertake a social cause. The gathering was reminded that the society had supported educational causes (MoE pre school book drive, Ostend special school toy drive, and Allman Town Primary labour day project).

M McDonnough noted that the society could donate PR time and expertise to assist a charity organisation that needed PR support.

L McEwan called for the creation of a register of professionals who would be expected to meet standards of skills and conduct.

It was agreed that each general meeting does not need a guest speaker, and that speakers would be reduced to once per quarter.

To improve enjoyment at meetings, the giving of small tokens as prizes for attendance, good conduct and carrying a guest will be done.

Members were reminded:
Twitter: @PRSJm
Facebook: Jamaica PRSJ and also Public Relations Society of Jamaica

Permanent Office
This matter was not advanced at the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:16PM by C Benjamin on a motion seconded by Leo McEwan.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Minutes - AGM 2012

Minutes - AGM 2012

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting
Public Relations Society of Jamaica
18 Trafalgar Road
April 4, 2012
1. Akilah Maxwell, PIOJ
2. Cheryl Smith, Min of Finance
3. Claudette Myers, PIOJ
4. Ellis James Laing, Bureau of Standards
5. First VP Christopher Benjamin
6. Gwyneth Davidson, OPM
7. Leo McEwan, Ministry of Transport, Works, Housing
8. Meris Haughton, Tax Administration Jamaica
9. Past President Alison Christie Binger, Illuminarte Communications
10. Past President Janneth Mornan Green, Media Central
11. Past President Mark Thomas, Jampro
12. President Delmares White, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
13. Trustee Camille Taylor, LIME Jamaica
  1. Past President Elaine Commissiong, CARA
  2. Past President Jean Lowrie Chin, PROComm
  3. Past President Dayner Clarke, Marc Astuta
  4. Maxine Francis, King's House
Rohan Powell, RJR, formerly of the Ministry of Justice
President Delmares White called the meeting to order and welcomed members and visitors at 6:19pm.
A prayer was said by executive member, Akilah Maxwell
Tribute to Christine Ann Bell
President White invited Past President Mark Thomas to lead a prayerful moment in memory of Treasure, the late Christine Ann Bell who died on February 24.
In his remarks, Thomas recalled that Christine Ann Bell was a member who serviced as President and who was also a regular attendee to meetings and was the serving Treasurer at the time of her passing. He recalled her vibrant personality and a formidable professional. Thomas said that he visited her in hospital moments before she passed and it was said, but the members can take heart and be happy for the great inputs she gave to the profession for which she was well recognized. He said that Bell’s reputation meant the highest levels of professionalism, use of English, and also someone who got the job done. He urged all to keep her life and memory alive by recognizing the worth of her life’s work. Several members indicated that they had attended one of the two funeral services.
President White noted that Christine Bell hosted the executive at her office. There was so much that Bell tried to pass on to the Society, White noted, and remembered her as a vibrant and helpful hostess.
President’s Report
President White expressed appreciation to the support provided by several the outgoing executive including Past President Mark Thomas, VP Akilah Maxwell and members Gwyneth Davidson, Meris Haughton, Leo McEwan and Cheryl Smith.  and  Akilah Maxwell. She said that two years ago, the Society started on a path and the executive wanted to take the work of the Society to a larger place.
She noted that there were plans to have a strategic plan with support from the rest of the group. Her recommendation for the last year and a half has been how the resources and time of younger members in universities can be utilized in the Society by giving them a direct role and responsibility.
She noted the usefulness of the monthly newsletter that was solely driven by G Davidson with contribution by other members.
In May 2010, the Society had undertaken to have a benefit performance by the University Singers, but the incursion into West Kingston affected that and the Society currently owes the Singers a balance.
The February current account bank balance is $23,995.06.
She said that the challenge of the Sociey is to find creative ways to earn income outside of subscriptions. The Society also needs to increase its membership and also frequency of meetings.
She also noted that the Society needed a working group with visibility to project the ethics of the profession.
How we can generate more membership of persons who are willing to commit to a meeting once every four months.
Members’ Tribute to President White
Vice President Christopher Benjamin, Gwyneth Davidson and Alison Christie Binger each rose and gave individual tributes to President White. It was recalled that President White stepped in to serve the Society after a period of dormancy and her work and time had resulted in new life in the Society and its work. A Christie Binger also recalled that President White had been recovering from a serious injury when she assumed the role and that did not stop her spirit or her commitment.
The Minutes, which had been posted online shortly after the 2011 AGM were confirmed by Mark Thomas and seconded by Delmares White.
Election of Officers
Trustee Camille Taylor noted that the term of the 2011 Executive was expired, and directed the election of new officers.
2012 Executive
President - Christopher Benjamin: nominated Leo McEwan seconded Gwyneth Davidson
First Vice President Akilah Maxwell: nominated by D White, seconded by C Benjamin
VP Special Events Cheryl Smith: nominated by C Benjamin, seconded by M Thomas
VP Membership Meris Haughton: nominated by C Benjamin, seconded by M Thomas
Gen Secretary Gwyneth Davidson: nominated by C Benjamin, seconded by M Thomas
VP Finance Mark Thomas: nominated by Meris Haughton, seconded by Cheryl Smith
Assistant Secretary Leo McEwan: nominated by Mark Thomas seconded by Cheryl Smith.
President’s Reply
President Benjamin noted that it had been eight years since he had been associated with PRSJ. He started attending meetings as a student at CARIMAC. He recalled the exciting discussions of the time and how he left filled and energized and that he would like this to be a feature of the PRSJ again. He said that this, and other activities, can happen when all work together.
President Benjamin said that he would sit down with the team and come up with ten workable objectives, present the points to the membership, and work towards them. He would look back at the points developed over the past two years to see the current state of the profession.
President Benjamin said that he was heartened by discussions online and that he had promised Past President Keith Brown that there would be a debate on the new definition of PR as stated by the Public Relations Society of America.

Other DiscussionsPast President, Janneth Mornan Green, said that there needs to be standards of the practice and the Society needs to present itself as being on the cutting edge of new developments in the field. She noted that social media use and application is valued by clients. She said that the Society needs to return to a place where we are educating members about what we need to be doing.
President Benjamin noted that practitioners need to embrace new media.
VP M Haughton noted that as a group we can share with each other the new methodologies that are being used so that we all develop and grow from each other’s experiences.
Past President White asked if we could arrange more meetings via the online video and audio website, Skype.
Trustee C Taylor agreed and said that we need to look at different alternatives to meeting in one physical space.
Asst Treasurer, L McEwan, suggested that there be watchdogs for the profession and activities of persons who bring the profession into disrepute.
There was a general agreement of the Society doing a media tour.
Gratitude was extended to Jampro, through Past President Mark Thomas, for facilitating the meeting. Also to Past President D White who arranged the light refreshment.
The meeting was was adjourned at 7:20 with a motion by Past President D White and seconded by President Benjamin.