Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day: A Perspective on the Irish Academy of Public Relations

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

On this day before the “official” St. Patrick’s Day — that is March 17 — much of the nation, including Chicago, equates the holiday to all the things one would expect: Parades, lots of people wearing green, performances by Celtic step dance troupes, and of course, consuming malt beverages at pubs with Irish-sounding names, as well as at those without.

Here in Chicago, the popular downtown parade is always held the Saturday before the real St. Patrick’s Day, and the one held March 11 drew thousands along the route in Grant Park; and, yes, the City poured green dye into the Chicago River to turn an already greenish body of water emerald.

Logo courtesy of Irish Academy of Public Relations web site.

But I’m re-purposing St. Patrick’s Day for another reason; and it doesn’t involve anything green. I’m inspired by the holiday to learn more about something else that comes from Ireland.

The Irish Academy of Public Relations is a company based in — you guessed it: Dublin, but there’s a New York office, too — that offers online courses in public relations, media, events planning and broadcasting.

For the past few years, I’ve received email messages promoting the various diploma and certificate program

“Green River” image courtesy of Choose Chicago web site.

s and other courses. So, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to investigate a little further. Of course, the Diploma in Public Relations was of most interest.  It’s comprised of 11 modules on topics like the history of public relations, drafting “press and media releases,” managing events and sponsorship opportunities, working with photographers and more. There’s even a module on crisis management.

Based on just a cursory evaluation of the Academy and the Diploma program, I must conclude that this kind of education has some merit and value today. (Hey, the IAPR must be doing something right because they’ve been in existence for 24 years.)

If the folks at IAPR read this, I strongly suggest that the PR course be expanded to include modules on digital communications, ethics and the business aspect of public relations; but overall the knowledge shared here is fundamentally sound.

Given how public relations is so often misaligned and misunderstood in society today, perhaps certificate programs can provide the first step toward a university course of study and eventually programs like the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential.

(Yes, I’m guilty of shameless, self-absorbed promotion of Accreditation. So what: It’s my blog.)

What’s your perspective on programs like the one just referenced? Share your thoughts here, or let me know if you want to meet at an Irish pub and discuss over a beer.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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Footnote: Back in 2012, the PRDude offered some other thoughts inspired by St. Patrick’s Day.

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Why I’m Feeling Blue, Not Green. A Post St. Patrick’s Day Post

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

As I write this post, the day after the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day “holiday,” I have a profound sense of a color besides Kelly green.  I’m blue.

Blue because the world as I see it is spinning on its axis in the wrong direction.  Leaning too far to the left (or right), and not from a political perspective.   Drowning in a sea of conformity and acceptance.  Okay. Enough with the purposeful metaphors.

Here in my hometown of Chicago and elsewhere, the multitudes “celebrated” St. Patrick’s Day, reportedly a day to honor the patron saint of Ireland, the guy who according to legend drove out the snakes a long time ago.  I trust the snakes all drowned because Ireland is an island.

Here we dye the Chicago River a rich green and thousands — reportedly tens of thousands yesterday — line the streets downtown for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  And why not? We’ve had a long line of Irish mayors (Daley the First, and Daley the Second, most notably),  global business interests with Gaelic names (Aon Insurance — “aon” means “oneness” and it was founded by a guy named Patrick Ryan) and plenty of pubs and restaurants named after Irishmen and women — real and imaginary.

So why have I not embraced the “greenness” of St. Patrick’s Day here in mid-March?  Here’s why:

1. The Commercialization of the Holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has basically lost any of its cultural heritage or significance.  When was the last time you read about this guy from Ireland who chased out the snakes?  Or about any of the leaders of the struggle for Irish independence?  No, St. Patrick’s Day is mainly about drinking, using the holiday to hawk products or services and wearing something green.   Note the graphic below for an example.

The PRDude does not have reservations about any of these.  Hey, I’m in public relations and marketing — communications disciplines that build relationships and promote things and services we need and buy. But this development is indicative of the way holidays have been denigrated into efforts to basically sell beer and trinkets.  Think about it.  We use dancing cartoons of Lincoln and Washington to sell mattresses; the Easter Bunny hawks chocolate eggs; Halloween has “evolved” from an opportunity for kids to collect candy from neighbors into a platform for adults to dress like zombies or the latest reality star.  Don’t get me started about Christmas.

2.  What’s Happening to the Weather?  As I write this, it’s 74 degrees.  Earlier today, the mercury climbed to around 80 degrees.  It’s March, when we should be basking in 40 or 50 degree temperatures in the Midwest, donning raincoats and toting umbrellas around.

This is not “normal,” and I don’t like it.  Flowering bulbs that should be blooming in April are in full bloom.  Magnolia trees that normally explode with color in April are now flowering. Turf is starting to grow.  People are outside sunbathing!  Here we just completed a “winter that wasn’t” and now have lost spring to early summer.  The weatherman said we’ve set five new record highs for the month — and there’s still two weeks to go. Talk about March Madness off the basketball court.

A magnolia tree in full bloom in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood on March 18.

Our world is changing.  And, maybe not all for the better.  Sometimes, it’s beneficial looking back to the essence of a holiday or event that truly makes it meaningful, that truly gives it purpose.  Sometimes the cold, wet and bleak days of March make us enjoy and appreciate spring and summer when it does arrive for good.   There.  I’m not as blue anymore.