Here’s Who’s Winning Following Charlottesville

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

Developments from the horrific events that took place last week in what reportedly was a quiet, historic college town continue to unfold at a dizzying pace.

Image courtesy of the Washington Post.

So, I won’t go into any details or analysis, because the information monster created by digital technology assuredly will mean occurrences — whether reported by a traditional news source, and alternative news source or through a social media platform — will have changed by the time I finish this post.

But if you’re unfamiliar with what took place — the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia August 11 during a clash between two diametrically opposed forces — please visit this page to get up to date.  The source is the New York Times, a media source I wholeheartedly trust, and am not ashamed or reluctant to believe in.

Everyone in America is losing while we continue this highly toxic way of using our Constitutional right to assemble peacefully.

However, there are “winners” of sorts.

Superficially, the sign printers, the torch manufacturers and the florists will continue to gain business if those on the far right and those on the far left clash and leave bodies in their wake. There will always be a need for props, and there always will be memorials if someone is killed.

But realistically, the real winners are the sick individuals with myopic perspectives on what is “right” and what is “wrong,” those cowards who will never waver or even try to understand another perspective.

They will win as long as the rest of us allow them to.

 

 

With September on the Horizon, A Time to Savor What’s Left of Summer

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

It’s true.

The three months of summer — purported to be a reflective time to relax, regroup and recharge — does go by fast.

As of this writing, September is three weeks away, prompting the question: Did you get the most out of the summer of 2017?

After all, the fall back-to-school messages will soon become as prominent and prevalent as those get-out-and-enjoy summer messages communicated in May.

Yes, that’s me, second from left, during the PRSA Chicago YPN panel discussion on continuing education.

Now that the topic of schooling is on the table, let me share a recent event on the subject. Earlier this week, I had the honor of participating as a panelist during a PRSA Chicago Young Professionals Network after-work gathering on “Exploring Continuing Education in PR.”

My fellow panelists addressed the challenges faced by working professionals who make the decision to pursue master’s degrees in business administration and communications, along with the long-term professional career benefits of an advanced degree.

As you would expect from the PRDude,  I promoted the value behind earning the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential and how it made a measurable impact by elevating me to a strategist.

And, I subtly noted that I also was in pursuit of my master’s degree in English, although reaching that goal is a good three years away.

What ensued was an often lively and informative exchange between the panelists and the YPN members in attendance. I learned how my fellow panelists balanced work, school, play and other aspects of life in their quest for a master’s degree, and realized:

  • I’m on my 13th year as an Accredited professional; regardless, the continued evolution of public relations will require that I continue to evolve, too. That means continuing to learn.
  • Earning an advanced degree means more these days than in generations past. The era of the publicist driven by placements has been eclipsed by a professional who can comprehend and strategically employ the PESO model.
  • And, yikes! Summer was waning and I would have to start school again soon. Actually, my next class — “Non-Fiction Writing Workshop” — starts August 28.

With that note, I’ll conclude this post and step outside with a glass of wine to enjoy the balance of this early August evening.

After all, the two ladies on the panel with me both stressed that it’s imperative to maximize time spent outside the classroom and away from the books.

I wholeheartedly concur.

 

 

 

Communications Advice For Anthony Scaramucci

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

By the time Publish button is pushed to share these thoughts with the world, who knows what new development will have taken place within the Trump Administration.

New (but for how long?) White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

So, I’ll be brief and get tot he focal point of this post: Communications advice for recently named White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Last week, Mr. Scaramucci burst on the national scene in what then was the latest shake up within the current executive branch.

A Wall Street guy, Mr. Scaramucci (to my understanding) does not have any formal communications experience.

So in an effort to usher in a less caustic national conversation, here’s some advice and best practices for Mr. Scaramucci to consider:

  1. Learn to mitigate threats. In essence, public relations initiatives take advantage of opportunities and mitigate threats.  It’s highly advisable that Mr. Scaramucci take the latter very seriously while doing his utmost to advance the former.
  2. Watch the language. Perhaps you’ve read about Mr. Scaramucci’s expletive-filled rank to a reporter last week.  In a tweet, he deemed the frequent f-bombs as being “colorful language.” From my experience, straightforward, “black and white” communications are much more effective because the crux of the message stays front and center.
  3. The media is not an enemy. As clearly stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the media has a right to exist. Men and women who cover the news aren’t going away. Being combative will only lead to more intensive scrutiny.

Mr. Scaramucci, should you read this and want to discuss further, please reach out; I promise to respond promptly.

And, I ask nothing in return, except that you perform your duties effectively and honestly.

I trust the American people would ask the same.

In This Era of Fake News, Let’s Remember the Impact of Fake PR

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

Long before the idea of “fake news” — otherwise known as “lies,” “falsehoods,” “misinformation” or “conjecture” — became part of the national lexicon, there was a mistrust by some regarding information disseminated by traditional print and broadcast media sources.

Lots of things, including public relations practices, are “fake” these days. Image courtesy of Slate.

Now, of course, with digital communications fully ensconced in modern society and the national conversion embroiled in mistrust of who’s ever on the other side, “fake news” is part of the new normal and more than likely will be forever.

This prompted me to ponder communications from another perspective, that being, communications originating from public relations professionals. And, in this case, I employ the “professionals” qualifier with trepidation related to some.

Perhaps it’s time to address the “fake” premise in another way — that being “fake PR.”

Actually, there’s a communications company based in Berlin, Germany named Fake PR.  Not sure why this name was selected, but according to the company’s website, it maintains an impressive client base and lists 14 services under the public relations category.

And, in researching this post, I found a few articles on the subject, including this well-crafted piece published earlier this year by Forbes.

So, what exactly constitutes providers of “fake PR” services? Here, in totally random order, are some qualifiers to consider:

  • Void of strategic direction and use of research.
  • Reliant on vanity metrics for demonstrating progress or success.
  • Failure to recognize the evolution and growth of strategic public relations in the 21st century.
  • Focused primarily or entirely on media relations and publicity.
  • Violation of or lack of awareness for established ethical standards.
  • Absence of any formal or voluntary education in public relations or communications within the account team.
  • Not comprehending the difference between public relations and marketing or advertising.
  • Distribution of news releases, social media posts and web content that lack news value or are erroneous.
  • Failure to recognize that public relations professionals provide strategic counsel that transcends the perfunctory, specifically media relations.
  • And, equating public relations with propaganda.

These thoughts hopefully will inspire others to comprehend the idea of “fake PR” and continue the dialogue.

Now, it’s your turn: What can you add to this discussion?

* * *

The PRDude has tackled this subject before. Here are a few posts to revisit:

 

 

 

Rob Goldstone, Ethics and Public Relations

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

Updates continue from news sources world wide regarding the recent disclosure regarding Donald Trump, Jr. and his meeting in June of 2016 with an attorney reportedly tied to the Kremlin.

This report published earlier today from Reuters provides the President’s comments on this (as it’s known in the industry) “developing story.”

We’ll let the global news organizations continue their respective investigation.

Rob Goldstone. Photo courtesy of dailyentertainmentnews.com

In this space, we’ll put some analysis toward the actions of Rob Goldstone, the celebrity publicist who initiated the meeting between Mr. Trump, Jr., his brother in law Jared Kushner, and one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

A July 11 report from the New York Times provides an account of the email exchange, which Mr. Trump, Jr. shared with the world yesterday.

Upon reading the initial email message from Mr. Goldstone, those of us dedicated to the practice of ethical public relations had to share a collective “what the hell is he doing?” thought.

This passage from the June 3, 2016 email sent by Mr. Goldstone violates values and standards of conduct established to elevate public relations beyond propaganda and hucksterism:

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

Read this part again: “…official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary…”

Poor grammar and run-on sentence aside, this sinister communication is plain wrong for the founder of a New York-based communications firm and a person one would think would be removed from this kind of unsubstantiated messaging.

Mr. Goldstone opened the door violations of perhaps four Provisions of Conduct set by the Public Relations Society of America:

  • Disclosure of Information
  • Safeguarding Confidences
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Enhancing the Profession

Review these PRSA provisions and share your thoughts on Mr. Goldstone’s communications practices — practices that may have had an impact on the 2016 presidential election.

And, if you’d like to pose a question or offer a comment to Mr. Goldstone about his actions, his firm’s website includes his contact information.

 

Recollection of a Man Who Knew What It Was Like Not to Have Freedom

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

A poignant and compelling commentary read in today’s print issue of the Chicago Tribune inspired this Independence Day 2017 post.

The opinion piece by Chicago attorney William Choslovsky ran under the headline, “We the people have a democracy to celebrate.”

Take a moment to read the thoughts from Mr. Choslovsky.

Done?

Okay back to my thoughts on this day, our nation’s 241st birthday.

Image of Stan Borys, a true freedom fighter, courtesy of his website.

Mr. Cholovsky notes how he gained a newfound perspective on America and the democracy the Founding Fathers created during a trip to the Middle East. There, a shopkeeper noted that in many nations, even those thought to be “democracies,” freedom — as guaranteed by our Constitution — really does not exist.

That thought brought back memories of my old friend Stan Borys, a Polish-born musician and actor I knew way back in the 1980s and 1990s when he lived in Chicago.

As a freelance writer for the Illinois Entertainer and other local periodicals, I got to interview some fascinating (and some not-so-fascinating) musicians for feature articles and profiles. Stan was one the most memorable and engaging.

During one conversation, I recall Stan noting that — and I paraphrase — “American musicians sing about not having freedom. I know what it’s like to not have freedom.”

What he was referring to, of course, was having lived in the Poland of the Cold War era, the years before the Solidarity trade union (or Solidarnosc in the Polish language) set the wheels in motion to break free from the Soviet bloc.

Stan made his thoughts about living under a Communist government known in his music, which as noted in this online report, often got him into trouble.

(Another recollection: Stan said he played Ray Charles music over the camp audio network one morning while completing required service in the military; yes, that got him into trouble.)

Like the shopkeeper remembered by Mr. Choslovsky, Stan’s comment about freedom will make me cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America — especially on this day.

Given the mammoth challenges we the people face in the years ahead, it’s our right to freedom that will ensure the nation can celebrate its 242nd birthday.

One Image, One Question: Muskogee, OK

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

Before there were interstate highways, there were main streets —  gateways to business and commerce and culture.

A solitary scene on what once was a vibrant, thriving small-town downtown.

Every small and medium-sized town across America had a main street; but, many communities haven’t been the same since the four-lane, limited access highways were built 60 or so years ago.

This image of Broadway Street, in Muskogee, Oklahoma — the town’s main street, although there is a Main Street — was taken Saturday, June 17. We were in this community in the northeast part of the Sooner State for a memorial service, and I decided to go for a stroll downtown.

The time, around 11 a.m.  The compelling thought: The absence, aside from myself, of people and traffic on a Saturday morning. There were a few open businesses operating in still impressive and preserved brick storefronts, but patrons were scarce.

I learned downtown Muskogee once had a Sears department store and an independent retailer named Anthony’s. The pedestrian and vehicular traffic certainly would have been robust on a Saturday morning 30 or 40 years ago, not absent as during my visit.

Lots of commerce could be found, however, along the highways surrounding Muskogee. Motels, healthcare centers, big box retailers, fast food restaurants and auto dealerships abound. These businesses were thriving, and workers were completing a new restaurant/bar — I Don’t Care Bar and Grill.

The same can be said, of course, to many small towns and even suburban communities outside Chicago and other cities: Call it development, call it sprawl, but when new business interests and the local economy spreads from the initial urban core, the result is devastating to the fabric of main streets.

Now to the question:

What can small towns like Muskogee, Oklahoma, and many others across the nation do to revitalize its main street?

One obvious strategy: Give people a reason to head downtown again, to make it a destination.

One strategy that should be considered: “Pop up” stores that could occupy vacant or underutilized retail spaces for a day or extended period.

Your thoughts?