All Public Relations Professionals Should Read This Post

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

Have plans for this weekend? Want something fascinating — but sobering — to read?

Let me suggest the 2019 IPR Disinformation in Society Report.  

Image courtesy of the Institute for Public Relations.

Certainly, this study, published by the Institute for Public Relations, is not a traditional page-turner or as compelling as a work of fiction or a celebrity biography.  But, if you’re a public relations professional, or if you care about the state and direction of modern American society, you should allocate time to read this provocative document.

Full disclosure: I have not read the full Report, but I will.  I did read the nine key findings presented and gained validation from some for what I have perceived to be significant problems today: Misinformation is detrimental to the nation; President Donald Trump is the leading proponent of spreading lies; false social media are the prime culprits for erroneous communication.

But I did advance personal understanding in a few other areas: A high percentage of Americans seek out other sources to confirm truth and accuracy; and family, cohorts and friends are the most trusted sources of information.

The Public Relations Society of America, of which I am a long-standing member, acknowledged the IRP report in this statement.  I wholeheartedly concur with PRSA. Dissemination of accurate and truthful information is the foundation of modern public relations, and it’s the ethical responsibility of PRSA members to adhere to this practice.

In this space, I’ve addressed disinformation/misinformation/false truth/lies/fabrication/fake news (or what ever term is appropriate or popular) frequently. Regarding President Trump, I’ve addressed his penchant for lying and fabricating facts and beliefs in a post published in May of 2016 and in another post published two days after his November 2016 election victory.

Want to gain a better perspective? The Washington Post maintains this database of “false or misleading” claims made by the President.

Back to the IPR report. The study does not offer solutions on how to end or even curtail the unfettered propagation of false information. But it keeps the conversation alive and at the forefront of conversation today.

That’s where it should be.

 

 

 

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“And Who’s Gonna Pay For It?”

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

“And who’s gonna pay for it?”

That rhetorical question helped define the 2016 presidential election.  As often uttered by then candidate Donald Trump, the throngs at his rallies shouted in unison: “Mexico!”

This overflowing trash can embodies much of the impact felt by the current government shutdown. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

Well, as it turned out, our neighbors to the south have no intention of ponying up the estimated $5 billion to pay for the subject of that question — a wall designed to halt illegal entrance to the United States, curb criminal activity and eradicate the import of narcotics.

Today, the 2018 government shutdown driven by now President Trump’s refusal to sign a spending package needed to fund many federal departments and agencies enters its fifth day.  And, there’s no projected end in sight.

The issue behind the shutdown, of course, centers on the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for — a flimsy campaign promise unsubstantiated by any facts or agreements.

But the compelling question has prompted me to ponder the following:

  • Who’s gonna pay for the damaged lives that assuredly will follow should this impasse drag on for days and days? As noted in this report from Time magazine, furloughed federal workers don’t know how they’ll pay rent, medical bills and car payments.
  • Who’s gonna pay to restore the pride and dignity of members of the federal workforce who are on furlough? Those sent home may now view their once stable jobs with tremendous uncertainty. Will they seek new opportunities?
  • Who’s gonna pay to rebuild the nation’s standing on the world stage if the shutdown continues well into the new year? To our allies and adversaries, the United States is a nation divided.
  • Who’s gonna pay for the shattered vacation plans made by travelers who planned to visit national parks and monuments, now closed because of the government shutdown?

Yes, there certainly are many, many other “who’s gonna pay” type of questions that can be pondered.

One answer to them all: It ain’t gonna be Mexico.

If Michael Cohen Practices PR, Can I Practice Law?

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

Well, it was about time, and frankly, I’m not surprised.

President Donald Trump spoke to Fox News from the White House.

The issue? The proclamation yesterday by President Donald Trump that Michael Cohen, his former attorney, actually spent more billable hours practicing strategic communications than law.

So, again, the practice of public relations gets communicated as a non-sequitur, again gets tossed into the national spotlight, again gets misrepresented — this time during a televised conversation with the President of the United States, who actually was doing his best to distance himself from his long-time attorney.

Yes, the President made that statement in an interview Thursday with Fox News broadcaster Harris Faulkner. It comes up early in the conversation, shortly after Faulkner raised a question about the President’s professional relationship with Cohen — who as you may know, was sentenced Wednesday to 36 months in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance laws.

Here’s the full statement by the President:

“He did very low-level work. He did more public relations than he did law. You would see him on television, and he was OK on television.”

Yes, participating in media interviews can be part of a public relations program, but I really don’t think that’s what the President intended.

A quick check of Cohen’s background reveals lots of work as a barrister, businessman and so-called “fixer,” but I could not find any references to his “public relations” capabilities.

In researching this post, I had hoped to find other public relations professionals concerned about the President’s Thursday comment and misrepresentation of the profession, but none surfaced.

Yet.

I did find this CNN report on the “29 most surreal lines” uttered by the President in the Fox News Faulkner interview.  You guessed it: There was no specific reference to the Cohen practicing public relations comment.

Sigh.

 

 

 

 

Merkel vs. Trump at G7: How One Image Can Distort the Bigger Picture

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

Checking my Twitter feed this gloomy, rainy morning in Chicago, and the image noted below grabbed my attention.

Well, obviously.

And, as you would expect, this image has been viewed, discussed, tweeted and re-tweeted who knows how many millions of times in the hours since it surfaced last night. Without question, the image and the global scenario behind it will continue to inspire commentary for a few days and provide fodder for political and entertainment commentators.

Predictably, this image from the G7 Summit has sparked lots of commentary, from serious to humorous. What’s yours?

You know who the key people are — world leaders at the G7 Summit in Quebec.  So, I won’t bother to identify them.

But as noted in this report from The Hill, the so-called Twittersphere has captured some of the witticisms communicated by those amused, enraptured, bewildered or enthused by this single image, shared on Instagram by the woman in the light blue jacket who’s postured somewhat defiantly while being surrounded by men.

(If we did not know the subjects in the photo, it’s still a rather compelling image, I think.)

What’s underscored, however: A provocative image like this one — distributed instantly and available to billions around the world — has the ability to inform and inspire relevant debate, yet it also has the ability to deflate and discount the importance of the subject.

How many who view the G7 Summit image will remember it primarily for its immediate initial “shock value,” showing obvious disharmony among two world leaders, rather than the more serious, long-term ramifications of economic discord among the United States and its strongest allies, including our neighbor to the north?

Within the next few minutes, I’ll click on the “publish” button to share this post with the world.  On the other side of the world, two leaders will meet Tuesday at what assuredly will be another monumental summit gathering, but with much higher stakes — demilitarizing a part of the world that has been technically at war for some 70 years.

Yes, there will be attention-grabbing images from the meetings in Singapore shared early and often. Hopefully, the true substance of the outcome will transcend the short-term impact derived from a single static depiction of just one occurrence that took place.

“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?

 

 

January 20 Means More Than Inauguration Day to Me

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

Yes, today the 45th President of the United States became “official” during a ceremony in the nation’s capital.  And, no, I did not attend, and I did not watch the event on television.

Will American give the new President a thumbs up during his administration? Photo courtesy of Newser.

Will American give the new President a thumbs up during his administration? Photo courtesy of Newser.

Like the vast majority of Americans, I was at work. And, unlike many Americans and people around the world, I will not join in protests — organized or spontaneous.

Today, January 20, is the day a new president is inaugurated. (Unless of course, January 20 falls on a Sunday; then Inauguration Day is January 21.)

But today also is my late father’s birthday.  Thaddeus C. Bury, who I remembered in this 2015 Father’s Day post, would have been 101 years old today! And, yes, I guess that makes me sort of “old.”

Given the unrest and controversy today’s inauguration of Donald J. Trump has caused, I have to wonder what Ted (what most people called him) would have thought about the new president and his agenda to “Make American Great Again.”

My father was part of the so called Greatest Generation, meaning he had to make a living during the Depression, served in and endured a world war, returned home and helped build the America I grew up in. Have to believe America was really great for a while, thanks in part to people like my father, and still pretty darn great today.

I’ll save any future comments and observations on Mr. Trump — who I did not vote for — for future posts. I’ll give Mr. Trump and his administration the opportunity to put his agenda into action.  He won, he deserves that opportunity.

On Inaugural Day 2017, the same day as his birthday, I think Ted would have had the same perspective. But, like me, I think my Dad would have been — to phrase a mixed metaphor of sorts — somewhat judicious with the measuring tape.

One somewhat related thought: Today, I ran into a young lady, a student at the university where I work.  I’ve known her for around a year.

She wears a headscarf, and she always has a smile. In my eyes, she is among what makes America great today. If the new President reads this, I hope he’ll accept and recognize that.