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Public Relations Society Gets Bad PR

September 26, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ The public relations business seems to be having trouble relating to the public.

Late last month, the president of the 13,000-member Public Relations Society of America resigned.

Letters sent out to inform members of the Aug. 29 resignation of Anthony M. Franco failed to mention that he had been charged last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading in a client’s stock.

Franco, who runs Michigan’s largest PR firm, settled the civil complaint by promising the SEC he would not engage in the alleged actions again. He neither admitted nor denied the charges.

The Wall Street Journal said in a story published Friday that Franco did not tell most of the PRSA’s leadership about the SEC investigation. They found out about it by reading the newspapers, the Journal said.

Franco said he had not discussed the case on the recommendation of his lawyer.

Even after the investigation came to light, the PRSA, looked to as the nation’s premier organization of communicators, didn’t distribute a press release announcing the charges against Franco or his resignation.

Calls to the PRSA by The Associated Press seeking comment on the Journal article were not returned Friday.

The society’s directors are studying how to deal with the matter, the Journal said. They weren’t expected to meet together until Oct. 4 due to busy schedules.

In a statement read by his secretary, Franco disputed unspecified portions of the Journal article, but said he saw no reason to make substantive comments on it. Gloria Markowicz said Franco could not be reached directly because he was en route to Cincinnati.

″I don’t agree with a lot of the quotes that were in the story,″ Franco said in the statement read from the Detroit headquarters of Anthony M. Franco Inc.

″However, I see no merit in commenting further on the matter because it is presently under review by the PRSA board. Like everyone in PRSA I am hoping for a speedy resolution of this matter,″ Franco said.

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