Why I’m Feeling Blue, Not Green. A Post St. Patrick’s Day Post

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

As I write this post, the day after the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day “holiday,” I have a profound sense of a color besides Kelly green.  I’m blue.

Blue because the world as I see it is spinning on its axis in the wrong direction.  Leaning too far to the left (or right), and not from a political perspective.   Drowning in a sea of conformity and acceptance.  Okay. Enough with the purposeful metaphors.

Here in my hometown of Chicago and elsewhere, the multitudes “celebrated” St. Patrick’s Day, reportedly a day to honor the patron saint of Ireland, the guy who according to legend drove out the snakes a long time ago.  I trust the snakes all drowned because Ireland is an island.

Here we dye the Chicago River a rich green and thousands — reportedly tens of thousands yesterday — line the streets downtown for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  And why not? We’ve had a long line of Irish mayors (Daley the First, and Daley the Second, most notably),  global business interests with Gaelic names (Aon Insurance — “aon” means “oneness” and it was founded by a guy named Patrick Ryan) and plenty of pubs and restaurants named after Irishmen and women — real and imaginary.

So why have I not embraced the “greenness” of St. Patrick’s Day here in mid-March?  Here’s why:

1. The Commercialization of the Holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has basically lost any of its cultural heritage or significance.  When was the last time you read about this guy from Ireland who chased out the snakes?  Or about any of the leaders of the struggle for Irish independence?  No, St. Patrick’s Day is mainly about drinking, using the holiday to hawk products or services and wearing something green.   Note the graphic below for an example.

The PRDude does not have reservations about any of these.  Hey, I’m in public relations and marketing — communications disciplines that build relationships and promote things and services we need and buy. But this development is indicative of the way holidays have been denigrated into efforts to basically sell beer and trinkets.  Think about it.  We use dancing cartoons of Lincoln and Washington to sell mattresses; the Easter Bunny hawks chocolate eggs; Halloween has “evolved” from an opportunity for kids to collect candy from neighbors into a platform for adults to dress like zombies or the latest reality star.  Don’t get me started about Christmas.

2.  What’s Happening to the Weather?  As I write this, it’s 74 degrees.  Earlier today, the mercury climbed to around 80 degrees.  It’s March, when we should be basking in 40 or 50 degree temperatures in the Midwest, donning raincoats and toting umbrellas around.

This is not “normal,” and I don’t like it.  Flowering bulbs that should be blooming in April are in full bloom.  Magnolia trees that normally explode with color in April are now flowering. Turf is starting to grow.  People are outside sunbathing!  Here we just completed a “winter that wasn’t” and now have lost spring to early summer.  The weatherman said we’ve set five new record highs for the month — and there’s still two weeks to go. Talk about March Madness off the basketball court.

A magnolia tree in full bloom in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood on March 18.

Our world is changing.  And, maybe not all for the better.  Sometimes, it’s beneficial looking back to the essence of a holiday or event that truly makes it meaningful, that truly gives it purpose.  Sometimes the cold, wet and bleak days of March make us enjoy and appreciate spring and summer when it does arrive for good.   There.  I’m not as blue anymore.

Ways to Save After Daylight Saving Time Ends

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

Some time yesterday, most of us set our clocks forward to return to Standard Time, saying “goodbye” to Day Light Saving Time.  (It case you didn’t touch your time pieces, it’s an hour earlier that you think.) The real purpose behind the national initiative, of course, is to take advantage of more daylight hours.

But hey: Aside from tech start-up wizards who get bought out for nine figures or hedge fund managers who probably make that much, we all should be focusing on saving something these days.

As a public service initiative, the PRDude offers these ways to save time– certainly something of value — until we switch back to Daylight Saving Time this fall when we’ll save, well, daylight again.

  • Following the GOP Presidential Race.  Seriously, Mitt Romney pretty much has got the race locked, unless he does or says something really dumb when the primary race moves to a big state like Texas or Illinois.  He’s just got too much of the two “m-words” going for him: Money and momentum.  So why listen to more empty rhetoric until the Republicans meet in Tampa this August.  After weeks and weeks of debates and more recently, the primaries, is there anything of significance that Governor Romney, Senator Santorum or Speaker Gingirch has to say that we haven’t heard? Oh yes, Congressman Paul, too.  Want to spend time following a race that means something to Americans these days?  Read the next item.

  • Deciding on Your Final Four Picks. Yesterday also was “Selection Sunday,” or the day many of us who don’t regularly follow college hoops — me included — start following the game because of the exciting NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  And, the fact that some people actually lay down wagers on the games. Yes, we’re in March Madness, meaning roundball prognosticators will spend hours studying stat after stat right up to the start of First Round play Thursday, March 15 to complete their brackets.  Spend your time this week doing something else because the Final Four will be comprised of Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse and Kansas. How do I know this?  I have a “system,” which I can’t share because I’m entering two pools.  But please feel free to share any insight on preventing your brackets from being busted too early.

  • Contemplating the True Definition of  “Public Relations.” A couple of days ago, the Public Relations Society of America announced the results of an initiative to offer an “official” definition of “public relations,” the noble communications practice that inspired this blog and continues to be its driving force.  The definition, which was vetted online by the membership from three choices, strikes a responsive chord from The PRDude:  “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Adding “strategic” really solidifies this definition for me; without a defined strategy, what many believe is “public relations” more than likely falls under “publicity.”  Disclaimer: I’m a proud member of PRSA.  The take away from this segment: Now that the world’s largest body governing public relations has defined the practice, allocate time to learn how to be a better practitioner.

What are your suggestions for saving time?  And, don’t say: “Stop wasting time reading blogs like this one!”