World Cup Soccer: Ways to Win New Fans

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

Unless someone proves me wrong, the quadrennial meeting of soccer — or if you prefer, football — teams from nations across the six  inhabited continents is the “biggest” sporting event in the world. Maybe the biggest event of any kind.

Think about it: the World Cup tournament lasts for weeks andWorld cup involves 32 teams from nations as big as the USA and Brazil to little nations like Ghana and Honduras.  The revenue estimates for the host nation is $11 billion, and TV viewership is massive, including here in the United States.

And, there are the fans, lots of fans, in fact.  Fans unlike those for any sport.  “Fan-natical fans.”

But in light of soccer/football’s global popularity, the sport has a ways to go in the United States.  Yes, thousands of passionate supporters (a lot of them a generation below us Baby Boomers) have flocked to bars, office break rooms or outdoor venues to cheer on Team USA.

1358878035-soccer-match-between-cfr-1907-cluj-and-ploiesti-match-in-cluj-napoca_1744201 Still, there’s a large contingent of American sports fans, me included, who think soccer is kickball played by adults — with fake injuries, strange rules and rulings and little to no scoring.  But The PRDude has suggestions to:

  • Grow awareness for the value of following professional soccer.
  • Increase acceptance of professional soccer as a sport worth watching.
  • Drive a generation of naysayers to support the sport.

And, they are:

Scoring: Perhaps the biggest gripe about soccer is that there’s too little scoring.  From what I understand, 2-1 is a high-scoring match.  The PRDude proposes upping the ante.  Yes, keep one goal for a “regular” goal that’s kicked by a striker. But how about 2 or even three “goals” for a header, perhaps the coolest play in soccer.  And, while we’re at it, assess a team a “negative 1 goal” if they fail to put a shot on goal, say every 5 minutes.  How hard could it be? The goals are 24 feet wide!

Fake injuries:  Players try to get away with pretending to be hurt by an opponent in every sport, soccer included. But during the times I’ve watched a match, the slightest bump with an opponent sends players withering in gut-wrenching pain.  A new rule needs to be initiated to address this on-field dishonesty.  My solution: Have the PA announcer bellow, “CHEEEEEEEEET-EEEEEER” (much the same way they describe a “GOOOOOOOOAL”) and require the offender to run backwards for the rest of the game. That will show these phonies.

belusa-650x429Penalties:  Fouls and misconduct are taken seriously in soccer, and there’s no question players break the rules and need to pay for their mistakest. But dispense with handing out yellow and red cards, banishing a player to the penalty box or granting a penalty kick.  Soccer should get tough and enforce serious and perhaps more creative penalties for certain infractions.  Some suggestions: Tie an offending player’s legs together, make him play blindfolded or replace his soccer cleats with stiletto heels.  These are crude, perhaps, but I trust entertaining.

By this time tomorrow, we’ll know if Team USA advances to the next round after its match with what I understand is a crafty Belgium squad.  Thousands of Chicago area fans will flood to Soldier Field to root on our soccer heroes.

Not me, unless of course, they change some of the rules.

 

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Chilling With PR Peers: Skyline Awards & DePaul Graduate Showcase

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

Last week culminated in two outstanding events that featured some of the smartest, most engaging and fascinating people I know (or got to know).  At both events, I refreshed relationships with old colleagues and nurtured relationships with new ones.

I’m referring, as you may ascertain, to gatherings of fellow public relations professionals.

The similarities continue.

Both were held in cool venues, both had excellent food and beverage and both reinforced to me something about public relations and those of us who are in this business.  Want to know more?

Here are capsulized reports.

PRSA Chicago 2014 Skyline Awards.

The evening of Tuesday June 10 was a rainy one in Chicago. But that didn’t damper the enthusiasm of the more than 250 attendees at this annual awards gala and dinner. From the Grand Army of the Republic hall at the historic Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago PR community met to recognize excellence, network and socialize. prsa chicago

My big takeaway: Collectively, PR professionals know how to work together and execute a tremendous event driven by volunteer time, energy and spirit.  (As a member of the PRSA Chicago Board, I played a small role in the event: I provided music for the Cocktail Hour.  No, not me on guitar and vocals, but cool modern and traditional jazz via CDs.)  A round of applause to all who made the evening a success, especially event co-chairs Lauren Brush and Sarah Siewert, who worked very hard and speaking of cool, were just that under pressure — even during those last minutes before the crowds arrived.

DePaul University Graduate e-Portfolio Showcase.

DePaulTwo days later, I was honored to attend the Graduate e-Portfolio Showcase sponsored by the DePaul University College of Communication.  Held on the rooftop deck of a vintage building that once housed a department store on State Street, the event provided an opportunity for 19 graduate students from the University’s Public Relations and Advertising program to present their creative work and projects in an informal setting to senior PR professionals.   For the record, I would have attended even if the agenda did not include hors d’oeuvres and an open bar because the invitation to participate came from Ron Culp, professional director of the program and a titan in Chicago’s public relations community.  (Full disclosure: Ron has re-posted a few PRDude blogs on his awesome Culpwrit blog, an outstanding resource for PR careers.)

My big takeaway: As a guest, I was invited to meet with the graduates and view their online portfolios. Clearly, by the talent and work presented, academic institutions are developing people who clearly are ready to lead the communications industry in the future.  I met with eight young professionals who demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities demanded to excel and sculpt communications programs in our digitally-driven world.  Frankly, I’m glad I won’t have to compete with these men and women in the future.  Wish I had time to meet them all.

Tomorr0w, I’ll join Chapter Board members for a rare afternoon meeting. APR 50thI’ll learn about how well the Chapter did financially from the Skyline Awards, hear reports from committees and provide an update on the training program I’m leading to help members earn the Accredited in Public Relations credential.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I really enjoy the public relations profession and the people who are part of it.

 

Okay Mr. Ricketts: I Want to Buy a Piece of the Chicago Cubs

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

News last week from the corner of Clark and Addison streets made big headlines here and across the nation.  Unfortunately, the headlines didn’t boast of a dramatic win by the team that plays baseball in the park at that fabled Chicago intersection.

416x31_partyofthecenturyThe news in question: The Ricketts Family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, are contemplating selling minority shares of the ball club.  The extra dollars, or hundreds of millions of dollars actually, would be earmarked for fixing up venerable Wrigley Field, now in its 100th year.

Note to company Chairman Tom Ricketts: Count The PRDude in on this deal. My confirmed contribution amount is below.

$5.

I know, that’s not much.  Won’t buy a beer at the ballpark, much less a CubsFrosty Malt if those delicious frozen confections are still sold by vendors.

But, I have added value as a minority investor: I am the PRDude after all and a well-known blogger; and I’m an Accredited public relations professional.

My skills as a seasoned communicator — and long-standing, long-suffering — Chicago Cubs fan most surely will come into value, if not this season then in the years to come.

Like all chronic Cubs fans, my century — make that millennium — would be made if the team won the World Series.  And, like all chronic Cubs fans, I’ll cheer and root through another disappointing season, which 2014 is turning out to be.

(As of this writing, the Cubs are in last place with a 2-5 record; but they are ahead of the Pirates at the moment.)

WrigleyShould the Ricketts family secure the funding they need to rebuild Wrigley, with my $5 included, I would be an ideal fan/investor/counselor to handle communications for the renovation work.  Most of my PR career was representing real estate concerns or associations, I’ve been to the park hundreds of times since the mid 1960s and I have handled a crisis or two.

For credibility, I’ll wear my vintage 1984 Cubs cap and APR  pin during gatherings with the media.  Could any big shot investor bring that kind of credibility?

So what do you say, Mr. Ricketts?  Do we have a deal?  Tell you what: I’ll up the ante to the amount below.

$10.

What else has the PRDude had to say about the Cubs?  Here are two posts.

A PR Game Plan from 2010 and a post from last year on a concerted “public relations push.

Perhaps Not as Historic as The Beatles’ 50th Anniversary …

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

appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” The PRDude is proud to announce that this marks the 200th post of this blog devoted to “The Lighter Side of Public Relations, Marketing & Communications (And Other Stuff).

Two hundredWhere to begin with some thoughts on this (seemingly) momentous occasion?

With Attributions. Many thanks to those who have taken the time to view my blog, which has acc0unted for 10,190 views as of today and 254 comments.  And, of course, a big shout out to the nice people at WordPress (whom I’ve never met) but provide this way cool open source platform.

On to Highlights. As a world-famous — at least in my own mind — Cutthroat twoblogger, I think every post is special.  But some are “more special” than others, most notably these two from 2013:  The July 13 post announcing my awesome new job (most single day visits at 115), and this one where I bashed the forthcoming “Cutthroat Kitchen” TV show, (585 views and counting.)

And, Some Favorites.  This blog was started way back in 2009, but I’ll share some recent posts that still catch my fancy.

In 2013,  I continued with an ongoing series of Q and A posts from friends and leaders from public relations and the communications industry:  Thoughts from a friend and colleague who transitioned from PR to real estate sales, insight from a leading expert on communicating to the Hispanic market, and the career and business perspectives of a successful independent PR pro.

The puzzle illustration of PR.

The puzzle illustration of PR.

And, I am fond of this February 2013 post on how PR can be employed to address falling space rocks, a June post on life values I learned by watching the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, and a December blog inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang.

Clearly, I don’t always blog about public relations, marketing or communications.  “Other stuff” can certainly be intriguing.

Nice round numbers — like 50 and 200 — offer natural reasons to reflect and analyze.  And, I could go further, but I’ll wait until the next milestone.

Lots of analysis preceded The Beatles’ half-century anniversary appearance on American television, and deservedly so.  One could say the lads from Liverpool most assuredly got “some good PR.”

A Resolution for 2014: One More Great Thing

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

At dinner one Saturday earlier this month, a friend talked of plans for the future.  She’s contemplating closing the successful, boutique public relations firm she founded decades ago and relocating within the next few years to someplace warmer and much different than Chicago.

images

What one great thing will you try to accomplish in 2014? Or, perhaps you’ll take on more than one?

The place she has in mind is an historic colonial town in Mexico located far from the tourist trail and populated by a healthy number of ex-patriot American artists.   (And, it’s probably a lot warmer than Chicago, where it’s 7 degrees as I write this.)

There, she would pursue her passion for painting abstracts and landscapes.

“I want to do one more great thing with my life,” our friend said.  One more great thing is a very achievable goal for a highly respected public relations professional, great business woman and very accomplished visual artist.  And, there’s not a doubt that our friend will accomplish this and other great things in her life — whether here, in Mexico or someplace else.

Future

Your future is in that direction. Set a goal, follow it and accomplish one great thing.

As the minutes of 2013 tick away, I’m inspired to look back on some noteworthy accomplishments and set sights on great things I plan to pursue.  First, here are four fairly great things I accomplished:

1. Landed a terrific new career in the academic arena.

2. Gained a renewed interest in exercise; I’ve been running regularly since summer.

3. Maintained a robust publishing schedule for The PRDude blog; today’s final post of 2013 marks 48 for the year.

4. And, as you might expect, demonstrated my continued passion for public relations and the Accredited in Public Relations credential.  I attended my first PRSA National Assembly and will again help members of PRSA Chicago interested in earning the APR credential.

As for 2014, I plan to begin earning my Master’s degree in English. That one great thing will take a few years, but it’s achievable.

What direction will your future take?  Pursue one great thing in 2014 and find out.

How Would My Old Mustang Rate Against the 50th Anniversary Model?

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

A few months after graduating from Illinois State University, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life: The purchase of my first car.

Short on cash — well, more accurately, being a few dollars away from penniless and living with my parents — I fully realized my budget would only allow for the acquisition of a modest vehicle.  Very modest, as a matter of fact, since my weekly salary at the City News Bureau of Chicago (my first real post graduate job) was just $100 per week.

After a few months of commuting solely by public transit, I made the plunge in mid 1977 and purchased a yellow 1967 Ford Mustang from a guy in the old 64BRCH00_smallneighborhood. The price: $200.

It had some rust, the radio didn’t work, the tires were mismatched and it burned oil — lots of oil.  But it was mine, and after a rebuilt starter, some new used tires and an oil change, it ran fairly well, getting me to and from news assignments, visits to ISU and back home for more than a year.  I have no recall as to the number of miles the vehicle had.

Built to be an affordable sports coupe, the Mustang was a phenomenal success, selling more than 400,00 units in its first year.  It had a long, sloping hood, bucket seats, a floor shifter and a pretty spirited V-6 engine; it was  affordable and sexy, even for a poor young reporter.  My old ’67 gave me mobility, and in retrospect let me partake in history in some small way.  I drove it — rust, bad tires and no radio — for around a year, before I sold it to another guy in the old neighborhood for $100.

The 2015 Ford Mustang: Still sleek and sexy after all these years.

The 2015 Ford Mustang: Still sleek and sexy after all these years.

On December 5, Ford debuted the latest version of the so-called “pony” car, which now in its 50th year, can truly be called an American icon.

The new red  model in the picture here certainly has the same lines as my ’67 and still features the galloping mustang logo, still one of the coolest and most recognizable ever for car.

Don’t think my Mustang would be able to keep pace with this modern beauty, which might have the optional 5.0-liter V8, 420 horsepower engine.  Still, if you offered me the keys to one or the other, I probably would pick my old ’67.

There’s something about your first that sticks with you a long time. What was your first car?

The PRDude’s Day as Delegate at PRSA 2013 Conference

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

PHILADELPHIA — It’s certainly appropriate that this post is being published here in the city known for being the place where our founding fathers set the wheels of democracy into motion.  (As well as the place where you can get a real cheese steak sandwich.)

Why you may ask?  Well, because The PRDude — actually Edward M. Bury, APR — served the Chicago Chapter of the Public ??????????Relations Society as a delegate at the 2013 PRSA Leadership Assembly.  On Saturday, October 26, PRSA leaders from across the nation gathered to conduct the Society’s business and recognize accomplishments.

My delegate responsibilities included voting on two Bylaws Amendments and the Nominating Committee Report.  While important to the Society, I believe readers will take more interest in the following:

PRSA One compOne PRSA. In his report on the State of the Society, Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, shared many positive thoughts about the profession, PRSA, the APR credential and other topics under the One PRSA banner.   My big takeaway: The Society has returned to 2007 membership numbers.

Bottom Line.  The Society is on sound financial footing, despite the still struggling economy, a mammoth force of nature and literally having the ceiling cave in.  Those were some thoughts from President and COO Bill Murray, CAE.  Some insight on the last two topics: The PRSA office in downtown Manhattan was out of commission for several days following Super Storm Sandy, and a water pipe rupture caused a ceiling to collapse and a minor flood of PRSA offices.  My big takeaway: Leadership and staff were well-prepared for challenges, responded promptly and demonstrated strong commitment to PRSA and the profession.

Fearless Future. Following the 10 a.m. break, Chair-Elect Joe Cohen, APR, trumpeted the theme of a “Fearless Future” for the profession as the guiding force behind the Strategic Plan 2014-16.  Public relations must embrace change and “adapt, evolve or risk irrelevance,” he said. Elizabeth A. Pesci, APR, Fellow PRSA noted that an improving business climate will lead to opportunities for practitioners.  My big takeaway: Thoughts I wholeheartedly subscribe to. APR_logo

Fixing APR. A report from consultant Laura Freebairn-Smith, Ph.D. of the Organizational Performance Group on a study regarding the Accredited in Public Relations credential especially hit home, given my passion for the credential, years spent on the Universal Accreditation Board and work with PRSA Chicago to help others earn Accreditation.  “Not a pretty picture solution,” was Dr. Freenbairn-Smith’s overall assessment of Accreditation, which as declined in terms of numbers, interest and respect.   My big takeaway: Thrilled that a sound assessment will guide what hopefully be a renaissance for the APR.

Lots of other stuff took place during the Assembly, but I’ll stop for now.

My final takeaway from my participation as a delegate: A lot of smart, successful professionals are working hard and allocating time and resources to guide the Society forward and improve the public relations profession. My role as a delegate hopefully a small difference.  What about you? What are you doing to “Advance the Profession, and the Professional?”