Jack O’Dwyer To PR Firms: Pay Up Or We’ll Drop You From Our Rankings

O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News, a longstanding PR industry publication led by Jack O’Dwyer has published rankings of independent PR agencies for quite some time.

This year, the publication is asking agencies to pay to be included in the rankings, and it seems so far that agencies aren’t too pleased with the decision. Writes O’Dwyer:

Waggener Edstrom, with $119 million in revenues in 2008, 843 employees, and No. 2 on our rankings, has only one web/NL sub at $295. It refuses to pony up a nickel more. We just don’t fit into their “marketing plan,” a marketing executive told us. Several other large ranked firms have the same attitude. So we’re booting Wagged and the others off the rankings. They’re not “PR” firms.

Waggener Edstrom’s Sr. Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Communications Kent Hollenbeck responded:

While we have participated in prior years, O’Dwyer’s list has not had a measurable impact on our business efforts for some time.

We are, however, taking part in other industry rankings that do not require payment, and which have proven to deliver as good, or better, results for our business. But because of our decision, O’Dwyer has singled us out for declining to advertise.

Here is what O’Dwyer is asking for: $2,000 for agencies with $2M in fees, $3,000 for those with $5M-$10M in fees, and $5,000 for those with $10M and more.

In speaking with a number of agencies about this, none we’ve spoken to are willing to pony up the fees. O’Dwyer defends the decision in a long post on the publication’s blog, after being accused by at least one agency owner of acting “highly unethical.”

If O’Dwyer’s goal is to get more advertisers – which it seems to be – we can’t imagine this stance helps his cause.