Grasping For An Answer On Why The Media Misrepresents Public Relations

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

The venue was outstanding: A cool, modern private club in downtown Chicago.

The event attracted a dynamic crowd: Public relations leaders from across the metropolitan region.

To me, the perfect combination to gain insight into a question that has been a nagging issue for years. First, some background.

The Arts Club of Chicago, shown here in a warmer time of the year.

Last evening, I joined public relations professionals at the PRSA Chicago 2018 reception to honor the Distinguished Leader of the year. The event was held at the Arts Club of Chicago just off North Michigan Avenue. For 2018, the chapter honored Jon Harris, the highly-respected Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer of Conagra Brands.

It would be an opportunity to visit Chapter friends I’ve known over the years, and of course, meet new members of the profession.

But, I had an ulterior “alternative” motive, of sorts: Seek insight from the senior public relations professionals assembled as to what the industry could do to address the misrepresentation of “public relations” by the media.

Navigating between samples of passed hors ‘doeuvres and glasses of red wine, I saw an opportunity to chat with a distinguished man sitting alone. After introductions, the man said he manages the Chicago office of a well-known agency and entered the profession following years as a newspaper reporter.

Outstanding, I thought: This man can bring a perspective from both sides of the equation.

So, sensing the awards ceremony was about to commence, I presented my question, citing a recent example of media misrepresentation, one that was glaring, obvious and to me, stunningly stupid.  He paused for a moment and appeared slightly taken aback.

“Well, you know,” he said, “Sometime we work to keep our clients out of the media.”

I nodded.

The ceremony began.

My question remained unanswered. Rest assured, I will keep searching, keep asking.

What the Calendar Tells Me This Thanksgiving Eve

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

Along with celebratory events, there are a couple of academic-related and a dental appointment on my December schedule.

It all starts in earnest today.

Thanksgiving Eve metaphorically ushers in the “holiday season,” a bittersweet time from some perspectives. (Although “holiday” focused advertisements and other promotional messages have blanketed print, broadcast and digital mediums for several weeks.)

For those who could count their blessings through health and prosperity, family and friends, it’s indeed “the most wonderful time of the year.”

But for those who are sick and in need of food and shelter, alone or cast aside, it’s just another five-plus weeks of despair, sadness and uncertainty.

I count myself in the former group, blessed and thankful, although concerned that in this world we’ve inherited and nurtured that more of us are not included among those who have reason to be thankful.

The image of the calendar that accompanies this post reveals (if you can decipher my somewhat shoddy penmanship) notations of holiday-based parties and events slated for the month ahead — and that’s what I have scheduled as of today.

If history is an accurate barometer, assuredly there will be more appointments to note.

For the fact I was invited to share this time of year with others, I am, indeed thankful. There will be merriment, laughter, spirited conversation, food and libations.

From another perspective, I’m thankful for this time — right now — as I share these thoughts from my quiet office. It’s during these solitary times I find truth and beauty.

The Armistice on This Day in History

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

This image of the poppy is courtesy of the Guardian.

On this day, November 11, 100 years ago, an armistice was signed to end the “War to End All Wars.” Today, the world remembered.

Obviously, this lofty objective for mankind didn’t happen.

And, based on what’s taking place in some parts of the world, unfortunately, the end of war won’t happen — at least not any time soon.

But to put the armistice ending World War I to perspective, here’s a short account of wars the United States has been involved in since 1918, and when the fighting stopped:

  • World War II — The Axis powers surrendered on May 8, 1945.  The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945.
  • Korean War — Fighting ended on July 27, 1953, with an armistice that approximately restored the original boundaries between North and South Korea.
  • Vietnam War — On January 15, 1972, all U.S. combat activities were suspended. Unfortunately, the fighting continued until April 1975 when Saigon fell to the communists.
  • Gulf War — With the code name of Operation Desert Shield, this war in Iraq ended January 17, 1991.
  • War in Afghanistan — The U.S. involvement started in 1999. The U.S. still has armed forces in this war-ravaged nation.

Of course, there are many, many other wars that took place since the armistice was signed a century ago — and some were undeclared conflicts like the Cold War.  (Is that conflict really over?)

Regardless, I just hope the powers of the world can revisit what led to the start of World War I and want led to its end. Perhaps it will take less than 100 years to mark the end of a war that really means the end of all war.