World Cup Soccer: Ways to Win New Fans

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

Unless someone proves me wrong, the quadrennial meeting of soccer — or if you prefer, football — teams from nations across the six  inhabited continents is the “biggest” sporting event in the world. Maybe the biggest event of any kind.

Think about it: the World Cup tournament lasts for weeks andWorld cup involves 32 teams from nations as big as the USA and Brazil to little nations like Ghana and Honduras.  The revenue estimates for the host nation is $11 billion, and TV viewership is massive, including here in the United States.

And, there are the fans, lots of fans, in fact.  Fans unlike those for any sport.  “Fan-natical fans.”

But in light of soccer/football’s global popularity, the sport has a ways to go in the United States.  Yes, thousands of passionate supporters (a lot of them a generation below us Baby Boomers) have flocked to bars, office break rooms or outdoor venues to cheer on Team USA.

1358878035-soccer-match-between-cfr-1907-cluj-and-ploiesti-match-in-cluj-napoca_1744201 Still, there’s a large contingent of American sports fans, me included, who think soccer is kickball played by adults — with fake injuries, strange rules and rulings and little to no scoring.  But The PRDude has suggestions to:

  • Grow awareness for the value of following professional soccer.
  • Increase acceptance of professional soccer as a sport worth watching.
  • Drive a generation of naysayers to support the sport.

And, they are:

Scoring: Perhaps the biggest gripe about soccer is that there’s too little scoring.  From what I understand, 2-1 is a high-scoring match.  The PRDude proposes upping the ante.  Yes, keep one goal for a “regular” goal that’s kicked by a striker. But how about 2 or even three “goals” for a header, perhaps the coolest play in soccer.  And, while we’re at it, assess a team a “negative 1 goal” if they fail to put a shot on goal, say every 5 minutes.  How hard could it be? The goals are 24 feet wide!

Fake injuries:  Players try to get away with pretending to be hurt by an opponent in every sport, soccer included. But during the times I’ve watched a match, the slightest bump with an opponent sends players withering in gut-wrenching pain.  A new rule needs to be initiated to address this on-field dishonesty.  My solution: Have the PA announcer bellow, “CHEEEEEEEEET-EEEEEER” (much the same way they describe a “GOOOOOOOOAL”) and require the offender to run backwards for the rest of the game. That will show these phonies.

belusa-650x429Penalties:  Fouls and misconduct are taken seriously in soccer, and there’s no question players break the rules and need to pay for their mistakest. But dispense with handing out yellow and red cards, banishing a player to the penalty box or granting a penalty kick.  Soccer should get tough and enforce serious and perhaps more creative penalties for certain infractions.  Some suggestions: Tie an offending player’s legs together, make him play blindfolded or replace his soccer cleats with stiletto heels.  These are crude, perhaps, but I trust entertaining.

By this time tomorrow, we’ll know if Team USA advances to the next round after its match with what I understand is a crafty Belgium squad.  Thousands of Chicago area fans will flood to Soldier Field to root on our soccer heroes.

Not me, unless of course, they change some of the rules.

 

Chilling With PR Peers: Skyline Awards & DePaul Graduate Showcase

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

Last week culminated in two outstanding events that featured some of the smartest, most engaging and fascinating people I know (or got to know).  At both events, I refreshed relationships with old colleagues and nurtured relationships with new ones.

I’m referring, as you may ascertain, to gatherings of fellow public relations professionals.

The similarities continue.

Both were held in cool venues, both had excellent food and beverage and both reinforced to me something about public relations and those of us who are in this business.  Want to know more?

Here are capsulized reports.

PRSA Chicago 2014 Skyline Awards.

The evening of Tuesday June 10 was a rainy one in Chicago. But that didn’t damper the enthusiasm of the more than 250 attendees at this annual awards gala and dinner. From the Grand Army of the Republic hall at the historic Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago PR community met to recognize excellence, network and socialize. prsa chicago

My big takeaway: Collectively, PR professionals know how to work together and execute a tremendous event driven by volunteer time, energy and spirit.  (As a member of the PRSA Chicago Board, I played a small role in the event: I provided music for the Cocktail Hour.  No, not me on guitar and vocals, but cool modern and traditional jazz via CDs.)  A round of applause to all who made the evening a success, especially event co-chairs Lauren Brush and Sarah Siewert, who worked very hard and speaking of cool, were just that under pressure — even during those last minutes before the crowds arrived.

DePaul University Graduate e-Portfolio Showcase.

DePaulTwo days later, I was honored to attend the Graduate e-Portfolio Showcase sponsored by the DePaul University College of Communication.  Held on the rooftop deck of a vintage building that once housed a department store on State Street, the event provided an opportunity for 19 graduate students from the University’s Public Relations and Advertising program to present their creative work and projects in an informal setting to senior PR professionals.   For the record, I would have attended even if the agenda did not include hors d’oeuvres and an open bar because the invitation to participate came from Ron Culp, professional director of the program and a titan in Chicago’s public relations community.  (Full disclosure: Ron has re-posted a few PRDude blogs on his awesome Culpwrit blog, an outstanding resource for PR careers.)

My big takeaway: As a guest, I was invited to meet with the graduates and view their online portfolios. Clearly, by the talent and work presented, academic institutions are developing people who clearly are ready to lead the communications industry in the future.  I met with eight young professionals who demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities demanded to excel and sculpt communications programs in our digitally-driven world.  Frankly, I’m glad I won’t have to compete with these men and women in the future.  Wish I had time to meet them all.

Tomorr0w, I’ll join Chapter Board members for a rare afternoon meeting. APR 50thI’ll learn about how well the Chapter did financially from the Skyline Awards, hear reports from committees and provide an update on the training program I’m leading to help members earn the Accredited in Public Relations credential.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I really enjoy the public relations profession and the people who are part of it.

 

Dear Chicago Tribune: Since You Won’t Publish My Letter, I Will

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

Perhaps it’s time The PRDude blog was branded with a tagline. What do you think of this one:  “Staunch Defender of the Public Relations Profession.”

Regular follows may recall that I’ve addressed situations where the PR profession was bashed, slandered and subjected to libelous prose.  To defend public relations, I used this digital pulpit to challenge the wrong-doers and set the record straight.

In late May it happened again.

The Chicago Tribune, a newspaper I read daily and still support with a home delivery subscription, published a piece in the Sports section that grabbed my attention for two reasons:

1. It concerned the Chicago Cubs and management’s clumsy efforts to get city approval to revitalize venerable Wrigley Field.

2. It connected what I maintain was a management decision to poor public relations counsel.

So I dashed off a Letter to the Editors on May 30.

They haven’t published it, so I will:

Dear Editors:

tribuneAs a public relations professional, I take great offense in the subheadline, “Emanuel embarrasses franchise’s inept PR team,” which accompanied the May 30 column by David Haugh on the efforts by the Chicago Cubs to get approval for modernizing Wrigley Field.

Public relations counsel, whether in-house or contracted, are charged with developing and executing communications programs built upon research driven by sound strategies and measurable results. These actions must be — or certainly should be — approved by management.

Did the headline writer and Mr. Haugh know for a fact that it was the “Cubs’ corporate PR team” that made the decision to charge ahead with plans for a new bullpen and other improvements before conferring with the Mayor’s office? Or, is it possible that the management of the Cubs insisted on unveiling the news?

Admittedly, the Cubs are in need of serious damage control given the circumstances surrounding their plans and efforts to bring their landmark ballpark into the modern age. But it’s troubling that the team’s public relations staff gets lambasted for decisions that may have been beyond their purview.

Sincerely,

Edward M. Bury

It’s this type of inaccuracy about the profession that all of us who are serious PR practitioners need to address quickly and forcefully.  For the record, I would include a link to Mr. Hough’s complete column, but I can’t find it online.

Rest assured, I’ll keep an eye out for future written or verbal barbs slung at public relations and address them whenever I can.  If you’re serious about public relations, serious about its value in modern society, serious about accuracy, perhaps you will too.

* * *

So, now you’re asking: “Back it up, PRDude. Demonstrate how you’ve defended public relations.”  Here are two examples.

1. In a January 2013 post, I fired a shot across the bow of a well-known essayist who mixed up public relations and social media.

2. Back in 2010, I questioned a writer — yes from the Chicago Tribune — who mixed in public relations counsel with the legal counsel defending a man who once was governor of Illinois.