Thirty Days Have September, April, June … And Illinois (Finally) Has a Budget!

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

Well, I think so.

As of this writing, late afternoon on June 30, 2016, both houses of the Illinois legislature have agreed to a “stopgap” budget to fund education, transportation and human services here in my home state for the next six months. Now it needs the governor’s signature.

All is well in Springfield, Illinois, the seat of power in the Land of Lincoln, now that a half budget has been approved.

All is well in Springfield, Illinois, the seat of power in the Land of Lincoln, now that a half budget has been approved.

In case you haven’t been following this monumental story, the elected legislators of Illinois were supposed to have a budget passed on June 30 — of 2015.  As one could imagine, this lack of fiduciary responsibility has led to lots of challenges for the people who live and work here and the companies who do business here.

I’ll reserve any commentary on the factors behind this momentous lack of prudent governance. Other commentators have blasted first-term Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the General Assembly for, in light of a better phrase, playing politics to an extreme perhaps never realized in modern governmental history.

I will comment and offer some public relations counsel on what needs to — or better yet, should — happen next.  As a service to the people of Illinois, let me propose this framework of a plan using the classic four-step public relations program concept.

  1. Define the Threat or Opportunity: Most plans address one or the other. Illinois today faces both. Threat: Continued loss of stature, reputation, people, businesses and revenues. Opportunity: To demonstrate to the nation and world that even dysfunctional governments can change.
  2. Conduct Research: This should be fairly straightforward: Calculate how much the state has lost over the past 365 days (note topics in “threat” from #1 above) and what value can be gained through sound governance.
  3. Communicate: Issue regular — perhaps daily — messages on how the government is working to do what it’s supposed to do: Exercise executive authority fairly and justly to the benefit of all its citizens.
  4. Evaluate and Make Revisions: One target date to consider is November 8. That’s Election Day in Illinois and nationwide. You know what I’m referring to.

Yes, this is simplistic, and I strongly doubt that the elected officials across the state will take notice.

But Illinois has only one direction to go. And, hey, legislators are half-way to the finish line.

NOTE: As a disclosure, I work for a state university; I wrote this post on my own time. My comments are my own.

PR Firms and BBB Accreditation: Questions

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

Along with the usual main news, business, sports, and arts sections, the June 22 issue of our home delivered Chicago Tribune also included a tabloid publication.  No, not the rival Chicago Sun-Times, but a Consumer Resource Guide published by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

BBB two

Think I’ll hold onto this publication; just in case.

The purpose of the insert was to celebrate the BBB’s 90th anniversary of providing service to people and businesses here in metropolitan Chicago. The contents contained BBB rated businesses, and a reasonable amount of display ads.  (Hey, print publication ain’t cheap.)

Let me offer my most sincere congratulations. I wholeheartedly support the work of this organization, which “sets high ethical standards for business conduct.” Learn more by scanning the BBB Business Partner Code of Conduct.

Now, on to the focus of this post. I scanned the 40-page report and learned that the mortgage broker we’ve used to finance and re-finance our home was listed, as was the company that replaced the roof on our garage last year.

BBB one

Note the two public relations firms, right between Public Opinion Analysts and Publishers.

But, what I found somewhat puzzling was the fact that there were only two public relations firms listed: GreenMark Public Relations, Inc., a firm headquartered in the north Chicago suburb of Mundelein, and FLEISHMANHILLARD, a global firm with offices in Chicago.  (Note: All caps with no space is how the firm was listed in the BBB report.)

For the record, the BBB report had 30 listings for Advertising/Marketing firms or Agencies/Counselors and five for Communications firms.  And, there were lots and lots of mortgage brokers and roofing companies

This prompted some questions:

  1. Most obvious, why are only two Chicago firms BBB Accredited?
  2. What value do public relations firms — companies that in theory are charged with strengthening client’s reputations — find in earning third-party endorsement, like from the BBB?
  3. Should organizations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) champion BBB Accreditation?

As a public relations professional who earned the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential, I support and value voluntary initiatives that substantiate my ability to deliver sound, ethical communications counsel.  This, I maintain, is especially true for public relations, a profession not licensed in this country.

And, yes, I did check the BBB list for bloggers. Not a category they list just yet. But I’ll keep checking.




A Guide to PR 101 … And Then Some

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

Those of us who contribute to the blogosphere certainly appreciate getting recognized for our contributions.

I certainly do.

techfunction1That’s why I was honored to receive an email from business writer Phoebe Parlade, inspired to reach out after reading a 2016 PRDude post.  Phoebe, who writes for the U.K. magazine TechFunction, thought I would be interested in reviewing an online report designed to guide business owners on how to incorporate strategic public relations.

Well, I am the PRDude and I was flattered that my humble blog inspired this inquiry. And, I sort of covered this topic in a post from March of this year.

The report, “What Is Public Relations?,” is a very cool and valuable digital resource that provides insight and information to business owners — or anyone who wants to better comprehend public relations.  (And, for the record, the resource is produced by TechFunction.)

Visitors to the site will learn an accurate definition of the practice and some relevant history dating from ancient times to today. The section on relevant modern PR quotes features tweets from leading practitioners and thought leaders, including my amazing Chicago friend and colleague Gini Dietrich, profiled in this space in 2015.  And, the content that addresses public relations in the digital age provides a solid analysis of the impact of digital in shaping and controlling the modern conversation.

And, as one would anticipate, there’s a large amount of content that addresses strategies and tactics.  I concur with much of what is presented, but wouldn’t advise business owners to follow the link to the press release template and follow the advice presented.  My advice is to hire a seasoned public relations professional for this task. Drafting a compelling news story/release is not a paint-by-numbers exercise.

But what struck home for me was this: Throughout the report, the authors drive home the fact that public relations is a strategic process and “more aligned with the management of all relationships and communication between an organization and the public.”

Well said, indeed.


One Image, One Question: June 5, 2016

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

Like many around the world, I was saddened to learn of the passing Friday of Muhammad Ali — the greatest in a lot of ways.

This print, "Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston," hangs above our vintage radio-phonograph.

This print, “Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston,” hangs above our vintage radio-phonograph.

Yes, he was the boxing heavyweight world champ three times.  And, he was equally a champion in battling against injustice and for equality and human rights here in the United States and across the globe.

But what intrigues me to this day was Ali’s mastery of communication surrounding his boxing career and life outside the ring. Punctuated by poetry, driven by honesty and framed in braggadocio, Ali could drive home a message much more effectively and convincingly than most who were trained and scripted to do so. Then and especially today.

I’m not sure if Ali received any formal counsel from public relations professionals, but he clearly was in a class by himself when prompted  to share his thoughts, or speaking spontaneously, which of course happened a lot.

Now, onto today’s image and question.  The image at left shows a charcoal print titled, “Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston.” It’s from 1999, and it hangs in our living room above, appropriately enough, a vintage Grundig Majestic radio-phonograph.

The print is signed, but I can’t make out the name of the artist (Martin Ivy, perhaps); Google and eBay searches did not reveal any results. If you’re unsure of the symbolism, the work depicts the dramatic 1964 Ali victory over Liston in a match held in Maine. Neil Leifer, a photographer for Sports Illustrated, captured an image of Ali towering over a downed Liston.

The word “iconic” perhaps doesn’t do justice to all that’s captured in this one frame shot by Mr. Leifer. So, for the question:
What other iconic photographic images have inspired artists to create paintings, sculpture or literature?

Champ, rest in peace. You lived life on your own terms, and you touched many, beyond that mean left hook or right cross.

And, one more question: Who is the artist behind the print?