Questions On the Eve of the Iowa Caucus 2016

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

Unless you’ve put away all electronic devices, tuned out conversation on politics and dropped off the face of modern reality in America today (to modify a counter culture phrase from a long time ago) you should be aware that the state of Iowa will hold its caucus tomorrow.

The prize, of course, is first bragging rights in the presidential elections in November.

Pundits and pollsters, people and political animals have stomped and shouted about the virtues and shortcomings of the many men and two women who are seeking the nod to represent their party for the highest office in the land.

Questions have been asked.

But not by me.

So here are three questions — all communications-based because that’s the focus of this blog after all — from the PRDude regarding the national election ahead.

Many people believe America always has been great. I would think a billionaire would agree.

Many people believe America always has been great. I would think a billionaire would agree.

1. The Trump Campaign Slogan. Donald Trump has stormed out of the gate — and continues to rank on top in Republican race — through barnstorming, bluster and bombast. (Won’t mention his casual use of facts, because that’s another story.)

The question: If Mr. Trump believes it’s time to “Make American Great Again!” wasn’t it great these past few decades when he made his fortune? He repeatedly points out that his bankroll is huge, perhaps due in part to our capitalism and economy. Also, one may argue that the nation was great from its founding days.

2. The Creative Use of Punctuation. A candidate needs to

Yes! Great idea!

Yes! Great idea! Who’s next? You never know; there’s still time in the campaign …

stand out from the pack in a crowded primary race. After all, this is an exercise in marketing.

The question: If Jeb Bush can incorporate an exclamation point after his first name — Jeb! — why don’t other candidates employ this simple tactic? Thought for sure someone would have locked in the hashtag (#), the percent sign (%) and for sure the dollar sign ($) by now.

Perhaps a better image would have shown the candidate seated at a desk talking on a land line.

Perhaps a better image would have shown the candidate seated at a desk, sans shades, talking on a land line.

3. Clinton Image with Cell Phone. During her years as Secretary of State, Democrat Hillary Clinton assuredly spent a lot of time sending and receiving email messages. And, as you may know, there was a controversy surrounding her use of a private email server for government-related correspondence.

The question: Given the dust up over the email issue, why is there an image of Mrs. Clinton on her official website holding a handheld and wearing dark glasses? Frankly, she looks kind of suspicious.

There are other similar questions that might surface between now and election day on November 8. What concerns do you have?

 

 

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Sons of Liberty Spirits: What’s Strategic About Manning Stunt?

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

Sometimes, it’s the short, “filler” type of news stories that catch one’s attention  and — in this case — inspired commentary.

Here’s what happened.

On Thursday, while scanning the Chicago Tribune Sports section, I read a one paragraph story about a Rhode Island distillery that resorted to a silly stunt to generate publicity.

The distillery owners even captured their silly stunt on this image. And, note the signatures -- more than likely those of the proud owners.

The distillery owners even captured their silly stunt on this image. And, note the signatures — more than likely those of the proud owners.

The distillery, Sons of Liberty, reportedly sent a bottle of its spirits and a snarky message to Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning (care of Manning’s wife, Ashley) as a taunt, given the Broncos play the New England Patriots today in the AFC Championship football game. The winner, as you may know, goes to  Super Bowl 50 February 7.

Plain and simple, this stunt was mean-spirited, calloused and apparently not the result of a communications plan driven by ethics and strategy.

Read more about this “marketing initiative” from an online report.  The source is New England Sports Network. And, there’s more to the story, specifically an unfounded report that Manning took a growth hormone.

(Note to NESN writer Mike Cole: This stunt is not “well-played.” It’s garbage. And, it should have nothing to do with today’s AFC Championship game.)

A visit to the Sons of Liberty site did not reference the whiskey dispatch, but the Press Inquires link led to this email address. Through a little investigation, I learned the distillery has contracted DPA Communications of Boston for communications counsel.

Not sure if DPA Communications was responsible for this initiative; if the goal was publicity, they certainly succeeded.

But, I’d like to learn what is gained from this little campaign and how this effort builds awareness and acceptance of Songs of Liberty whiskey that leads to sales.

All I learned is that a producer of spirits resorted to a grandstanding effort that involved an athlete (and his wife) in order to gain some exposure.

I’ll coin a new phrase for this type of tactic: Corporate trollism. Unfortunately, it’s way too prevalent today.

The USA Still a Work in Progress

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

Yesterday, President Obama delivered the State of the Union address, his final such speech on the condition of the nation and its future.

Actually, I was in Washington while the President delivered the address to Congress, the rest of the nation and world.

And, no, I was not invited to attend and I would have respectfully declined had I received an invitation. I was in the nation’s capital to attend a transportation conference on behalf of the university where I work.

Photography is not allowed inside the National Archives Museum, but I did take this exterior image.

Photography is not allowed inside the National Archives Museum, but I did take this exterior image.

But, I have some thoughts about our nation, thoughts shaped by what I witnessed in Washington between meetings and education sessions on transportation. First, let me share what inspired this post.

During a break on Tuesday, I strolled a few blocks to the National Archives Museum on Pennsylvania Avenue; it was a cold day, and museum was not crowded, save for some school kids on a field trip and a handful of visitors like myself.

Work continues on the National Mall. I found this symbolic to the nation as a whole.

Work continues on the National Mall. I found this symbolic to the nation as a whole.

There, in the museum Rotunda, is the document that set in motion our nation. Yes, the real Declaration of Independence, and I had the honor of spending a few minutes before it alone.

“Is this one of the originals?” I asked a nice man who was a volunteer docent.

“Original — it’s the only one,” he said, and then offered more insight on the Founding Fathers, who are depicted in spectacular paintings in the Rotunda.

Of course, there’s lots of historical sites in Washington, and lots of money is being spent to preserve our heritage. At the National Mall across Independence Avenue, I could see lots of construction underway to repair and improve America’s front yard.

Dressed for a cold late morning at DuPont Circle.

Dressed for a cold late morning at DuPont Circle.

During my visit, I stayed at a hotel on DuPont Circle, a wonderful neighborhood that’s home to embassies, great restaurants and galleries.  Around the Circle and in doorways on Connecticut Avenue, I saw another side of America, one beyond the great monuments and public spaces.

Men and women lived in cardboard boxes, draped in layers of coats and blankets to stay warm in the January cold.  Yes, this tragedy takes place in many other parts of America — including Chicago — besides Washington; but it was more poignant to witness it in the capital of the richest nation on earth.

Back to the State of the Union address: The President discussed what’s right with America and the accomplishments made during his administration. And, from another perspective, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley offered a rebuttal from the Republican party.

This is how politics works, here and in other democracies.

But I wonder if — for the sake of Americans living on the streets as well as those of us who have homes to go to at night — that the politics could be put aside so the problems facing the less fortunate can be solved.

I think that’s what the Founding Fathers meant by the often quoted “pursuit of happiness” segment.

 

 

New Year, Same PRDude, Still Public Relations

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

Leave the resolutions and predictions to the other bloggers, prognosticators and pundits.

2016On this first post for 2016, I’ve decided to dispense with the expected “forecast” post. You can google to find out what other public relations professionals think will be the top stories or developments for the balance of the year.

I’m going to continue to publish posts that:

  • Support effective, ethical public relations practices.
  • Challenge those in the media and elsewhere who equate public relations with unfortunate business decisions or propaganda.
  • Seek insight from public relations leaders.
  • Focus on news related to jobs and the employment market.
  • Address news taking place in and around Chicago.
  • Chronicle my (relatively limited, but hopefully increasing) travels to interesting places close and far.
  • And of course, comment on lots of “other stuff” that sparks my interest.

Too often, commentators — in the media, public relations and certainly many other professions — get trapped in a cycle of predictability.

You know how it goes: Start the new year with thoughts on what’s ahead, end the year with “best of” reports.

We know that politics will continue to drive the 2016 news cycle because we’re in a presidential election year. We know that terrorist organizations will continue to slaughter, spread havoc and incorporate sophisticated social media tactics to spread propaganda. We know technology will continue to evolve and greatly impact our lives and the world around us.

So, I’ll dispense with trying to share projections and stick to what’s gotten me this far since the fall of 2009.

I’ll comment on what takes place now.