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Post-tornado support campaign wins Ebeling PRize at Bradley University
December 18, 2014
With the support of the Washington, Illinois community and its leaders, Empowered Media partnered with Five Points Washington, the Washington Chamber of Commerce, and Washington Township United Fund, to host the kickoff event to the first ever Washington Strong week. The November event, “Cooking Up Community,” was a celebration of solidarity for residents and businesses affected by the November 2013 tornado that devastated that community. Local businesses set up booths at the event and Washington residents came together to socialize and participate in many activities.
The Empowered Media team includes seniors Samantha Pallini of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Erika Kubik of St. Charles, Missouri, Taylor Stephens of Edina, Minnesota, and Anna Wilks of Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Ebeling PR-ize™ was conceived by Bradley alumnus Chuck Ebeling and faculty member Dr. Ron Koperski, and is a competitive program among Bradley’s senior public relations students in their capstone course. It was first awarded in 2004.Students in the capstone course form “agency” teams and are responsible for planning and implementing a real, coordinated public relations campaign on behalf of a local business and a compatible community service organization. Campaign submissions and judging criteria are based on the nationally recognized Silver Anvil Award competition administered by the Public Relations Society of America.
Ebeling served as a public affairs officer in the Army and later held public relations positions with several major agencies and national corporations before joining McDonald’s Corporation, where he rose to the position of chief spokesman and vice president of corporate communications. A 1966 graduate of Bradley, he was inducted into the University’s Centurion Society in October, 2011, in recognition of his achievements in business, public life, and his profession.
The latest furor over the Boston bomber is his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, or rather the reaction of some retail businesses, refusing to sell this issue. It is a classical, visceral response triggered by the association of the alternative media reputation of the magazine with the attractive picture of the young man, as if it were some kind of endorsement of his deeply anti-social act.
Of course, it is and it isn’t. The cover copy describes him as a “monster.” And the same photo has appeared elsewhere, including in the New York Times. But, the combination of the appealing photo on the cover of this infamous alternative media publication seems to imply to some that he is being treated as some sort of rock star.
I have my own reasons for disliking the style of Rolling Stone, having once been personally attacked in its pages, and quite inappropriately so. But I suppose Bill McCrystal thinks the same thing about himself.
Anyway, that some companies like Walgreen drug stores refuse to sell this issue of the magazine is their own business, in my view. After all, companies are made up of people, just like magazines, and they have a right to their own views. The bomber is repugnant, and on this most agree. How we choose to treat him in the court of public opinion is up to each of us, and the private sector organizations to which we give our fealty. But what the courts do is a matter of law, not just of taste. And the taste we have in our mouths is a pretty awful one.
This morning, I read a wonderful story about how McDonald’s ad agency in Columbus, Ohio, has coined the word “Nocturnavores” in reference to those customers seeking out “Breakfast After Midnight”. McDonald’s now has some 127 restaurants in northern Ohio serving customers 24 hours a day, and offering breakfast after midnight, instead of after 5am. Thus, the breakfast “day part” is extended to 10 hours (midnight to 10am) at McDonald’s, reflecting and anticipating dining trends, especially among younger people. http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2012/07/31/mcdonalds-launches-breakfast-after.html.
The term “locavores” was coined several years ago to refer to people who choose to buy locally-grown food. The 2012 spring Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related public relations at Bradley University was won by a team that created a campaign called “The Peoria Locavores,” promoting locally-produced food in the Peoria, Illinois market.
If I were a PR counsel to Rupert Murdoch, and am sure glad I’m not, I’d advise that he convene combined forums of journalism academics and leading working editors and journalists, from print and electronic media, representing conventional and social media, from around the globe, and dig deep into the subject of journalistic ethics, with the goal of setting new universal standards for the 21st century.
Murdoch should make a serious investment, financially and in transparency, in the results and agree to take the lead in aggressively implementing and policing new ethical practices across whatever remains of his own journalistic empire, if he still has one by that time.
However, I’m not holding my breath…nor would I buy a used car from him.
My most costly magazine subscription is “The Economist” magazine (Economist.com @ $138/yr, with some lower deals available), but I think it’s the best buy, because of articles like the current (July 9-13) issue’s 14-page special report on the future of news, called, in its inimical British way, Back to the Coffee House.
In their lead story, the magazine reviews steps individuals can take to mitigate their worries about the transformation of the news business: “As producers of new journalism, they can be scrupulous with facts and transparent with their sources. As consumers, they can be catholic in their tastes and demanding in their standards.”
This special Economist in-depth section on the future of news brings the historical and social context of news into sharp new focus, and in my humble opinion, as a lifetime student of journalism, deserves to be required reading in schools that teach journalism, public relations and communications (reprints are available). As The Economist enjoins: “The coffee house is back. Enjoy it.”
In its May/June issue, the Columbia Journalism Review features an article called “The Second Age of Public Relations,” which seems to conclude that PR is gaining on journalists and journalism in both numbers of practitioners and in influence, and treats this as an insidious development.
Maybe, from their perspective anyway, to some extent it is. While I trained as a journalist and have taught journalism at the university level, I have spent my entire career in public relations. I have never willingly lied to a journalist. I will admit to occasionally working in the gray area between truth and lies, but only to the extent of representing the perspective of my “client,” because as everyone knows, there can sometimes be multiple “truths” or perspectives on an issue.
Here’s is my response to the article, which I posted on the CJR website under the article in question.
PR people, like lawyers, represent their client’s interests, whether the “client” is a business, a not-for-profit organization, an arm of government, an individual, a candidate, or even the media itself. If PR people are ethical, their stock in trade is asserting the truth, at least the truth as seen from their client’s perspective. Good PR people are first reporters — they report about their client organization to outside constituencies, often through the media, but sometimes directly. Good PR people work with editors and journalists based on mutually understood rules of truth and fairness, and yes, there are occasions when both sides violate or circumvent these rules. And yes, PR is about a lot more than media relations, and can span the entire realm of communications and relationships. Many journalists will concede, if they are candid, that they can only do their job well with the assistance of good PR people. The writer’s notion that PR is gaining on journalism is perhaps a somewhat distorted version of the truth — too much journalism is descending into infotainment, and journalism is being reinvented as a much more direct and diffused form of reporting through so-called social media.
Posted by Charles Ebeling, APR on Tue 3 May 2011 at 12:38 PM
They say reputation is everything. The March 23 edition of Fortune Magazine names McDonald’s among the top 10 overall of the World’s Most-Admired Companies, among 1,400 major U.S. and International companies rated by 4,100 industry experts. McDonald’s rated #1 in 3 of 9 categories: Effectiveness in conducting its business globally; Quality of Management; and, Wise use of corporate assets. McDonald’s also rated #1 in the Food Services category.
Back in the 1990’s, when I was corporate communications officer of McDonald’s, I worked with Fortune for over a year to develop a category within which McDonald’s could be considered for ranking in their “Most-Admired” search. From a simple hamburger stand created by Dick and Mac McDonald, to a corporation and a brand nurtured by Ray Kroc and generations of leaders, McDonald’s is now known and admired around the world. McDonald’s has come a long way.
For more information, go to this Fortune website: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/mostadmired/2011/index.html
The Super Bowl champ Green Bay Packers are one of the most legendary teams in all of professional sports, I think most Americans would agree. And they are owned by what amounts to a community trust — shareholders who can’t sell their shares or their home team. I inherited my shares from my grandfather, a Green Bay businessman who in the 1920s invested to save the team, expecting no return other than keeping the Packers alive, and promoting his beloved Green Bay community throughout the state and nation. Could other professional sports teams and their wealthy owners, who sometimes treat their loyal regional fans not so well, learn something about community loyalty and positive community relations from the Packers? They sure could.
Packer’s PR Director for the past 22 years, Jeff Blumb, has resigned (http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20110321/PKR01/110321061/1231/gpg0202/Blumb-resigns-Packers-PR-director?odyssey=nav%7Chead), and I think the guy deserves a big trophy and the thanks of sports fans (especially Packer fans) everywhere, for successfully managing the fine reputation of that great team over more than a generation. I can relate — I spent 22 years managing public relations for another great brand, McDonald’s, and while it was an honor to be involved with so many terrific people, it was often a demanding burden. I retired early to take a break. Jeff deserves the same opportunity to take a break, with laurels. Here’s a pic of myself in the midst of a winter snowstorm at Lambeau Field. Go Pack!