PR News offends Kansas PRSA chapter two months after causing uproar

UPDATED — The Kansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America recently issued an invitation to Diane Schwartz, senior vice president and group publisher for PR News.

That’s the group that, during an e-mail appeal for more subscribers, told PR executives nationally that they can “score big” in the industry if they “Don’t be like Wichita State.” The e-mail came shortly after the ShockersNCAA tournament loss.

After much uproar in local PR circles — and with Shocker and WSU fans all over — a day later Schwartz apologized to the school.

PRSA president-elect Mary Beth Chambers says she invited Schwartz to “talk about lessons learned and best practices.”

On or about April 8, Chambers says she extended an invitation via e-mail.

“I think I gave it about a week or so before I followed up with a phone call and left a message.”

She says Schwartz didn’t return the call or e-mail.

“I said we weren’t going to tar and feather her,” Chambers says. “Maybe she didn’t believe me.”

Schwartz did return a call from The Eagle.

“Oh, I really don’t even know,” she says of the invitation. “I don’t recall (a) voice message.”

Nor does she recall an e-mail, Schwartz says.

“But I do get hundreds of e-mails a day.”

She adds, “If you’d give me the information, I’d be happy to contact PRSA.”

Schwartz says not responding to the invitations “was definitely a miss on my part.”

So would she like to come to talk to the group?

“I have no problem speaking about this, and I think we put it behind us, I would hope. That’s your call.”

She adds that she’s realizing “nobody has put it behind them” in Wichita.

“It’s not something that’s been put to rest,” Schwartz says. “I’d be happy to speak to anyone. It really depends on the time and my availability. I think there were a lot of lessons … learned on both sides.”

What were the lessons local PR executives or WSU learned?

“I’m sorry, is this an on-the-record interview?”

Schwartz says she doesn’t know what lessons anyone here may have learned.

“I actually haven’t talked to them about that.”

Schwartz says her group did learn lessons.

Kansas PRSA president Teresa Veazey thinks Schwartz may need to learn one more.

“I don’t see anything wrong with PR News politely declining our invitation,” she says.

“I think sometimes good PR starts with good manners, and to me, returning a phone call or returning an e-mail to a fellow colleague making an inquiry, to me is just good manners, and I think that’s what they should have done.”