“Build-A-Wall Burger” Fiasco Perhaps Opening Salvo on What’s to Come

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

Let’s face it: It’s challenging to keep up with national news today, even with the ability for anyone with new technology (think smart phone, tablet) or even old technology (television, radio) to absorb and comprehend what’s happening in this increasingly crazy world of 2017.

And, for this conversation, I’m referring to “real news,” not the so-called “fake news,” which I addressed in a post earlier this month, or the newfangled type of communication based on “alternative facts.

build-wall-burger

This image, courtesy of the Channel 7 online report, provides a graphic depiction of the menu item in question and written description of how patrons could order the now-gone “Build-A-Wall” burger.

Last week, while driving in my now vintage Toyota Camry, I head a report on the radio, a decidedly old form of communication, about a northwest suburban Chicago restaurant/night club that generated negative exposure by doing something totally uncalled for, insensitive and plain stupid.

And, you guessed it: The news was related to something happening that has an impact on our nation.

As detailed in this ABC Channel 7 television story, Durty Nellie’s in the Chicago suburbs of Palatine offered patrons the option to purchase a “Build-A-Wall Burger,” clearly a not-so-clever marketing initiative designed to play off the Trump administration’s proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Along with stacking 4 ounce hamburger patties, patrons could top off the sandwich with “some amazing Mexican ingredients!”

Really?

Not sure if this menu option — now dropped — was a hit with the folks who patronize Durty Nellie’s. I am sure that this calculated attempt to sell hamburgers through a correlation to an exceptionally polarizing international issue is representative of something wrong with society today: Take advantage of what makes headlines in order to make a profit, regardless of who might be affected.

My point here: If a modest, but quite successful local establishment (Durty Nellies has been in existence for several years according to my memory) made news with a lamebrained promotion, what kind of morally and politically incorrect messages can we expect in the future from other businesses across this great nation?

 

 

Donald Trump and Public Relations

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

Now that many people in this great nation have collectively has taken a deep breath, we can collectively accept the fact that Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States on November 8, 2016, in what will be remembered as one of the truly astonishing election upsets in the nation’s history.

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Credit: Photo was borrowed from the official website for the Trump campaign. This blog sincerely appreciates the opportunity to include this graphic in today’s post.

Still, many of us will find it hard — perhaps excruciatingly hard — to come to the realization of a Trump administration. But, the democratic process was followed, and Mr. Trump will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017.

Another thing is certain: Prognosticators, pundits and pollsters will grapple for the unforeseeable future about how candidate Trump, a political neophyte and billionaire businessman catapulted to stardom via reality television, beat an opponent with some 40 years of political savvy, including terms as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.

(Okay, we will not address the misgivings and faults regarding Hillary Clinton, perceived or substantiated, in this post as that subject is not germane to subject at hand.)

But here’s one theory I would like to quash and address right now: Mr. Trump did not win the presidency due to a masterful “public relations strategy,” as some in the media have asserted.

As stated in this September 2015 article published by Forbes, the author proclaims Mr. Trump’s campaign at the time had delivered “the proper public relations note” to reach its core audience. (For the record, I have no idea what defines a “public relations note.”)  And, others in public relations have contributed to the discussion by offering examples of the value behind some of Mr. Trump’s public relations tactics.

Hogwash, if you ask me. And, if I wanted to get into the gutter like so many these days, I would offer another descriptive term, one that rhymes with “dimwit.”

No, Mr. Trump and those within his campaign did not propagate sound, ethical public relations strategies or offer many — if any — viable tactics for those of us in the profession to absorb and use. The key reasons why:

  1. At times during the campaign and primary race, his rhetoric was based on fabricated facts.
  2. There was little to no effort to disclose where some of the information disseminated came from.

Want an example? Read this Chicago Tribune story from August of 2016 regarding a reported meeting by Mr. Trump with a “high ranking” Chicago police official. The topic was how the city can curtail violent crime in one week through tougher policing.

I do agree that Mr. Trump and his team did employ marketing strategies and tactics to leverage the brand he built through his real estate endeavors, television show and other business interests.  Well, perhaps Trump University should be kept off the list for now.

So how did Mr. Trump win?

That question will be debated for a long time, probably until the next presidential election; but Tuesday’s victory was not driven by public relations, at least not the public relations I practice.

Will 100 Million People Really Be Watching Tonight?

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

Another Monday night. But of course, not just any Monday night in America, or the world for that matter.

tn_combomag_header_logo-jpgYou know what I’m referring to: Tonight’s presidential debate, which the smart people who know lots more about elections and the media say will draw something like 100 million viewers.

All to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump communicating to the American people and the world why she or he should be voted into the most powerful job in the world.

By now, the smart people say, many voting Americans already have made up their respective minds on who they will vote for on November 8.

So, I must ask: Why watch the debate? We can learn the candidate’s positions by visiting their respective websites.  And, for your convenience, here they are:

As for the rationale behind why so many people will comprise this proposed Super Bowl-sized television audience?  I have two:

  • Crash and Burn. Those in strong opposition to either candidate want to “be there” when the opposition nominee says something stupid, loses their composure or gets caught in a lie. There’s something about seeing it all live.
  • Morbid Curiosity. Hey, let’s face it. This is reality TV without those good-looking castaways surviving on an island and lots of beer and automobile commercials. We HAVE to watch the debates for the entertainment value.

As for me, I’m not sure.  Heck, yes I’m going to watch the debates, which start in around 30 minutes.

But, if things get boring, I might just switch on the Cubs vs. Pirates game.

And you dear readers: Will you watch tonight’s debate? Why or why not?

 

One Image, One Question: August 9, 2016

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

Way back in August of 1979, a scion of one of the most powerful and successful political families of the 20th century demonstrated the need to be prepared when put on the stage in search of the highest office in the land.

The scion: Then U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, (D-Massachusetts), brother of a president and brother of senator who was running for president– both, as you know — assassinated.

Trump

Mr. Donald Trump, Republican candidate for president, do I have a question for you.

The situation: The Senator was being interviewed by CBS News reporter Roger Mudd on what should have been Kennedy’s chance to demonstrate why he deserved the Democratic nomination for president in the 1980 national elections. The interview took place in a safe and controlled environment: The Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port.

The question: “Why do you want to be president?”

The result: Senator Kennedy delivered a remarkably rambling, decidedly disconnected and certainly confusing response to Mudd’s simple question.

The outcome: Kennedy’s campaign was sunk. Sitting President Jimmy Carter was granted the Democratic nomination, but was trounced by Ronald Reagan.

(Read more from this online report, or view this video posted on YouTube.)

The relationship to the 2016 presidential race: Republican nominee Donald Trump, as you know, has been asked many questions since the campaign began last year, and unquestionably, he’s delivered some rambling, disconnected and confusing answers. But I’m not sure if Mr. Trump has been asked perhaps the most poignant question for any candidate running for president.

And, now for the question — pretty obvious I trust — and subject of today’s post:

Mr. Trump, why do you want to be president?

Throughout this often bizarre and contentious campaign, Mr. Trump has been asked a lot of questions, but I’ve not heard an interviewer pose the simple one above. Given his proclivity for bluster and bombast, I would guess Mr. Trump would not shrink and retreat in the manner as Senator Kennedy.

And, in the interest of fairness, I would pose the same question to Democrat Hillary Clinton. But I think we know what her answer would be.

 

 

Trump + Public Relations = Scandal?

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

When candidates for the Republican nomination for president were jockeying for position last summer, I asked a friend what advice would he give to then long-shot Donald Trump.

how-much-donald-trump-makes-in-speaking-fees-compared-to-everyone-else

Presidential candidate and reported publicist Donald Trump. Image source: Business Insider.

My friend, a very experienced and accomplished public relations strategist, said, as I recall: “If I were to offer Mr. Trump counsel, I would advise him to start speaking on the issues and address why he’s qualified to hold the office of president.”

In the 10-plus months since that conversation, Mr. Trump has, indeed, spoken about a lot of things. Some, okay many, would argue that he really hasn’t tackled critical issues facing the nation — the economy, immigration, terrorism threats come to mind — in light of the fact he sure knows how to talk and has done so voraciously.

And, as to why he should be president: The candidate flaunts his business acumen and success as a builder of buildings and creator of jobs.

Another skill required by presidents is to interact effectively with the media. According to a report last week, Mr. Trump has practiced this skill by returning a reporter’s call in 1991 under the guise of a Trump publicist named John Miller.  And, on other occasions, he was publicist John Barron.

As a public relations professional who has done his fair share of media relations, I offer Mr. Trump this advice: Please refrain from posing as a member of the public relations community.

Doing so is unethical because it violates many accepted values and provisions established by the Public Relations Society of America,  like honesty and open disclosure of information for starters. Plus, it takes away billable hours from a real public relations guy or gal!

In another era, the “Trump-posing-as-publicist” story might have ended the candidacy.  It would have been a scandal.

Today, it’s just another chapter it what is culminating in one of the most bizarre and “spirited” political campaigns in history.

Think I’ll reach out to my friend and ask what counsel he’d provide presumed Republican nominee Trump now.

 

Questions On the Eve of the Iowa Caucus 2016

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

Unless you’ve put away all electronic devices, tuned out conversation on politics and dropped off the face of modern reality in America today (to modify a counter culture phrase from a long time ago) you should be aware that the state of Iowa will hold its caucus tomorrow.

The prize, of course, is first bragging rights in the presidential elections in November.

Pundits and pollsters, people and political animals have stomped and shouted about the virtues and shortcomings of the many men and two women who are seeking the nod to represent their party for the highest office in the land.

Questions have been asked.

But not by me.

So here are three questions — all communications-based because that’s the focus of this blog after all — from the PRDude regarding the national election ahead.

Many people believe America always has been great. I would think a billionaire would agree.

Many people believe America always has been great. I would think a billionaire would agree.

1. The Trump Campaign Slogan. Donald Trump has stormed out of the gate — and continues to rank on top in Republican race — through barnstorming, bluster and bombast. (Won’t mention his casual use of facts, because that’s another story.)

The question: If Mr. Trump believes it’s time to “Make American Great Again!” wasn’t it great these past few decades when he made his fortune? He repeatedly points out that his bankroll is huge, perhaps due in part to our capitalism and economy. Also, one may argue that the nation was great from its founding days.

2. The Creative Use of Punctuation. A candidate needs to

Yes! Great idea!

Yes! Great idea! Who’s next? You never know; there’s still time in the campaign …

stand out from the pack in a crowded primary race. After all, this is an exercise in marketing.

The question: If Jeb Bush can incorporate an exclamation point after his first name — Jeb! — why don’t other candidates employ this simple tactic? Thought for sure someone would have locked in the hashtag (#), the percent sign (%) and for sure the dollar sign ($) by now.

Perhaps a better image would have shown the candidate seated at a desk talking on a land line.

Perhaps a better image would have shown the candidate seated at a desk, sans shades, talking on a land line.

3. Clinton Image with Cell Phone. During her years as Secretary of State, Democrat Hillary Clinton assuredly spent a lot of time sending and receiving email messages. And, as you may know, there was a controversy surrounding her use of a private email server for government-related correspondence.

The question: Given the dust up over the email issue, why is there an image of Mrs. Clinton on her official website holding a handheld and wearing dark glasses? Frankly, she looks kind of suspicious.

There are other similar questions that might surface between now and election day on November 8. What concerns do you have?