This is All I Plan to Say About “Chicagoland”

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

It’s over.

Now, I’ll find something more productive to do on Thursday nights, rather than editorialize over the eight-part CNN “documentary” called “Chicagoland.”

When the first installment was aired in March, I shared these thoughts. Now that the series is over, I’m not pleased by the portrayal given to my city, and I’m in pretty good company.

chicagoland.twoReports I’ve read in the local media were not kind to the producers of this ambitious project.  And, this recent extensive piece in the Chicago Tribune offers some fascinating insight on the making of “Chicagoland,” charging that many scenes were staged.  What’s more, the report details the consulting services provided by a prominent Chicago public affairs to the production team.

But here’s what stung my sensitivities:

The Myopic Perspective. The name of the production, at least to me, inferred that “Chicagoland” would shine light on a broad range of topics and subjects, people and places — enough to provide an accurate, realistic perspective of Chicago and its environs in 2013, when the bulk of the filming took place.  After all, this tale spanned eight hours (minus commercials). Why did the producers virtually ignore the business community, the vital role played by transportation, the arts community, the suburbs for crying out loud!

Instead, we were subjected to scene-after-scene featuring Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Fenger High School Principal Elizabeth Dozier, punctuated with footage showing the aftermath of violence, followed by comments from Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy.  And, as illustrated in the graphic above, these three people were the stars of the show.

The Gratuitous Cameos.  Bluesman Buddy Guy. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley. World-renowned chef Grant Achatz.  Conductor Riccardo Muti. These famous Chicagoans all got some face time during the series; but their time on camera really didn’t advance any story lines.

Why didn’t the producers convince a long-standing business person to share his or her perspectives? Or a leader from one of our institutions of higher learning?  We have a few good ones, you know.

The Lack of Anything New. Read the news reports.  Chicago has violence, and it’s gut wrenching, horrifying and and seemingly out of control in some neighborhoods.  It’s destroying the very fabric of what once were sound, stable communities.

So, did we need a mini-series disguised as objective film making to tell us and the rest of the world that people are routinely being shot and killed?  I say no.

One more thing: Less famous Chicagoans — people like me — also have insight on where the city’s been and can offer projections on where it’s going.   And, to their credit, the producers did feature some common folk.

But not enough.

Perhaps the next time a crew from California comes to town, they’ll talk to more of us.





Shameless Self-Promotion: A Post on Accreditation Published by PRSA Chicago

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

This post most assuredly will be short.

Very short.

The reason: I want you to read this post, one published last week as the debut to Insights, a blog hosted by my friends and colleagues at PRSA Chicago.

APR 50thIn the post, “Get Serious About Public Relations and Your Career: Earn the APR Because You Want To,” I make a case for earning the credential and cite some personal thoughts and insight.

Accredited PR professionals — and I’m sure many, many other communicators — understand and support the concept of open disclosure in the ethical practice of public relations.  Here goes:  I’m the 2014 Chapter Accreditation Chair and hopefully my thoughts will inspire others.

So please read the post — the one noted above, I mean.  The post is relevant now because the APR turns 50 this year, and PRSA christened April at Accreditation Month.  But I hope all serious practitioners will consider Accreditation at some point in their careers.

If you’re Accredited, share why you pursued the APR.

If you’d like to read more of my musings on Accreditation, here are some other posts to consider:


What Happens When You Google People You Used to Know

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

We’ve all done it.

Surely you have at some time.  Right?

I’m referring to typing your name into that Google (or Yahoo, or Bing) search window and striking — perhaps with some consternation — the Enter key.

Those of us who have a robust digital footprint (or in other words online googlegeeks like me who publish and post stuff regularly) probably aren’t too surprised by the results.  And, for the record, I do check on the number of visits to this blog, reply to comments on my Facebook page, post retweets and monitor replies to LinkedIn posts.

But have you ever googled the name of a person you used to know?  Someone you haven’t had any connection with for years?  For decades?

Call it time wasting, call it curiosity, but I did that the other day.

ISU LogoI googled the names of two people I knew during my undergraduate years at Illinois State University.  I’ll keep their full names confidential, but here’s what I found:

1. Central Illinois Farm Guy: This fellow, who resided on the same dormitory floor as I did my freshman year, hailed from a farming community farther downstate and spent weekends at home.  We might have talked over a beer a few times, but we weren’t all that close.  Something about my hair and Chicago accent that might have rubbed him the wrong way.

The Google findings: He’s still living in the same town and, you guessed it, he’s a farmer — apparently a prosperous and successful one.  An online report noted he “raises corn and soybeans using minimum and no-till practices on his family farm,” and he’s involved with the Illinois Soybean Association Marketing Committee.

2. Girl From the Newspaper Staff:  Writing for the ISU Daily Vidette newspaper was one highlight of my years in college.  I took notice of one female colleague for two reasons:  She was smart and a good writer, and she was pretty damn good looking.  We talked at times about campus news and made small talk, but never dated.

The Google findings: Well, Newspaper Girl earned a Master’s degree from ISU then catapulted to success in academia. She earned a doctorate, served in top administration positions at several universities and “has extensive experience as a senior-level academic administrator and a national reputation in the area of higher education leadership.”  She’s now president of a college in the southeast and a blogger!

Chances are, I’ll never meet Farm Guy or Newspaper Girl face to face. But I’d like to.  I’d share a beer with Farm Guy and learn the strategies and tactics used to market agriculture.  I’d ask Newspaper Girl what prompted her to pursue academia and perhaps share blogging strategies.

Different people, different lives, but some things in common with me.  Like Farm Guy, I didn’t stray too far from home.  And, like Newspaper Girl, I found a way to make a living manipulating words and ideas.

Technology has, indeed, changed our lives, in some cases for the better.  Without technology, I’d probably never know the direction the lives of two people I knew long ago had taken.

Now, I wonder if they ever googled me?


Okay Mr. Ricketts: I Want to Buy a Piece of the Chicago Cubs

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

News last week from the corner of Clark and Addison streets made big headlines here and across the nation.  Unfortunately, the headlines didn’t boast of a dramatic win by the team that plays baseball in the park at that fabled Chicago intersection.

416x31_partyofthecenturyThe news in question: The Ricketts Family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, are contemplating selling minority shares of the ball club.  The extra dollars, or hundreds of millions of dollars actually, would be earmarked for fixing up venerable Wrigley Field, now in its 100th year.

Note to company Chairman Tom Ricketts: Count The PRDude in on this deal. My confirmed contribution amount is below.


I know, that’s not much.  Won’t buy a beer at the ballpark, much less a CubsFrosty Malt if those delicious frozen confections are still sold by vendors.

But, I have added value as a minority investor: I am the PRDude after all and a well-known blogger; and I’m an Accredited public relations professional.

My skills as a seasoned communicator — and long-standing, long-suffering — Chicago Cubs fan most surely will come into value, if not this season then in the years to come.

Like all chronic Cubs fans, my century — make that millennium — would be made if the team won the World Series.  And, like all chronic Cubs fans, I’ll cheer and root through another disappointing season, which 2014 is turning out to be.

(As of this writing, the Cubs are in last place with a 2-5 record; but they are ahead of the Pirates at the moment.)

WrigleyShould the Ricketts family secure the funding they need to rebuild Wrigley, with my $5 included, I would be an ideal fan/investor/counselor to handle communications for the renovation work.  Most of my PR career was representing real estate concerns or associations, I’ve been to the park hundreds of times since the mid 1960s and I have handled a crisis or two.

For credibility, I’ll wear my vintage 1984 Cubs cap and APR  pin during gatherings with the media.  Could any big shot investor bring that kind of credibility?

So what do you say, Mr. Ricketts?  Do we have a deal?  Tell you what: I’ll up the ante to the amount below.


What else has the PRDude had to say about the Cubs?  Here are two posts.

A PR Game Plan from 2010 and a post from last year on a concerted “public relations push.