Public Relations Society of America National Chair/CEO Available for Comment on Imus...

Public Relations Society of America National Chair/CEO Available for Comment on Imus / Rutgers Situation



ADVISORY for Tuesday, April 10


PRSA Response to Recent Comments by Don Imus / Perspectives on Effective Apologies Required in Crisis Situations


Rhoda Weiss, APR, Fellow PRSA – the National Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals – is available for comment on best practices for organizational apologies when clear operational missteps or errors in judgment have been made.

Rhoda Weiss’s comments relative to the Imus situation include:

— “Any time a company faces a crisis resulting in an intense level of public backlash as well as national media scrutiny, the appropriate crisis response includes: 1) quickly addressing the problem at hand to correct what’s wrong and to ensure prevention of future problems, 2) determining how to repair damaged relationships with individuals who were directly impacted, and 3) communicating honestly and accurately through the media to address stakeholder issues and concerns.”

— “Apologies can be the most effective means to repair damaged relationships resulting from obvious errors in human judgment. However, an apology issued with even a hint of insincerity, lacking in acceptance of responsibility and – worst of all – casting blame on other parties for the offending action can do more harm than good. Elements of effective apologies include:

— Quick response, not waiting until media/public pressure builds to the point of “forcing” an apology (to be effective, an apology must be viewed as a voluntary act – not one that was a required hurdle in order for the individual / organization to survive)

— Provision of an apology statement in a public forum

— Precise acknowledgement of the offending action

— Precise acknowledgement of individuals (by personal name, if feasible) and/or specific groups of individuals who were impacted in a negative / hurtful way

— Precise acknowledgement of how the offending action created a negative / hurtful situation and why it was wrong / offensive

— Disclosure of measures to be taken by the organization or individual to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future

— Formal request for forgiveness from those individuals who were impacted, with acknowledgement that forgiveness may not be granted”

— “PRSA advises all organizations to involve public relations professionals at the senior management level in crisis communications preparedness and crisis response.”

— Weiss is based in Los Angeles and is available for live or taped appearances via network affiliate studios in the L.A. market, as well as telephone interviews or comment via e-mail as a source for print coverage.

To arrange interviews contact:

— Janet Troy, 212-460-1452 or, VP, Public Relations / PRSA

— Mary Beth West, APR, 865-982-6626 or, Chair, PRSA Advocacy Advisory Board


The Public Relations Society of America, based in New York City, is the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals. The Society has more than 31,000 professional and student members.


Rhoda Weiss, Chair & Chief Executive Officer Public Relations Society of America

Rhoda Weiss is Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). With 31,000 members, PRSA is the world’s largest organization of public relations professionals representing business, education, government, the military, associations, non-profits, agencies, consulting firms and all other economic and industry sectors. For more than 30 years, she has been a nationally recognized health care executive and multiple-award winning public relations and marketing leader. A prolific speaker and author, she has traveled more than 6 million miles speaking and consulting to 700 organizations in 49 states and abroad. Author of more than 300 journal articles and a book, Managing Health Care Reform: Ideas for Leaders, Ms. Weiss is a former Kellogg Foundation Fellow and has taught public relations, marketing and fund raising at UCLA Extension for 23 years.

She was awarded National Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to the fields of public relations, marketing, strategy, health care and leadership from the American Hospital Association Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development and PRSA Health Academy, was named Woman of the Year by Women in Health Administration and received the U.S. Public Health Lecturer Award for “open, honest communications about issues affecting the health of the U.S. and abroad.” Ms. Weiss has been a columnist for Health Progress Magazine, Strategic Health Care Marketing and Health Services Marketing and is quoted widely in national publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and other media.

In addition to her leadership at PRSA, Ms. Weiss is founding president of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development and past president of Women in Health Administration and Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations Association. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University, where she presented the class valedictory address; a master’s degree in psychology from Antioch University and completed studies in the Western Network for Health Care Executives at University of California, Berkeley, and also at University of Michigan, where she co-chaired the Executive Leadership Institute. She is a doctoral student in the Antioch University Ph.D. Program in Leadership and Change. She judged the Marriott Service Excellence Awards and earned more than 300 communications honors. She holds fellowship status in the American Hospital Association Society, American College of Healthcare Marketing and PRSA and has served on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals, National Board of the Coalition on Donations (organ and tissue donations) and the United States Air Force Entertainment Advisory Board, among many others. In January 2007, she participated in the U.S. State Department’s Private Sector Summit on Public Diplomacy and was a delegate to the National Security Forum.

Her client list is a “who’s who” of U.S. health systems and hospitals, including national and regional systems; academic, community and teaching hospitals; aging programs; military and veteran’s health; home care, hospice, and ambulatory settings; physician organizations; health plans; behavioral health, specific-disease organizations, and much more. She has facilitated and keynoted numerous boards of directors and management retreats for organizations across the country; acted as a chief executive to partnerships, and is a national expert in organizational positioning. She has also consulted in other fields outside of health care.

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Public Relations Society of America National Chair/CEO Available for Comment on Imus / Rutgers Situation