Could It Really Be 40 Years?

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

That’s not a misprint.

Yes, I’ve been part of the communications industry in Chicago for 40 years this month.

I’ll spare the melancholy and pathos about “where did all the time go?” Like everyone on this earth, I live and breathe 24 hours each day, arguably some days spent more productively than others.

So where did it all begin?

city-news-bureauIf memory serves me correctly, on one day in late February of 1977 I reported to the City News Bureau of Chicago for my first day as a reporter. The job meant covering homicides, assaults, thefts, fires and other bad stuff taking place in the city back then. Unfortunately, lots of bad stuff continues to happen here.

It was my first job after graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in English and minor in Journalism. I wanted to be a reporter — and now I was a reporter!

Couldn't find an image from 1977, so this one, taken last year, will have to suffice.

Couldn’t find an image from 1977, so this one, taken last year, will have to suffice.

My first day, I recall, was spent with a more seasoned journalist at the old 18th District Chicago Police Department station on West Chicago Avenue, where we followed up on pending investigations. We also did some reporting related to the aftermath of the horrible CTA elevated train wreck that took place February 4 of that year; 11 people were killed.

In the 14,600 days (give or take a few) since my introduction to the real world I’ve held a few other positions; well, actually quite a few other positions.

I left journalism in the early 1980s to pursue an in-house communications position with a community college, my first exposure to the public relations arena. Although I consider myself a newsman at heart and relished those opportunities to cover a breaking story, my path for the remainder of my professional career has centered on public relations.

And that’s where it will stay.

But perhaps not for another 40 years.

“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?

 

 

If It’s “Fake” It’s Not “News”

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

Let’s start with this assertion: The concept of erroneous or inaccurate information shared for public consumption — most recently given the title “fake news” — has been around for a long, long time.

We can expect the "fake news" invasion to continue for a long, long time. Image source: Snopes.

We can expect the “fake news” invasion to continue for a long, long time. Image source: Snopes.com.

Possibly as long as human beings began communicating. That’s because so-called “fake news” also can be construed as “telling a lie,” and there’s no question men and women have told lies for a long, long time.

Only, in this era of instantaneous digital communications that can originate from virtually anyone or any organization with a broadband connection, fabricated messages void of truth can prove very harmful for society. At least society as we know it today.

Come on! Did you really believe that Pope Francis threw his support toward Donald Trump? Photo courtesy of GazetteReview.com.

Come on! Did you really believe that Pope Francis threw his support toward Donald Trump? Image source:  GazetteReview.com.

This was made especially clear in the months leading to the 2016 national elections, when seemingly bizarre stories — Pope Francis throwing support to Donald Trump — surfaced, were propagated and believed by many.  One can ascertain that more “news” of this type will surface in the future.

So, in the debut post of 2017, the PRDude offers this manifesto of sorts to members of the media, fellow public relations professionals and anyone who will listen:

Stop referring to lies, misinformation, fabricated facts and erroneous online content and messages as “fake news.”

As I, and assuredly millions of others maintain, what makes “news” and defines newsworthiness  is based on factual occurrences, trends or developments that meet certain criteria, including:  What took place, where it took place, who or what was involved and what was compelling or interesting.

If a report is based upon “fake” information, it is not “news.”

There. I feel better. And, that’s the truth.

 

New Year, Same PRDude, Still Public Relations

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

Leave the resolutions and predictions to the other bloggers, prognosticators and pundits.

2016On this first post for 2016, I’ve decided to dispense with the expected “forecast” post. You can google to find out what other public relations professionals think will be the top stories or developments for the balance of the year.

I’m going to continue to publish posts that:

  • Support effective, ethical public relations practices.
  • Challenge those in the media and elsewhere who equate public relations with unfortunate business decisions or propaganda.
  • Seek insight from public relations leaders.
  • Focus on news related to jobs and the employment market.
  • Address news taking place in and around Chicago.
  • Chronicle my (relatively limited, but hopefully increasing) travels to interesting places close and far.
  • And of course, comment on lots of “other stuff” that sparks my interest.

Too often, commentators — in the media, public relations and certainly many other professions — get trapped in a cycle of predictability.

You know how it goes: Start the new year with thoughts on what’s ahead, end the year with “best of” reports.

We know that politics will continue to drive the 2016 news cycle because we’re in a presidential election year. We know that terrorist organizations will continue to slaughter, spread havoc and incorporate sophisticated social media tactics to spread propaganda. We know technology will continue to evolve and greatly impact our lives and the world around us.

So, I’ll dispense with trying to share projections and stick to what’s gotten me this far since the fall of 2009.

I’ll comment on what takes place now.