Voter Lookup & Some Thoughts on the Upcoming 2014 Mid-Term Elections

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

The nice people at WordPress, who provide me and millions of others with the technology to communicate to millions of others online, have taken a step forward toward democracy.

That is, they’ve prepared a resource that will helps those of us who are registered to vote in the Mid-Term elections November 4 to learn more about the candidates and issues within our communities.  Yes, the resource is located right below.

It’s pretty simple:  Click on the image below, enter your address in the box and click on the magnifying glass image.

 

i-voted-logo

 

Note: I tried the service by entering my home address, which is where I’ve been registered as a voter for the past 14 years, and got a nice statement that stated “no election information found,” and encouraged me to try closer to Election Day. Perhaps I will, but I applaud WordPress for its efforts.

Now, onto another election-related topic, one perhaps even the most

If you're registered to vote, make your voice count November 4. Vote!

If you’re registered to vote, make your voice count November 4. Vote!

seasoned and savvy pundits have yet to address:  The use by candidates of a nickname.

I’m inspired to comment on this subject after reading an article yesterday announcing the proposed candidacy of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County Commissioner, into next year’s race for Mayor of Chicago.  I don’t know how this public official got the nickname of “Chuy,” but as a public relations professional, I think it’s advantage in building awareness and standing out in what may be a crowded field.

In fact, I recommend that every dark horse candidate running for office consider employing a nickname.  These generally appear on the ballot, so that may help sway an undecided voter.

As a service to future Americans planning to run for office, The PRDude offers these suggestions:

  • “Honest” — simple, I know, but effective even if it’s not true.
  • “Joe” — may be popular with the regular “Joes” out there.
  • “Jane” — let’s not forget the ladies.
  • “Happy” — who wouldn’t vote for someone who was happy?
  • “Grumpy” — might sway Disney fans.

Think this is a lot of malarkey? Then read this obit about the recently departed Harry “Bus” Yourell, a long-time Chicago area pol who never — let me repeat that — never lost an election in five decades.

Hey, it worked for Bus.

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What Would Nelson Algren Think About The Old Neighborhood Today

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

On Tuesday, Susan and I attended a screening  of “Algrren,” a compelling new documentary film about the late Chicago writer Nelson Algren, best known for chronicling stories about the seedy, down-and-out side of the city in the decades before and after World War II.

AlgrenFor much of his adult life as a writer of fiction, Algren lived in and around the Wicker Park neighborhood, not far from West Town, the neighborhood where I was born and raised.  Given the dramatic cultural and economic changes that have taken place, one has to wonder whether Algren would appreciate or even recognize his Chicago today.

As depicted in black and white footage, still images and commentary from people who knew the writer and others, the film reveals that Algren frequented dive bars, gambling dens, brothels, police stations, boxing rings and other places far outside polite society.  It was an ugly, dirty and depressing corner of the city; yet Algren often found beauty, truth and passion in Chicago’s downtrodden and the shadowy places they inhabited.algren-logo

The film does not reveal much new about Algren, his life and loves (he had a four-year affair with French feminist writer Simone de Beauvior) and his writings.  But there’s plenty of interest for true scholars as well as more casual fans of Algren, like myself.

(An aside: One short story from Algren’s great “Neon Wilderness” collection, “A Bottle of Milk for Mother,” sets a strong-arm murder a few houses away from the home I lived in the first  19 years of my life.)

But if Algren strolled along North Milwaukee Avenue today and hung out with the current residents of Wicker Park, Bucktown or other gentrified North Side neighborhoods, I doubt he’d find the inspiration to write “The Man With the Golden Arm.”

Yes, the street grid is pretty much the same, and most of the same store fronts and two-flats are still standing.  There might even be an operating tavern or two Algren frequented back in the day.

What’s gone from much of Chicago is the character — and characters — that drew the writer to live with and portray life from the perspective of those people hanging from the fringes.  Algren’s Chicago was black and white, but man was it colorful in its own way.

There’s nothing wrong with change, and in today’s world change happens a lot faster and with more profound impact than in generations ago.

Perhaps that’s why, as noted in “Algren,” in 1975 the writer boarded a train East and eventually settled in a small rented home in Sag Harbor on Long Island in 1980.  His Chicago was a place he could never find again.

 

 

 

 

 

More Blurred Lines of Communication?

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

Some big news surfaced yesterday on the communications front.  As detailed in this article originally published in Advertising Age, an iconic Chicago-based company known for creating some of the best-known equity characters in advertising history has teamed up with a relatively new but extremely influential digital aggregator and blogger of news and commentary.

What would the late Leo Burnett say about his company's partnership?

What would the late Leo Burnett say about his company’s partnership?

Their goal, as stated in the article is “to develop strategies and then produce content for the ad agency’s clients.”  (And, of course, to make lots of money in the process.)

The players: Leo Burnett and Huffington Post.

Or, in other words: The ad agency that created Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna and the Marlboro Man now joins forces with writers from the top-ranked digital media empire to draft and distribute paid media messages.  Or in other words, write what used to be called “advertorials,” or articles that are paid for, just like TV, radio, digital, print, transit and other advertisements.

On HuffPo, as the site is known, and other online platforms, paid content is identified by a “sponsored link” disclaimer.

So what’s my take-away from this development?  Here are two thoughts:

1. Makes Sense. In this ever-increasing digital  age, competition is fierce for an audience’s time and attention.  I trust

Wouldn't you like to be the fly on the wall in a conversation between Ms. Huffington and Mr. Burnett?

Wouldn’t you like to be the fly on the wall in a conversation between Ms. Huffington and Mr. Burnett?

the HuffPo content writers have the skills to draft content that generates visits that lead to sales.  The creatives at Burnett know their clients and their products and services.

2.  Divide and Conquer. Both companies are businesses, and business should make a profit. So, why not consolidate forces to produce a better product?  After all, there are plenty of ways a company can spend money to influence the consumer or business audience.

But, I wonder if this partnership will prompt other communications firms — be they advertising, traditional or digital

media, and of course, public relations firms — to do the same. And, if so, will a company lose sight of its focus, its true mission?

Will lines of communication in regards to the originator become more blurred when disseminated to the target audience?

Stay tuned, but I’d like to put  the late, legendary Mr. Leo Burnett in a room with the very much alive Arianna Huffington and get their perspectives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Role of Public Relations in Modern Society: A Visual Portrait

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

Okay, the image below looks like, well modern art.  And, indeed, it is — but art with some great insight role public relations and other forms of modern communications has played in shaping modern society.

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This image — probably inspired by one of those graphics showing the human anatomy — was part of an exhibition on display in one of the student galleries on the university campus where I work here in Chicago.

Regrettably, I did not learn the name of the artist when I took this and the following photo images in August of this year.  Along with the artist’s technical and creative skills, he or she was on target in communicating how government policy, world events and advancements in communication shape our world.

I was inspired to draft this post for two reasons:

1. I think the image is a very cool and compelling piece.

2. It reinforces the value of using visuals to better communication and build awareness for a message.  Think a modern infographic — but much more creative.

Here are some close up views.

A close up shows the impact and offshoots of Mass Media.

A close up shows the impact and offshoots of Mass Media and the beginning of modern marketing. Note that Public Relations shares a “vein” with Advertising.

 

And, this close up reveals the impact of television on modern society.

And, this close up reveals the impact of Television on modern society, leading to what I guess is a “heart” that pumps Market Research and Brand Management.

Sometimes those of us in the public relations profession — and advertising and marketing, too, I guess — lose sight of the fact that we’re a relatively small part of the general scheme of things.

This awesome work of art puts that into a perspective anyone can visualize.