What to Get for the Public Relations Professional This Holiday Season

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

These days, there’s many options to find that perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

No doubt that some PR professionals have mustaches and imbibe in spirits. But the Whisker Dam may not be the right gift this holiday season.

No doubt that some PR professionals have mustaches and imbibe in spirits. But the Whisker Dam may not be the right gift this holiday season.

For example, the Redeye tabloid published here in Chicago recently featured a Holiday Gift Guide that included:

  • Handmade copper mustache guard: As described, this so-called Whisker Dam “fits over a pint glass, highball or mug to keep facial hair dry.” Since I no longer have a mustache, it’s not an item I expect to find under the Christmas tree this year.
  • LuMee case: A lighting device for your cell phone to “help your selfie-loving friend make like a Kardashian.” Well, my utilitarian Samsung Avant works just fine as is and I don’t know what it means to “make like a Kardashian,” nor do I care to learn.
  • Mobil Foodie Survival Kit: What gourmand wouldn’t love “this stack of 13 portable spices including sea salt, cayenne, curry and dill.” Personally, I prefer to have the chef season my meal when dining out.

But this blog is about public relations (well, most of the time) and I maintain that public relations professionals are perhaps better suited to more practical stuff, especially in these times of “false news” reports that lead to bad stuff happening to innocent people.

So in the spirit of giving, the PRDude offers these directives to fellow communicators. Think of the following as “holiday gifts” of sort.

Commitment. Stay committed to the public relations profession and make that known to the world. Proactively share accomplishments to demonstrate the value public relations has in today’s increasingly complex world.

Inspire. Help nurture the next generation of communicators by adhering to the highest standards of professionalism and conduct, like those noted in the PRSA Code of Ethics. Volunteer to serve on a PRSA or other industry organization.

Contest. Challenge and call out instances where the profession is bashed, demeaned unnecessarily or misinterpreted. Need an example? Here’s one: Make it clear that terrorist organizations practice propaganda, not public relations, in their communications.

Believe. Well, in Santa Claus, of course. But believe in the power of public relations to help contribute to the national dialogue, build relationships and improve society through honest, effective communications.

Hope these prove valuable “holiday gifts.”

If not, perhaps that Whisker Dam ain’t such a bad gift after all.

 

 

 

Fellow Americans: Join the Bunga Bunga Party*

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Let’s face it: The political system here in the United States of America is at a crossroads, and it’s one perhaps not many of us know in which direction to cross.

silvio-berlusconi

Here’s an image of Mr. Berlusconi courtesy of Reuters. Felt it not appropriate to post any images of Bunga Bunga Party activities in this blog.

Yes, the Republican Party captured the White House, can boast the majority in both houses of Congress and maintain the edge in the number of U.S. governors; but the party certainly is fragmented by splinter groups like the so-called Alt-right. As for the Democrats, their leaders must be feeling the ultimate hangover by winning the popular vote in the presidential race but coming up short where it counts — in the Electoral College.

It’s probably safe to contend that there’s a vast number of Americans who don’t clearly support either party in these days following the November 8 election. Some Americans may even consider joining a new political party. That’s why The PRDude is offering this suggestion: Let’s start a new party and name it the Bunga Bunga Party*.

First, a point of clarification. The name is “borrowed” from the reportedly, how do I state this carefully, “spirited” gatherings hosted by former and once convicted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. This Wikipedia page offers more insight on the origin and further insight into the aforementioned gatherings.

So, you’re probably wondering: Why name the party after a reportedly tawdry series of events that took place years ago in Italy?

Here are some solid reasons:

  • It’s memorable, has name recognition and there’s a nice ring to “Bunga Bunga.”
  • To my knowledge, no one else has claimed this name for a political party — here or elsewhere.
  • It’s provocative and certainly will stand apart from staid names like “Democratic” and “Republican.”
  • The Green Party name already has been taken, and the Independent Party is boring and non-specific. (“Independent” of what?)
  • Perhaps Mr. Berlusconi will serve as an honorary chairman, which he can do since he won’t have to spend time in jail.

While I have no intention of running as a candidate should the Bunga Bunga Party take shape, I would offer public relations counsel to party leadership. At an hourly rate in line with what communicators working within the Beltline earn, of course.

So fellow Americans, as we prepare tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays, please make time during your meal with family and friends to consider the Bunga Bunga Party. It might be a welcomed break from quarreling over the real state of politics in the U.S. today.

* * *

*If you’ve read this far, I hope you realize this post is an attempt — hopefully successfully — at satire and humor. If not, can you say “Bunga Bunga?”

 

 

Donald Trump and Public Relations

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Now that many people in this great nation have collectively has taken a deep breath, we can collectively accept the fact that Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States on November 8, 2016, in what will be remembered as one of the truly astonishing election upsets in the nation’s history.

trump-website-image

Credit: Photo was borrowed from the official website for the Trump campaign. This blog sincerely appreciates the opportunity to include this graphic in today’s post.

Still, many of us will find it hard — perhaps excruciatingly hard — to come to the realization of a Trump administration. But, the democratic process was followed, and Mr. Trump will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017.

Another thing is certain: Prognosticators, pundits and pollsters will grapple for the unforeseeable future about how candidate Trump, a political neophyte and billionaire businessman catapulted to stardom via reality television, beat an opponent with some 40 years of political savvy, including terms as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.

(Okay, we will not address the misgivings and faults regarding Hillary Clinton, perceived or substantiated, in this post as that subject is not germane to subject at hand.)

But here’s one theory I would like to quash and address right now: Mr. Trump did not win the presidency due to a masterful “public relations strategy,” as some in the media have asserted.

As stated in this September 2015 article published by Forbes, the author proclaims Mr. Trump’s campaign at the time had delivered “the proper public relations note” to reach its core audience. (For the record, I have no idea what defines a “public relations note.”)  And, others in public relations have contributed to the discussion by offering examples of the value behind some of Mr. Trump’s public relations tactics.

Hogwash, if you ask me. And, if I wanted to get into the gutter like so many these days, I would offer another descriptive term, one that rhymes with “dimwit.”

No, Mr. Trump and those within his campaign did not propagate sound, ethical public relations strategies or offer many — if any — viable tactics for those of us in the profession to absorb and use. The key reasons why:

  1. At times during the campaign and primary race, his rhetoric was based on fabricated facts.
  2. There was little to no effort to disclose where some of the information disseminated came from.

Want an example? Read this Chicago Tribune story from August of 2016 regarding a reported meeting by Mr. Trump with a “high ranking” Chicago police official. The topic was how the city can curtail violent crime in one week through tougher policing.

I do agree that Mr. Trump and his team did employ marketing strategies and tactics to leverage the brand he built through his real estate endeavors, television show and other business interests.  Well, perhaps Trump University should be kept off the list for now.

So how did Mr. Trump win?

That question will be debated for a long time, probably until the next presidential election; but Tuesday’s victory was not driven by public relations, at least not the public relations I practice.

Woke Up and It Was Not a Dream: Chicago Cubs are 2016 World Series Champions

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Shortly after dawn this mild-for-early-November morning, I woke up and wondered: Was it all just a dream?

Some fictional occurrence? A tale built upon hope, anxiety and perhaps one too many beers?

What road will the 2017 Chicago Cubs follow? The PRDude thinks it will be a road that leads to more World Series victories.

What road will the 2017 Chicago Cubs follow? The PRDude thinks it will be a road that leads to more World Series championships.

But no, it actually happened. It dominated local and national news and social media channels.  And, it will for a long time after the days of November get shorter and colder.

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 8 to 7 in the seventh game of the 2016 World Series, ending a 108-year drought and — hopefully — ending forever tales of ineptitude and losing involving goats, jinxes, hexes and even a hapless fan reaching for a foul ball. It was a game made all the more surreal and dramatic through long balls and timely singles, great pitching and wild pitches, errors and fielding gems.

There were heroes and goats, some questionable ball and strike calls, and, for good measure, even a rain delay.

So the big question: Are the 2016 Chicago Cubs one-hit (pun intended) wonders in spikes? Given the current on-field talent, management, ownership, fan base (and, hey let’s be real here — baseball is a business) and corporate support, the Chicago Cubs will be contenders to hoist the World Series trophy for a few years to come.

The mantra, “We can’t wait until next year,” will now replace “Wait until next year.”

*  *  *

But wait! There’s more recent Chicago Cubs-related thoughts from the PRDude:

  • In this September 18 post, I share thoughts and observations in the waning moments of the regular season.
  • On October 19, the focus centered on how “hatred” of the Cubs, as exemplified by a basketball player named Frank Kaminsky, was emblematic of some things very wrong with society today.
  • And, who could forget my October 31/Halloween day commentary that somehow melded my still alive tomato plants with the Cubs’ hopes to win two in Cleveland.

Like My Tomato Plants, The Chicago Cubs Are Still Alive

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

tomatoes

Look close. There are some tomatoes still growing in my backyard this last day of October. For some inexplicable reason, I’m equating late season tomatoes to the Cubs’ hopes of winning the next two games in Cleveland.

Like the four tomato plants still yielding fruit on this last day of October 2016, my beloved Chicago Cubs are still in the chase to win the World Series of baseball.

Okay, I admit that’s a goofy, wacky, somewhat nonsensical mixed metaphor.  But it’s the best I can do after a wild, emotionally-charged weekend following the Cubs versus Indians via television, radio and handheld device.

Yes, the Cubs played their last home games of 2016 and head east and — hopefully — will return as World Series champions.

While I didn’t get to attend a playoff game at Wrigley Field, I of course watched, listened and read all things Cubs.

However, now that the action has shifted to Progressive Field in Cleveland, there are a few things about following the Cubs World Series quest I will not miss:

  1. Flashes of John Cusack, Eddie Vedder, Bill Murray and other celebrity Cub fans on the TV screen during games. Heck, I just read that Lady Gaga was at the game last night! Who cares? Not me.
  2. Seeing images of that frumpy — unquestionably rich — guy in the pink cap and green shirt with the awesome first row seats right behind home plate. Who is this guy and why doesn’t he stand up and root for the Cubs once in a while?
  3. Reading reports about bars in “Wrigleyville” (silly name, if you ask me) charging $250 or so to watch a game. Oh yes, you get beer and hot dogs. Can you say, “take advantage of the situation.”

So, why draft this post?  Well, we’ve failed to attract any more trick or treaters this Halloween night, and I need something Cubs related to do.

But on second thought, my analogy between tomatoes in November and the Cubs in the World Series does have merit. I don’t recall ever having a tomato yield in the 11th month of the year. And, to my knowledge, the Cubs have never won a game in November.

So there: As long as there are tomatoes still struggling to grow and ripen, the Cubs have a chance to win two more games in 2016.

The Chicago Cubs and a Reflection on the World and Society Today

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Let’s leave the current on-field performance of the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 National League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers to those communicators who get paid — and know a lot more than I do about sports — to offer commentary.

Rest assured Mr. Kaminsky, your childish actions may come back to haunt you.

Rest assured Mr. Kaminsky, your childish actions may come back to haunt you.

As of this writing, the Cubs are down two games to one, have been shut out the past two games and appear to have lost heart and how to win. But there’s a game tonight!

Anyway, this post will focus more on the state of our world and society today, rather than Chicago’s National League baseball franchise.  What prompted this post is an article from the Redeye, a free tabloid published by the Chicago Tribune Media Group and geared to the Millennial demographic.

The article centers on a “fan” of the Chicago White Sox, a Chicago area native named Frank Kaminsky, who is taking his self-professed hatred of the Cubs to an extreme, childish level. As noted in this Redeye piece published today, Mr. Kaminsky — a professional basketball player with the Charlotte Hornets — promises to wear a custom-made Cubs jersey bearing the name of a man who was never a Cubs player until the team is eliminated from the playoffs.

Providing of course, that happens.

As noted in the Redeye piece: “It’s my stance, how I feel about the Cubs this year. I don’t want them to win.” He also has launched an “attack” of sorts in the Twittersphere.

So what do Mr. Kaminsky’s actions have to do with the much larger perspective?

It’s a demonstration of a lot of things that are wrong with the world today.  Here are a few:

  • It’s Okay, No Cool, to Hate. Rarely a day goes by when we don’t hear of an atrocity in war-torn places overseas and in my home city of Chicago. To me, it’s hate that drives people to kill and hurt others. Why should hate be part of sports? Because, apparently to some, it’s appropriate and it’s become part of “cheering on” your team.
  • The “Power” of the Digital Arena. This blog, is, of course, part of modern online communications. I’ve published what I believe are informative, fair and ethical posts.  Others use the digital arena to spread lies and inflame hatred.
  • The Ability to Change the Conversation.  What’s happening in baseball today? The NLCS and the ALCS. With garbage news like Mr. Kaminsky’s rants, part of the focus of real sports news gets mixed up with nonsense that’s taking place off the field of play.
  • Continue to Bash Bartman. I can’t believe that anyone with any sense of scruples would continue to slander Steve Bartman, a fan who tried to catch a foul ball in a game 13 years ago. He did nothing wrong, but weak, petty cowards still hold him responsible for a Cubs collapse.

Cub fans and many in Chicago fly the “W” flag to promote and support the team.  So, fly the “L” flag Mr. Kaminsky, if you want.

But in my mind you’re the loser.

 

Hey Hagar the Horrible: You Got Public Relations Right the First Time

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Okay. What’s “wrong” with the two cartoons that accompany this post?

hagar

Note to comic artist Chris Browne: I really am a fan of the “Hagar” strip. Source: Hagar the Horrible.

Need more clarification? What needs to be addressed and challenged from a public relations perspective?

First, some background on these “Hagar the Horrible“commentaries should will help.

The top strip was published six years ago.  In fact I wrote about it in this post from January of 2010, where I somehow merged an idea of how an example used in the upcoming State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama and the comic message from artist Chris Browne supported public relations.

(Yes, I’ve been known to steer the discussion of public relations down some truly divergent paths on occasion. But hey, it’s my blog.)

Back to the image.  The story in the top strip depicts a public relations consultant questioning a nobleman on the performance of Hagar and his viking raiding party following a pillage. This is good, because as we know, effective, strategic public relations is driven by research.

Now to the bottom strip, which appeared in the October 7 issue of the print version of the Chicago Tribune that’s delivered to our home each day.  Here, a disillusioned Hagar, hunched over a bar nursing a cocktail, seeks advice from friend Lucky Eddie on a source to “cook up a story” to mitigate past misgivings.

Well, Lucky Eddie says, the right person is at arm’s length away: The King’s Public Relations Director!

This is bad, because it infers — at least to me — that public relations tactics can mask unethical or perhaps even criminal actions through successful media relations. To many, Hagar is just trying to get some “good public relations” to solve his image problem.

Ah, Hagar, if it was only that easy.