Would You Represent an E-Cigarette Manufacturer as PR Counsel?

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

Several years ago, a friend and I were discussing our careers. My friend held creative positions in advertising and back in the 1970s worked on a major cigarette brand.  A non-smoker, I asked my friend whether she faced any personal issues by helping to sell a product that caused serious ailments and death for generations.

“Well,” my friend said, “It’s still legal to manufacturer and sell cigarettes.”

Two images of vaping today: The outcome for some, and the “cool factor” embodied in a cloud. Image courtesy of Metro UK.

Fast forward to today, and the focus is on another kind of legal smoking product — e-cigarettes.  Over the past several months, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes have been embroiled in controversy regarding their products and the impact on people.

This recent news story reports about lab tests that revealed toxins were found in people sickened by vaping; nationally, the grisly fallout from vaping is sobering: More than 2,000 sickened and at least 39 killed.

Manufacturers of vaping products claim e-cigarettes help adult tobacco smokers quit cigarettes, which on the surface has merits. Yet, given the now regular news coverage of the harmful fallout vaping has created for some users, perhaps that contention is way, way misguided.

For this post, I wanted to learn more; so, I visited the American Vaping Association for insight on the health concerns related to vaping.  I found an article on the “facts” related to illness and death, which cites statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that cite a high percentage of those who got sick used illegal THC vaping products.

There is a Contact page for the AVA, but it’s a little challenging to find because the link is within a drop-down menu accessed by three small horizontal bars to the right of the masthead.  And, the AVA site does have pages devoted to news, testimonials, how to donate and more, all accessed from the somewhat hidden drop-down.

The question to the AVA: Why almost disguise the way viewers reach critical pages on your site?

Back to the anecdote that started this post: Vaping remains legal in the United States. So, to colleagues in the public relations and other communications mediums:

Would you represent the AVA or a vaping products manufacturer as a client?

I’ll start: No.

Public relations should be predicated on doing something beneficial for society. I don’t agree with the vaping industry’s altruistic mantra that their products help adult smokers kick the tobacco habit.

Your thoughts are highly encouraged.

 

 

 

What Will Follow This Week’s Outlandish, Bizarre, Disturbing, Incomprehensible Tweet

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

It’s still early in the third week of October in the year 2019, and already a significant amount of news coverage and analysis is focused on the person who posted a tweet that compares a truly ghastly aspect of American history with a current Congressional investigation.

Read about it here, if you want to know what I’m referring to.  But, I think you do. And, I think you know the author of the tweet in question.

Please push out a tweet that offers a glimmer of hope for the future of the United States of America.

Speaking of questions:

What was the focus of last week’s outlandish, bizarre, disturbing and incomprehensible tweet from this person? I don’t recall. There probably were several similarly malicious tweets that sparked dialogue across all communication channels.

What will be the subject of tomorrow’s outlandish, bizarre, disturbing and incomprehensible tweet from this person?  Who knows. But assuredly, the media and so-called Twittersphere will chronicle the fallout.

Since the first tweet was sent in 2006, a seemingly modest way to send out seemingly innocuous, personal messages — first within a 180-character limit, then doubled to 360 characters — has evolved into a communications medium with the power to command the national and even global spotlight — often with messages of despair, deceit and destruction of the American way of life.

Think about it: What amounts to a couple of sentences can drive what’s deemed important and newsworthy.

That’s why I implore all who read this post to ignore the kind of calculated, often despicable tweets like the one reference here. Go to your laptop or handheld device and tweet out a positive message about our nation, its people and its stature on the world stage.

Perhaps more messages of positivism will overshadow those of unfounded negativity.

 

 

 

If Your Mother Says She Loves You, Check It Out

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

For those wondering about the title of this post, I’ll get to that shortly. But the crowd of current and former news men and women who gathered last night at a quirky downtown Chicago restaurant certainly know what the phrase embodies.

Long-time city editor Paul Zimbrakos (left) was still engaging, still in control, still a dominant presence as he was in the CNB news room.

The event was a reunion of reporters and editors who worked at the legendary City News Bureau of Chicago.  The adjective “legendary” gets tossed around a lot, but in this case it’s appropriate.

We gathered to help preserve the impact this now-gone local news wire service had on Chicago and the lives of those — like me — who had the opportunity to learn the hard news business in an environment that was always fascinating and hardly ever forgiving.

There were stories and memories recounted: The years worked at City News, surviving the midnight shift, how experience there led to the next job in the news business, and that seminal or most compelling story covered. The atmosphere was loud and embracing, with strangers becoming friends over a drink and conversation about the impact City News had on their lives.

A high-point came when Paul Zimbrakos, the long-time (and I mean decades-long)

The reunion at its zenith. The conversation flowed, the memories recalled.

city editor arrived. I waited my turn to greet Paul, who at first didn’t recognize me. After I gave my name, he noted without hesitation that I once called in sick due to a bee sting.  How did he remember that instance, which took place 40 years ago!  (For the record, I was stung in the neck by a wasp and swelled up like a side-show attraction.)

In conversations, I met people who moved on from City News to work in broadcast journalism and public affairs, or like me, leave the news business for public relations or another communications discipline.

I conversed over the din with one outstanding reporter who worked during my era — 1977 to 1979 — and we shared thoughts on our biggest, most memorable stories: His was going door-to-door in Bridgeport to get perspectives on the death in December of 1976 of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, mine was covering the exhuming of bodies from the home of convicted mass murder John Wayne Gacy in December of 1978.

As I rode the Blue Line home later that night, I felt proud and honored to have been a small cog in the news organization that nurtured true journalism.  I look forward to the next reunion and the stories and memories they will bring.

Now, to the title. The message behind this phrase is simple and direct: Investigate, seek confirmation, gathering what’s believed to be the truth. If you don’t believe me, check it out.

 

 

 

Career Advice for Joe Maddon and a Suggestion for the Chicago Cubs

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

Having been in his position before — actually a few times before — I can relate to what Cubs manager and prototypical anti-establishment but successful leader Joe Maddon is experiencing now that the all-but-inevitable decision regarding his future with the franchise was announced just before yesterday’s final regular season game with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wish it wasn’t so, Joe. But hey, that’s baseball. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

In case you missed it, the Chicago Cubs did not offer Maddon a new contract.

“Okay: What the heck do I do now?” Maddon might be thinking. “What do I do after I get up, brush my teeth and have that first cup of coffee?”

All lightheartedness aside, Maddon assuredly will have some weeks ahead where he can cruise the Florida Gulf Coast in his famous RV and field inquiries on another manager position or something else in baseball — or something else in life.

Regardless of his decision, I offer Joe Maddon — and anyone who reads this post and needs to pursue employment — these two kernels of advice:

1. Always remember that you have value in today’s marketplace. If you don’t believe that, how can you convince someone to hire you?

2. Never compromise your integrity. Your reputation follows you forever, especially in today’s digitally-driven age.

Simplistic, I know. But advice everyone from a World Series winning manager with more of a decade of experience at the Major League level or someone starting out in the real world should consider. And, hopefully benefit from.  Full disclosure: I’ve shared these two thoughts frequently, especially two those pursuing public relations and and communications positions.

Now, as for who should be considered to lead the Chicago Cubs to their next World Series:  My advice to Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is to consider candidates with no previous affiliation with the bricks and ivy of Wrigley Field.  Cast the net broad and wide.

Yes, former Cubs catcher and current media personality David Ross officially is on the short list to replace Maddon, as noted in this report from earlier today.  Tremendous guy, that David Ross, with 14 years in the Majors as a player, but none as a manager. Plus, he’s too close to former teammates and too ingrained with the 2016 champions.

No, Theo, look beyond for another iconoclast. Look what happened when Joe Maddon brought his wacky road trip themes, clever sayings, media savvy, knowledge and love of the game to the North Side.  To paraphrase Maddon: Respect the unconventional.

 

 

Patti Temple Rocks Talks About Public Relations and Lots More

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

The subject of today’s post, public relations leader and author Patti Temple Rocks, certainly is well-traveled — in a lot of ways.

As you’ll learn shortly, Patti has held top management positions on the agency and corporate side of public relations. She’s written a well-received book about an increasingly widespread practice in modern business and society.

And, Patti is passionate about visits to exotic locales — but finds true solace much closer to home in Chicago.

Want to learn more?  Please read this dialogue.

1. You’ve held senior communications positions at iconic companies — Golin, Leo Burnett and Dow Chemical. What was the one principle that guided how you managed communications programs?

Yes, there’s a humorous side to Patti Temple Rocks.

I learned a great deal from the late, great Al Golin; but one of my most important lessons of all from Al was the importance of trust — in every single thing we do.  I wanted my clients, my bosses and my teams to always, ALWAYS, know that they could count on me to do what I believed was the right and best thing.  And to know that I  would never, EVER intentionally hurt someone for my own gain.  Trust — that’s what it’s all about.

2. Why did you pursue a career in public relations? Did you envision working in communications during college?  Was there a mentor who inspired you to pursue public relations?

I started my college years thinking I wanted to go into retail merchandising, but a semester working the sales floor at Marshall Fields convinced me otherwise.  I learned that about myself early enough that I was able to change my major. I actually majored in public relations in college — even though it wasn’t an official major where I went to school (Albion College).  Albion offered a program called Individually Designed Major, and if you could convince two professors and the Academic Dean that the course of study you put together actually made sense, it was likely to be approved.  In my case, I had a concentration of communications classes, business, English and took two advertising classes at Michigan State University — which was about an hour away. I guess you could say by the time I graduated from college I was quite sure what I wanted to do!

3. Okay, let’s move on. In January of this year you published, “I’m Not Done,” a well-received book on ageism in the workplace. What compelled you to write the book?

I felt strongly that ageism in the workplace was a topic that needed to be raised and talked about.  It is often said that ageism is the last socially acceptable form of discrimination and I have definitely seen  — and even felt — plenty of it in my almost four decades in the business.  But as sure as I am that ageism in the business world is a problem, I am just as sure that much of the ageist things people say and do come from a place of unconscious bias, rather than an intention to inflect harm.  In many ways I am an eternal optimist, so I hoped that by writing my book I could both start and stoke a healthy discussion about ageism — something that has for too long been ignored.

4. In March, it was announced that you’ve been appointed head of client impact at ICF Next, a global marketing agency based in Chicago. Please describe your roll with the agency. How has your four-decade career prepared you for this position?

My role as Head of Client Impact (basically a Chief Client Officer) at ICF Next means that it is my job to make sure that all of our clients are getting our very best.  Our very best people, our best ideas, our best quality and our best service.  In order to be effective at doing that, I need to first make sure that our people have the resources and coaching that they need to be successful.  I also need to know what good work looks like so I can build the relationships with all of our specialist talent to ensure that we deliver amazing work to our clients every single time.  And finally, I think it is vital to being successful in this role that I know the world that the client lives in — and I do, because I’ve been one.  I think my four decades has completely prepared me for this role because I have both been a big client, and served big clients; and having worked on both the PR and advertising side of the business, I think I am well positioned to understand the new world of agencies — which is neither traditional PR nor traditional advertising.  I like to tell young people that they are entering this business at the perfect time — they will be able to help us figure out what we call this new genre of agencies!

5. We’ll finish on the lighter side. The image of you on your LinkedIn profile shows you in an exotic locale. (Santorini?) What’s your favorite travel destination and why?

That is like asking a parent to pick his or her favorite child!  I simply cannot do it. The picture was indeed of me in Santorini, and I joke that the beauty of that island makes everyone look like a movie star.  Santorini is both classically beautiful and thriving. This summer, I was in Vietnam and Cambodia with my son, and I cannot get the people of Cambodia out of my head or my heart.  Cambodia is the polar opposite of Santorini from an economic health standpoint, but I loved them both for different reasons.  But if you really must ask me to chose one — it has to be Glen Arbor, Michigan, which is, and has been, the gathering place for my family for almost 50 years.  It is where my stress melts away and my happy memories accumulate.

 

A Decade of The PRDude. Really

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

The question many — including myself — may ponder is this: Why continue to publish the PRDude blog, now in its tenth year?

After 10 years and 432 posts, I sometimes ask that question of myself.

A simple answer includes these components:

  • Because I can.
  • Because I enjoy it.
  • Because I still have something to say.

Want more? Here are some general thoughts.

If my day gets off to a rocky start, sometimes I revisit one of the more than 400 posts offered by the PRDude over the past 10 years.

What I’ve Learned: The public relations profession has evolved dramatically from a media relations-focused practice to one that incorporates integrated communications. The change was mostly driven by technology. That’s not a revolutionary observation, but one that should continue to remain at the forefront. That means there’s lots to comment on.

A Personal Perspective: I have remained steadfast and passionate about the value and practice of sound, ethical public practice.  That will never waiver. Publishing this blog provides a medium to defend instances where the profession is misrepresented, often equated with propaganda.

Favorite Posts: Don’t have kids, but we have cats. I love them both the same; and, I have the same perspective about the posts published here over the past decade. But this post from 2010 about my “alter ego” still resonates just a little more. More recently, I’ve enjoyed sharing thoughts on my pursuit of my Master’s degree in English.

What’s Needed:  I plan to (someday) finish adding categories to past posts.  And, I might consider changing the theme, or finding a way to monetize The PRDude blog. Hey, back in 2013 I made an offer to sell out! (I would still entertain reasonable offers.)

To conclude, I thank all who have read, commented and shared my thoughts these past 10 years. Stick around for the next 10.

A final thought: I had planned to publish this post yesterday, September 11, 2019.  We all know the significance of that date and what took place. Out of respect I held off.  But my thoughts on 9/11 can be found in this post from September 11, 2011 — 10 years after the terrorist attacks. I hope and pray I don’t have to write about those memories again.

“That’s Ireland,” The Nation in Images

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

Of course, you would expect images of the Emerald Isle to show lots of green. And, indeed, we saw many verdant places on our trip, from city parks to pastures to seaside cliffs.

In this “part two” post of our trip to Dublin and parts beyond, you’ll see lots of green; but you’ll also get a perspective on the culture of Ireland and its people. (Here’s the link to “part one,” which has some images but more insight.)

Below are images of places you’d expect — pubs, the coastline, castles — and places you might not expect — a notorious prison and the outside of a discount store. But collectively, they represent the Ireland we encountered over nine days travelling by foot, bus, train and streetcar.

On a walk to the DART Sandymount station, I noticed a plaque on this handsome home. Looking closer, I learned it’s the boyhood home of famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

The Clayton Ballsbridge Hotel, built as an orphanage in 1881, was our home base. Lots of character and history.

The Dublin Horse Show was attended by thousands over its four-day run. Even non-equestrians would have been impressed.

The history of Ireland has its dark, dark sides, too. Here’s the inside of the Kilmainham Gaol, a prison built in 1796. It housed men, women and even children over the centuries. Now it’s a museum, and U2 filmed a video there.

Of course, there are lots and lots of cool pubs in Dublin. And, like this one in Temple Bar, they’re easy to find. Not sure whether the guy at bottom left wanted to be in the frame.

 

 

 

 

Sincerely doubt this was named after me. And, we not stop in for a pint. Bet I would have been treated like royalty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seaside town of Howth had lots of waterfront to explore, a tremendous old church and castle and, of course, great pubs. But my favorite part was the cliffs.

 

 

 

 

Of course I had a pint of Guinness while in Ireland. The one depicted here was hoisted during an awesome lunch of seafood chowder and crab claws in Howth.

Yes, Ireland has some spectacular castles. This one is in Malahide, a charming town along the coast. As you can ascertain, this is a real castle.

Not to diminish this more modest structure we saw in Dalkey. It’s a castle, all right. But more of a “starter” castle.

One day, we visited Belfast in Northern Ireland, still part of the United Kingdom. Yes, they’re on the British pound. This retailer is akin to our Dollar General.

The Crown Liquor Saloon (or the Crown Bar) is a Belfast treasure and part of the National Trust. Susan would concur: You will not find a cooler drinking establishment anywhere.

Looking west on May Street, Belfast does exude its British heritage. Those towers sit atop City Hall, which has a museum devoted to the city’s artists and statesmen and women.

On our visit to Galway, we encountered outstanding buskers or street musicians, like this guy, in the Latin Quarter. Look close and you’ll find Chicago among the sister cities listed on the mural.

A stroll through Galway had its magical moments. And, a visit to a local pub seemed to enhance the experience. Hey, we were in Ireland!

Galway’s a coastal town along the Atlantic Ocean. Caught a glimpse of these vessels at low tide.

 

On our final day in Ireland, I found solace and solitude along this beach in Malahide. No surfers or sun bathers, just sky, water and sand.