Oscar Night Redux: When Will Hollywood Dramatize Public Relations?

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

Like many here and around the world, I watched the Academy Awards presentation last night and was thrilled to learn “Spotlight” earned the Oscar of Best Picture.

Perhaps the ensemble cast and production team from "Spotlight" could reassemble to star in a film that centers on public relations.

Perhaps the ensemble cast and production team from “Spotlight” could reassemble to star in a film that centers on public relations.

As a former newsman, I found the film to be incredibly compelling and very well acted; but what really stood out to me: The story captured the inner-workings and drama of what often takes place in investigative news organizations.

“Spotlight” will join the ranks of other cinematic productions — from blockbusters like “All the President’s Men” to “Call Northside 777,” a post World War II film noir set in my old Chicago neighborhood — based on the news business.

Who could portray Ivy Ledbetter Lee on the big screen? My choice would be Kevin Spacey.

Who could portray Ivy Ledbetter Lee on the big screen? My choice would be Kevin Spacey.

But it also inspired this observation: The news profession, and many others, have been extensively chronicled by Hollywood.  So, why has the film industry — or the television industry, for that matter– failed to produce a drama, romcom, bromance or even a documentary about another communications profession (you guessed it), namely public relations?

So as a , The PRDude offers these possible scenarios for a movie treatment:

  1. “The Ivy Lee Story.” Imagine the tension that unfolds as Mr. Lee, called the father of modern public relations, drafts then disseminates his famous “Declaration of Principles.”
  2. “Crisis Communications — The Untold Story.” A behind-the-scenes docu-drama about what really goes on to mitigate bad news when something really, really bad happens to a big corporation.
  3. “The Strategist and The Tactician.” A romantic comedy between a by-the-book SVP and a feisty millennial AE;  set in a global shop that features free ice cream in the break room, of course.

And, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t suggest a movie about a guy who blogs about public relations (and other stuff).

Some stories aren’t meant for the silver screen, you know.

 

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One Image, One Question: February 23, 2016

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

Today the PRDude blog debuts a new concept: Sharing one image followed by a question that (hopefully) will encapsulate the meaning behind the image and inspire your thoughts and comments.

First, some background on the image below. It was taken this afternoon on one of my regular after-lunch walks through the neighborhood near the university where I work. The location is Mary Bartelme Park, a terrific urban spot located in the rapidly gentrifying West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Please visit if you’re seeking a quiet place to relax.

The weather was warm for late February, the skies sunny.  The image was taken with my Samsung Avant handheld, and only cropped a little.

The image:

Dog park

 

The question: Why can’t people act more like dogs?

The four-legged animals shown here — dogs of many breeds, of various sizes — were in a confined area enjoying each other the way dogs do: Running, chasing and checking each other out.

There was not an incident of anger, violence or contempt. I did not observe any weapons drawn or used. To my knowledge, nothing of value was stolen — from people or the dogs.  (There was a spirited chase for a ball, however.)

The dogs all accepted each other.

Let’s juxtapose what I observed on my walk today with a few things happening in other parts of the world.

So, a follow up question to the one above: If dogs can be at peace and respect each other, why can’t people?

Your thoughts?

 

Just What Constitutes a “Cheap” Story These Days?

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

Just about every profession has its jargon — words or phrases unique to those in that industry.

Determining that a news story was "cheap" exemplifies the jargon used in the news business.

Determining that a news story was “cheap” exemplifies the jargon used in the news business.

That certainly was the case when I worked many years ago as a reporter, writer and editor at the City News Bureau of Chicago, the long-gone, unquestionably legendary local wire service.

I recall directives from the city desk editor to “sub out” (write a concluding story based on updated information) a news event that happened earlier.  Or, the desk would order me to write “two books” (a reference to the stationery we used to type out copy — a main sheet followed by three sheets of paper with carbon paper in between) on proceedings that took place that day at Criminal Courts.

And, there was the decision to label a story as being “cheap,” or meaning it didn’t have a lot of sustaining news value.

Fires, burglaries, robberies, accidents and yes, even homicides, could be “cheap” and then “cheaped out,” or not worthy of more reporting and distribution of a subsequent story over the wire.

These days, some stories that would have been considered “cheap” in the late 1970s have dominated the news, and for good reason.

I’m referring to those related to the number of maddeningly persistent and seemingly uncontrollable shootings that have taken place in Chicago these past few years.

Perhaps things would be a lot better if this was the only type of gun available?

Perhaps things would be a lot better if this was the only type of gun available?

I couldn’t find statistics from the years I covered police, fire and courts for City News, but this Chicago Tribune web page graphically illustrates the sad truth about the numbers of people shot here in 2015 and so far this year.

Grim, isn’t it? Nearly 3,000 people shot last year and more than 300 shot during the first six weeks of 2016.

One recent shooting, one that may have been “cheaped out” years ago hopefully will galvanize Chicago — its people, its elected officials, its police — to work collectively to halt the shootings plaguing the city.

Last week, a 16-year-old girl on her way to school was shot in the leg, the victim of a horrific morning exchange of gun play near her home in West Humboldt Park.  Fortunately, she survived, but of course, she’ll have to live with the physical and emotional scars forever.

My friend Juan operated a store at this location until he was shot and killed there one fall evening.

My friend Juan operated a store at this location until he was shot and killed there one fall evening.

My friend Juan was not so fortunate.  Juan (I’ll keep his last name confidential) operated a small convenience store across from our home. He worked 16 hours a day, every day, until one Sunday evening in October of 2007 when someone shot and killed Juan inside the store.

To my knowledge, no one has been charged in Juan’s murder; his store was closed years ago.

Back in the 1970s, there were lots of “cheap” shootings and other kinds of crime. I’d like to think we — as a society — would have learned the value of life and the devastation caused by guns during those many years.

A Super Way to Start This Super Bowl Sunday

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

Perhaps it’s not an exciting way to start off Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, 2016.

A view of northbound Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

A view of northbound Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

But here’s what I did on this unseasonably warm and pleasant morning: I went for a long walk in the neighborhood and stopped for a cup of coffee at a new, independent shop just off Milwaukee Avenue, my favorite street in the world.

Sounds innocuous, uneventful, even predictable, right.

Not so.

My stroll and stop at the Bow Truss shop on Kedzie Avenue gave me an opportunity to break away from my Sunday morning routine of coffee on the couch with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and gain some more insight on the changes taking place in and around Logan Square.

My view from the corner stool on a warm-for-February Sunday morning.

My view from the corner stool on a warm-for-February Sunday morning.

While sitting at the Bow Truss counter, I overheard a conversation between the barista (who hailed from a small town in northern Michigan) and the two guys next to me — one from Toronto, the other from France.  All three had been in Chicago for a short time, all were happy to be here, and all looked forward to learning more about the city.

Using my keen powers of observation (remember, I used to be a reporter), I ascertained that other patrons of the establishment, which was a scary bar back in the early 1990s, also moved to the neighborhood recently; they selected Logan Square because it’s become a very desirable place to live and work, and drink good coffee, too.

Ah, great coffee in a real glass mug!

Ah, great coffee in a real glass mug!

And, as illustrated in the adjacent image, I brought along some of today’s Sunday newspaper to read while I enjoyed the excellent coffee and relaxed atmosphere.

 

Bow Truss is just one of the seemingly dozens of new establishments bringing vitality and diversity to Logan Square. More restaurants, bars and even a brewery will open along Milwaukee Avenue in the near future.

These changes, which are leading to dramatically higher rents and housing prices, come in the wake of what some call “gentrification,” or a process where lower-income residents and business get priced out by newcomers.

And, there’s certainly validity in that perspective.

But Bow Truss replacing a long-gone seedy tavern called the Big O is a reflection of many factors, like market dynamics, the economy and shifting demographics.

Hopefully, those who want to live in Logan Square will still be able to do so. I’d welcome to overhear their conversation about the neighborhood the next time I break my Sunday morning routine.

 * * *

I’ve written about Logan Square (and Avondale, where we live) before. Here are some past posts.