I've been one of the champions of Jack O'Dwyer over the years. I like a muckraker more than the next guy and I like a character above almost all else, and Jack is no doubt both of those, in addition to being a convincing curmudgeon and an afflictor of the comfortable and of everyone else who pisses him off.
So it was with fondness about a decade ago, when word came that Jack was retiring, and I wrote a tribute in The Ragan Report titled, "Jack O'Dwyer is retiring, and everyone is relieved."
Alas, Jack's retirement, and everyone's relief, was short-lived. Good! The PR industry needs a nag, and it needs a sense of humor. Jack helped it with both.
But this latest thing he's pulling is indefensible. I'm sure he'll clear it up if I've oversimplified it, but as I read it on his blog, it's just this simple:
Jack publishes a directory of PR firms that potential clients presumably use to figure out what firms they want to hire. Jack is telling firms that he knows have deep pockets that they have to pay him a certain amount of money, or they won't be included in the ranking.
Now, Jack: I'm editor of Vital Speeches of the Day (just like you're publisher of O'Dwyer's Newsletter). Say I decided to start a Vital Speeches Directory of Freelance Speechwriters, so that companies looking to hire freelancers could thumb through and see who the busiest, most experienced scribes are, industry by industry.
And then, after publishing that directory for several years and making an institution of it, what if I told the most successful freelancers that they have to subscribe to Vital Speeches and sign up for an audio conference, or they would be eliminated from the list.
Jack, please explain to me how this would be ethically justifiable on my part. Tell me how I could not expect the executive communication community to tag me as just exactly the kind of Sheister Shit-Heel that you've been accusing so many other publishers and association execs of being all these years.
Say it ain't so, Jack O.