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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Homelessness: The True Image of a National Emergency

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

The concept of a “national emergency” dominated media coverage in recent weeks, driven by President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this month to demand federal funding to build the wall on the nation’s southern border.

This controversial use of presidential power certainly raised questions, primarily:

  • Is there, indeed, a crisis along our border with Mexico in terms of illegal entry, drug smuggling and other criminal activity?
  • Does this president, or any president, have the constitutional authority to declare a national emergency and demand federal funds without Congressional approval?

Perhaps there have been true national emergencies taking place here in the United States for a prolonged time in our history; but, they just don’t make headlines.

Note the image within this post. This lady shared a CTA Blue Line car with me, other Chicagoans and visitors one morning this week.  Most passengers on this train probably were headed to work, school, an appointment or home.

From what’s depicted here, this lady was probably going to none of the above.

Look closely, she’s there, behind the glass partition, wearing a brown jacket and maneuvering a cart loaded with sacks containing what’s likely her worldly possessions.

As she was about to exit at the Jackson station platform, I handed her some cash, about what I would spend on two beers these days, minus tip.

She paused, smiled, said thank you and put the bill in her pocket. I sensed dignity in this lady by the way she looked at me, responded to my offer and effectively moved her cart and belongings off the el car and onto the platform.

I hope the President or someone within his administration recognizes that homelessness is a true national emergency, and it’s taking place in many, many other cities and towns across the nation. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, more than 550,000 in this nation are homeless.  Here in Illinois, more than 10,000 experience homelessness.

After my encounter with the lady, I continued on with my work day, then I headed home.

My regret is that I all I did was give this lady some money. My hope is that she finds a true home someday soon.

“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.

The Pallor Across America This Day in Autumn 2018

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

The intention was simple: Visit the local forest preserves to take in the remaining days when the trees around metropolitan Chicago still had color before being stripped bare by the passing of another season.

This path led me to a quiet place within nature. What path is America on right now?

Periodic light rain and the predominant overcast cloud cover would not prevent me from spending an enjoyable 60 or so minutes surrounded by nature and silence.

And, I did take in quiet time away from the our home in the Avondale neighborhood, as evidenced by the image at left.  But while I intended to just reflect and ponder nothing during my walk, my thoughts kept returning to the unsettling state our nation is in right now.

Yes, of course, I was stunned and distraught by the alleged actions of the Florida man now charged with sending pipe bombs to elected officials, including two past Presidents; and, I was emotionally deflated and enraged after learning yesterday that 11 people in Pittsburgh were fatally shot while practicing their faith at a synagogue.

The first scenario reportedly was motivated by political beliefs. The second has its foundation based in hatred.

But what also triggered my emotions beyond the pipe bomb scare and mass murder was something much less horrifying, yet certainly disturbing to me. It took place in a small community in southern Illinois.

At a rally yesterday led by President Donald Trump, some in the crowd in the community of Murphysboro chanted, “Lock her up,” echoing the chant often heard during the 2018 presidential election.

Think about this: A purported madman uses the U.S. mail to send explosive devices to elected officials and another man is now being held on charges of murdering fellow Americans in a house of worship.  However, those at the rally could not put aside their political differences for an evening; they were swept up by the moment, actions to me that dishonored the law enforcement officials who captured the bombing suspect, shot and later arrested the shooter, and most of all, the worshipers killed in Pittsburgh.

Shouldn’t Americans be better than this? Shouldn’t the people of America put their political beliefs aside following the two national news stories just mentioned?

Perhaps, I need to continue walking this fall in order to find an answer. Next week, I plan to follow a longer path.

 

 

Communications Advice For Anthony Scaramucci

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

By the time Publish button is pushed to share these thoughts with the world, who knows what new development will have taken place within the Trump Administration.

New (but for how long?) White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

So, I’ll be brief and get tot he focal point of this post: Communications advice for recently named White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Last week, Mr. Scaramucci burst on the national scene in what then was the latest shake up within the current executive branch.

A Wall Street guy, Mr. Scaramucci (to my understanding) does not have any formal communications experience.

So in an effort to usher in a less caustic national conversation, here’s some advice and best practices for Mr. Scaramucci to consider:

  1. Learn to mitigate threats. In essence, public relations initiatives take advantage of opportunities and mitigate threats.  It’s highly advisable that Mr. Scaramucci take the latter very seriously while doing his utmost to advance the former.
  2. Watch the language. Perhaps you’ve read about Mr. Scaramucci’s expletive-filled rank to a reporter last week.  In a tweet, he deemed the frequent f-bombs as being “colorful language.” From my experience, straightforward, “black and white” communications are much more effective because the crux of the message stays front and center.
  3. The media is not an enemy. As clearly stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the media has a right to exist. Men and women who cover the news aren’t going away. Being combative will only lead to more intensive scrutiny.

Mr. Scaramucci, should you read this and want to discuss further, please reach out; I promise to respond promptly.

And, I ask nothing in return, except that you perform your duties effectively and honestly.

I trust the American people would ask the same.

Rob Goldstone, Ethics and Public Relations

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

Updates continue from news sources world wide regarding the recent disclosure regarding Donald Trump, Jr. and his meeting in June of 2016 with an attorney reportedly tied to the Kremlin.

This report published earlier today from Reuters provides the President’s comments on this (as it’s known in the industry) “developing story.”

We’ll let the global news organizations continue their respective investigation.

Rob Goldstone. Photo courtesy of dailyentertainmentnews.com

In this space, we’ll put some analysis toward the actions of Rob Goldstone, the celebrity publicist who initiated the meeting between Mr. Trump, Jr., his brother in law Jared Kushner, and one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

A July 11 report from the New York Times provides an account of the email exchange, which Mr. Trump, Jr. shared with the world yesterday.

Upon reading the initial email message from Mr. Goldstone, those of us dedicated to the practice of ethical public relations had to share a collective “what the hell is he doing?” thought.

This passage from the June 3, 2016 email sent by Mr. Goldstone violates values and standards of conduct established to elevate public relations beyond propaganda and hucksterism:

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

Read this part again: “…official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary…”

Poor grammar and run-on sentence aside, this sinister communication is plain wrong for the founder of a New York-based communications firm and a person one would think would be removed from this kind of unsubstantiated messaging.

Mr. Goldstone opened the door violations of perhaps four Provisions of Conduct set by the Public Relations Society of America:

  • Disclosure of Information
  • Safeguarding Confidences
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Enhancing the Profession

Review these PRSA provisions and share your thoughts on Mr. Goldstone’s communications practices — practices that may have had an impact on the 2016 presidential election.

And, if you’d like to pose a question or offer a comment to Mr. Goldstone about his actions, his firm’s website includes his contact information.

 

“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?