I received a promotional announcement from Counselor''s Academy over the weekend urging me to participate in an upcoming teleseminar featuring Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher and others discussing ethics. The e-mail reads: 

We have a very exciting and timely teleseminar on Wednesday, June 15 that will feature Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher, Ketchum partner Barry Rafferty and Davis & Gilbert partner Joseph Lewczak. As you know, business ethics has been the number one issue confronting public relations practitioners this year. Knowing that many of you work with local government agencies, we thought Ray''s comments would be especially useful as will his thoughts on ways in which all of us should update or implement policies to safeguard our businesses. This is an opportunity to speak directly with a man who has been through the wars.   

So let me get this straight. The premier professional interest section of the Public Relations Society of America is asking members to pay $85 ($150 for PRSA members who are not part of the Counselor''s Academy) in order to hear Ketchum once again apologize to the industry for its ethical lapses in the Armstrong Williams affair. Oh, and they''ll also explain the policies that are necessary for other firms to avoid stumbling into the same mess.


Ketchum''s failure to have Williams fully disclose the financial arrangement is one of the primary reasons business ethics is the number one issue confronting public relations. To feature Ketchum''s CEO now describing to the rest of us how to keep our shops clean is like the Certified Public Accountants hosting a session with Jeff Skilling to explain how to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.

Okay, maybe it''s not exactly like that, but it''s close. We shouldn''t be paying to participate in Ketchum''s efforts to rehabilitate its reputation.

If Ketchum and Counselor''s Academy had any sense at all, Ketchum would sponsor this thing and open it up to anyone who wants to listen to their explanation. Those who agree and want to complain to Deborah Radman, APR, the Counselor''s Academy Chair, can e-mail dradman@stantoncomm.com.