Results of Straw Poll on PR, My Turn and More

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

The results are in from last week’s “straw poll” on pressing issues facing public relations.

Straw Poll

If you vote in my straw poll, I promise to recycle the straws shown. Promise.

Sincere thanks to all — well both — loyal readers who cast votes in my simple barometer attempt on the state of the profession.  And, now for the results to the four questions posed:

  1. Better integration with other disciplines: 1 vote
  2. Improved/enhanced measurement: 1 vote
  3. Need for greater transparency: No votes
  4. Managing crisis in a digital world: No votes
  5. Other: No votes

Is my spirit broken at the poor results? Not at all.  Did I expect a huge response? Not really.

I understand that people are busy, and my little poll faces a lot of competition for attention and interest. But if you’d still like to cast a vote, the poll remains open:

(By the way, hundreds of public relations professionals met in Atlanta this month to learn and share ideas. Visit the PRSA website and scroll to the “What’s New” section at left to read reports from the 2015 national conference on presentations from industry thought leaders.)

Now, on to the topic I maintain is the most pressing and compelling issue before the public relations profession: The need for those of us in public relations to do a better job of defining the practice — what constitutes public relations and what does not.

A case in point happened Friday while I watched the local morning news. A history professor from a prestigious Chicago university was commenting on the murderous actions of the Islamic State, including the quality and effectiveness of videos and social media tactics used to recruit and spread  its warped message of hate and terror.

The professor ended the segment by stating that the group also known as ISIS has developed “a very good public relations department.”

No, no, no!

This type of communications has nothing to do with modern public relations.

This type of communications has nothing to do with modern public relations.

Professor, it’s called “propaganda.” What ISIS and other terrorist groups employ to communicate is diametrically the opposite of modern public relations, which is based on transparency, open disclosure and safeguarding confidences and rooted in doing something positive for society.

It’s this misconception of the practice of ethical, effective public relations that needs to be addressed by those of us in the  profession. We should not let this continue unabated. Given the horrific attacks in Paris last week, we can anticipate that there will be continued discussion regarding the videos, tweets and posts that originate from terrorist cells around the world. As a profession, public relations professionals should actively address situations such as the one mentioned above and offer clarification. Let’s collectively do what we do best: Communicate the truth.

To those practitioners who question the validity of my thoughts or wonder whether these suggestions have merit, let me offer this final thought: Do you want the communications work you conduct for clients to be equated with the type of communications presented by terrorists? I trust not.


More Madness in the World Today Than the Paris Massacre

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

Eight days into the new year, and I was struggling with a topic for the first post of 2015.  Then I woke up to read the report in the Chicago Tribune about the terrorist attack at a Paris magazine office that left 12 people dead — magazine staff and two police officers.

The current web site masthead of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The current web site masthead of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The front-page report described a “military-style, methodical killing” at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a periodical that satirized politics, culture and religion.  It was the latter — commentary and cartoons on the Muslim faith — that apparently drove three men to madness.

The Tribune featured two photos that summed up the “before” and “after” of this tragedy: A gathering of Parisians mourning the brutal attack, and a still photo of footage of the alleged murderers, brandishing rifles as they fled in a black sedan.

As I leafed through the Tribune Section 1, the main news content, I found another story — a report of an even more gruesome and deadly act. On page 11, I read a report of how a vehicle loaded with bombs was detonated near a police academy in the city of Sanaa, Yemen.

The story said the bomb killed “at least 35 people, injuring dozens of

Sanaa, Yemen.

Sanaa, Yemen.

others and leaving a trial of mangled bodies and twisted wreckage.” The accompanying image shows an obviously distraught man near the scene, his hand to his head, flanked by two nearby authorities.

The similarities:

  • Both mass murders reportedly were the result of Muslim extremists.
  • Both were planned executions.
  • Both took place in capital cities.

The differences:

  • One took place in one of the great capitals of the Western world.
  • One took place in an ancient city on the Arabian peninsula.

The question I have is why does the murder of a dozen people in Paris “rank,” at least in terms of news coverage, above the murder and maiming of 35 people in Sanaa?