(We All Should Wake Up) When September Ends and …

By Edward M. Bury, APR aka The PRDude

educate ourselves on which candidates to vote for in the November 6 election — surely one of the most significant of our life time.

Before I get into the real content of this post, let me assure you — my loyal readers — that I will refrain for a while from naming posts after popular songs.  This one is inspired in name only by a great song from American Idiot, Green Day’s rock opera from 2004.  Recently, I’ve borrowed songs made famous by U2 and a gem sung by the “countrypolitan” genius of Glen Campbell.

I’ll stop.  For a while.  Onto the serious stuff.

On this last day of September, every American who is eligible to vote — as well as every American of sound mind and possessing a conscious — needs to commit to making a difference in shaping the national agenda in the weeks to come.  I assure you, it won’t take all that much time; yes, you’ll have plenty of time to watch football, rake leaves and accomplish all the regular stuff done in fall.

Here’s how:

Visit both.  Read and absorb where the candidates stand (at least as of  today) on key issues facing our nation.  Determine what will drive your decision on November 6.  It could be energy or education, taxes or overseas trade policies.  Everyone’s concerned and immediately impacted by jobs, the economy and healthcare, so make sure you know where the candidate’s stand on these three issues.

Talk to friends and family about the upcoming elections and the discuss the background, records, history and accomplishments of the two men running for President of the United States.  Listen to those who have differing opinions.

Pay some attention to the professional pundits, the vast majority who are clearly partisan red or partisan blue. And, it’s probably best to hit the remote button when a television ad — and there will be lots and lots of them — bashes one guy but fails to offer anything positive about their guy. Understand that political campaigns do incorporate “public relations” in crafting communications strategies and tactics, but attack ads don’t qualify as effective public relations.  I’m sure there are a lot of people who’ll debate me on the this contention.

Watch the televised presidential and vice presidential debates.  The first one is Wednesday, October 4.  Fact: There’s a body called the Commission on Presidential Debates that organizes these things.  Read your local newspaper and visit politically-oriented websites and blogs for their opinions on the candidates.

Take this new-found insight, make a decision and please vote November 6.

Employ the above to also become familiar with the congressional and other elections in your state, county and municipality.  Google will help you find local election information.

The Green Day song that inspired the title to this post was part of a body of songs that based on a period in the life of an anti-hero named Jesus of Suburbia. Critics, of course, have dissected the meaning of the work, and like all good art it’s open to interpretation.

The same goes for what you’ll learn about candidates running for office this fall: Everything is open to interpretation. So wake up, because September ends in just a few hours.

A Blog Post on Blago(jevich)

The former governor of my home state of Illinois has uttered some questionable statements since being led by federal marshals from his home in handcuffs in December 2008. Then, he recently told Esquire magazine he was “blacker than Barack Obama,” reportedly because he grew up in a five-room apartment in a tough neighborhood of Chicago.

For the record: I grew up in a five-room apartment in a much, much tougher neighborhood of Chicago.  Much tougher.

The news of Rod Blagojevich’s magazine comments hit the news over the weekend, prompting the former elected official to apologize.  Quote:  “What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid.” Well, I agree with him on one thing.

But this is a blog on public relations.  While reading the news report on Mr. Blagojevich’s comments in today’s Chicago Tribune, I was struck by reference to, well, public relations.

The article states the piece in Esquire “represents a wasted opportunity for the ex-governor to proclaim his innocence, but his public-relations strategy focuses on more than just clearing his name.” Elsewhere in the piece, the reporters refer to Mr. Blagojevich’s “PR strategy” and “publicity team.”

“Public-relations strategy?” (The hyphens are the Tribune‘s.)

Perhaps I’m riding too high a horse at the moment, but I really don’t think Mr. Blagojevich or his “publicity team” has crafted what I maintain is a concerted public relations campaign.  You know, one based on goals, strategies and objectives and driven by tactics.

One could make a counter point that the ex-governor, indeed is using public relations tactics as a way to build awareness for his innocence and pending federal trial.  In case you missed it, he’s charged with a lot of serious stuff, including allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat held by the guy he stupidly said he was “blacker” than, Barack Obama.

My counter punch: I maintain a true public relations strategy should have some redeeming social value.  What the ex-governor is trying to do, I think, is create a high public profile to sour the jury pool when his trial begins.  It’s not public relations.

The Tribune piece is just an example of how public relations gets thrown into the discussion for all the wrong reasons.  It also means those of us who practice public relations need to do a better job promoting our profession.