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PRSA Houston Board Minutes From January 2004 Board Meeting

PRSA Houston Board of Directors Meeting

January 21, 2004



Terri Larson; Dan Keeney; Frank Agraz; Petri Darby; Aaron Woods; Anne Peebles; Angela Young; Holly Hutchins; Kelly Papinchak; Julie B. Fix; Lisa Martin; Julie Gorling; Ben Wheatley; Wendy Burkeen; Cindy Suggs; Jean Gonsoulin; Larry Springer; Mark Hayden; Sally Ramsay; Susan Schmaeling.


Excused Absences

Kris Taylor; Chris Bozman.


Dan opened the meeting at 10:35 a.m.  Introductions were made around the table.  A quorum was established shortly after the meeting started.


Paula Ruth, Administrator

Paula has spent the past three weeks getting up to speed on the inner workings of the chapter; learning the Web technology.  She has put together a sponsor package and has some interest from several companies.  It’s a competitive package compared with other organizations.  She is sharing the package with Terri Larson, chair of Media Day, as well as the Excalibur co-chairs.


Julie Fix asked Paula to share the package with all other members so they could share the package with potential sponsors.


Dan stated that he would ultimately like the Chapter Administrator to be meshed into chapter operations.




Approval of December minutes – Susan Schmaeling, Secretary

Dan asked if there was any discussion of the December 2003 minutes.  There was not so Dan called for a motion to approve the minutes.  Julie Fix moved to approve the minutes, Petri Darby seconded; and all stated “aye.”  The minutes were approved.


Approval of Treasurer’s Report – Holly Hutchins, Treasurer

Holly had three documents for the chapter to review.  The first was the 2003 Actual Budget detailing the monies spent in 2003.  The chapter experienced a shortfall since Excalibur and Media Day did not generate the expected revenues.  The chapter drew on the PRSA checking account to cover expenses.  The Chapter is currently $8,830.55 over budget at the end of 2003.


In reserve the chapter has:

            Money Market $29,500.00

            Checking         $ 5,198.00

2003 was a bit of a struggle.


Julie Fix made a motion to pass the December 2003 Treasurer’s report, and Cindy Suggs seconded the motion; all stated “aye.”


Approval of 2004 Budget – Holly Hutchins, Treasurer

The second item under consideration was the 2004 budget.  In 2004 the chapter has proposed to raise $96,730 versus the $104,900 in revenue proposed in 2003. 


Kelly wanted to know if the $1,500 designated for PRSSA was to be equally split between Sam Houston State and the University of Houston.  Larry confirmed that it was and that the Chapter encourages each student chapter to raise its own funds to assist in sending students to National.  He also added that the A&M PRSSA chapter was “hanging on by its fingernails” and we should support them in any manner that we could manage.


Dan said that the 2003 budget had been reduced from the overall budget in 2002.  This year chapter funds would be 8 to 10% less than last year.


Aaron wanted to know if any specific category took a significant hit.  Holly stated that that wasn’t the case that the reductions were across the board.


Julie Gorling wanted to know if any effort would be made to put the borrowed money back into the Money Market.  Holly has suggested that the monies be repaid immediately since the chapter received $2,900 in income from national dues so the $2,500 will be put back into the Money Market Fund.


Dan added that National suggests that the chapter keep its reserves at 40%.  The chapter budget typically gets spent during the second half of the year when Excalibur and Media Day expenses hit the books. 


Petri made a motion to approve the 2004 budget, Cindy seconded the motion and all stated “aye.”


Dan added that the by-laws give the chapter the opportunity to change the budget twice over the course of the year.


Holly distributed the January 2004 budget which would give chapter members a “snapshot of the chapter’s current financial situation.” 


Julie Fix found a $100 error under Expenses in Leadership Support in the PRSA 2004 Budget.  Holly had inadvertently added the $100 to the President’s budget in the January report reflecting a total of $457.76.  There is no actual discrepancy – just money placed in different columns.  


The final item that Holly had for discussion was the Web site sales tax. 

Holly detailed the issue for the chapter.  Schipul our web site vendor has the responsibility to charge the chapter sales tax for services rendered.  The chapter is a 501 (c) 6 and therefore must pay sales tax.  Ed did not charge the chapter sales tax in 2003.  A recent audit revealed this error, and that PRSA owed Schipul $1,007.44.  Is the chapter liable?  Advice from one CPA suggests that it is Ed’s responsibility; however the ethical responsibility rests on the chapter. 


Dan presented these options to the Board

1)     Ed is responsible; the chapter pays nothing.

2)     The bill is split 50 – 50.

3)     PRSA is accountable – the taxes are paid in full.


Cindy talked about considering splitting the bill with Schipul since this is non-budgeted funds.  Present the case of a 50 – 50 split with Ed.


Petri suggested offering Ed a sponsorship in lieu of paying the back taxes.


Paula mentioned that Ed has given her hours worth of training at a greatly reduced price.  Lisa concurred that Ed developed our Web site, which we all agree is fantastic, at a greatly reduced rate.


Larry stated that if we paid the bill in full could it possibly be pro-rated?  And paid in installments? It would help if the chapter did not have to come up with the whole chunk at once.



Aaron doesn’t agree with offering any 50 – 50 option to Ed.  And also a sponsorship should be offered separately.  The chapter should just pay the bill.


Jean added that Schipul has done considerably work for the chapter for free.


Petri made a motion that the Treasurer and President would work with Ed Schipul on a mutually agreeable payment plan through which the Chapter would pay Schipul in full for sales taxes related to services in 2003.


All voted Aye.


Presentations by Committee Chairs

Anne Peebles, APR – Excalibur Committee

Anne passed out an Overview for chapter members detailing a variety of issues related to the Excalibur awards.  At this stage the committee is organizing and planning for the ceremony and developing a timeline.  Income goals for the event have not yet been established.  The committee plans to increase fees which will be in line with goals.  A graphic designed will donate their services to create event material.  They are seeking sponsors for the event.  February 28 is the call for entries; and e-mail will be sent as a follow-up.  The event will be posted on the Web site as well.


For the Award categories Anne distributed two hand-outs.  The first hand-out compared PRSA Excalibur Awards with other associations in several categories; and then a hand-out comparing PRSA entry categories with other organizations.  Anne wanted the chapter to review these categories and see what should be added and what could be eliminated. 


Dan asked if there was a record of categories that don’t generate entries.


Anne replied that the Excalibur committee would review.  Julie Fix added that the TPRA deadline was this weekend.


Jean was surprised that there was no Media Relations or News Release category?  Anne added that the categories are broken out more by industry.  Angela felt a category for electronic newsletter should be added. Jean added that Op’Ed’s needed to be added as well.  Brand and Reputation management should be covered by PRSA also.

Wendy added that additional revenue could be generated by adding these categories.


Anne can be reached at


Cindy wanted to know if Student award categories could be added for a reduced fee.

Julie F. and Kelly will give Anne feedback for best category selection.   At TPRA there were four entries in the student category this year. 


Anne stated that overall the entry fees for Excalibur were raised in 2003.  A separate fee for additional entries could be added – AMA doesn’t give entrants a break; and PRSA could raise the fee to $40.  There is also potential for extending the late period – the time is built in and therefore the chapter can charge a $25 late fee for all tardy entries.


Julie Fix asked if the chapter was extending the member rate to TPRA.  Anne wasn’t sure and will clarify that with Sally. 


Members wanted to know if there were a lot of non-members who entered Excalibur.  Anne didn’t have that information in front of her but will get back to the committee with that break-out. 


There was feedback on the physical qualities (or lack thereof) of the Excalibur award.  There were numerous complaints that the frame came apart and the award itself didn’t look very impressive.  IABC does a certificate; TPRA a plaque and AMA a marble piece.  All agreed that we need a handsome affordable product to represent the chapter. 


Larry suggested approaching specialty marketers with a sponsorship or co-sponsor package to give the chapter a great deal on these items. 


Judging Criteria – will be at the beginning of February with the Knoxville, TN chapter.  Anne will set-up the Houston judging for Saturday or ask pr agencies to do certain categories. 


Larry wanted to know the entry comparison between Houston and Knoxville.  Anne said the chapter sizes were comparable.  Houston had 110 entries in 2003; a third fewer than in 2002.  Knoxville roughly has between 150-180 entries.


Julie G. stated that 110 was low for our chapter.  Dan stated that any other questions for Anne need to be addressed to her in an e-mail so we could stick to the agenda timeline.


Cindy Suggs & Mark Hayden – Luncheon Report

Cindy and her committee have been charged to take a look at strengthen the attendance at the chapter monthly gatherings.  The committee has reviewed luncheon statistics for the past several years looking at the data month by month and by venue to see what makes a difference to guests.  A high-caliber speaker drives attendance.  The committee notes that communication methods have changed and the contact list is clean due to Paula’s efforts.  This month there are (60) reservations; and the info about the speaker was sent three weeks in advance; then two; then one.  A longer message was sent about the speaker and there appears to be an increase in attendance. 


The committee is exploring the possibly of moving the meetings to different locations and assisting Mark with speaker identification and engagement.  A brief survey will be distributed at the luncheon today with six questions. 


Angela and Cindy will do a telephone survey of past luncheon attendees who have not been attending of late.  Cindy noted the sour economy has had a major impact on attendance.  However we need to reach out to an audience that is not engaged in the organization.


Cindy and committee will distribute a plan for 2004 in February.


Julie G. suggested that the survey sit out at the registration table in February as well.


The PRSA Houston chapter Web site could include directions for the Houston City Club regarding parking, etc.


Frank added that the people may be confused between the Houston Club downtown versus the Houston City Club.  Wendy added that at 11:30 a.m. there’s not a whole lot of parking slots available in the deck. 


Julie F. added that Greenway Plaza can be a confusing destination.


Ben stated that IABC was holding their meetings at Brennan’s and charging members $30.  Attendance is up at their meetings.  The luncheon includes valet parking.


Dan – this issue will be examined in February.  He added that we are not beholden to the City Club – the chapter is currently month to month.


Dan called for a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:30 a.m. Unanimous ayes.


Submitted by Susan Schmaeling, APR

Secretary, Houston chapter 2004

Daniel Keeney
(832) 467-2904
(832) 467-2909
Author: Daniel Keeney
Phone: (832) 467-2904
Fax: (832) 467-2909