Emperor Blagojevich’s Anti-Tribune Plot

Shocking. Revolting. Disgusting.
Those are just a few of the words that come to my mind on the heels of reading the 76-page complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago against Emperor (aka “Illinois Governor”) Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris.

But, especially as it relates to his alleged effort to oust one or more members of the Chicago Tribune‘s editorial board, a few other words spring forth:

Ignorant and naive. “Delusional” also may be an apt description.

Rather than focus on doing a better job as governor–now there is a novel approach to halting the sharp criticism he had been receiving from the Tribune–Blagojevich allegedly opted to try to engineer the firing of the people writing the editorials about him. As if the next round of editorial writers would suddenly, without justification, begin singing his praises.

Anyway, over 20-odd years in journalism, I encountered similar fantasy-land notions about the workings of a credible journalistic outlet. Others who ought to know better–public officials, police officers and business leaders–have displayed the same fundamental ignorance about how stories wind up in the newspaper, and who precisely is in charge of editorial content.

Sadly, more than a few publicists have displayed the same incoherence on this basic journalism reality. Each time, I would ask the individual if he or she had ever worked as a journalist. Invariably, the answer was no–or some token stint in the industry that was best measured in weeks or months.

Blagojevich should have known much better than to try to manipulate Tribune staffing (well, he should have known better on a lot of fronts). And with a spokesman, in Lucio Guerrero, who is a former Chicago Sun-Times reporter, he had a close-at-hand resource who could have given him relevant counsel.

Perhaps Blagojevich–and his similarly potty-mouthed wife, Patti–never sought the counsel. We’ll learn more as the case unfolds.

At this point, though, one thing is clear about Emperor Blagojevich: when it came to his lamebrained master plan of media manipulation, nobody had the sense to tell him he was wearing no clothes.

The Marketing Wizardry of Roz

Roz Byrne has always had a flair for fun. In her radio days, as a rock ‘n’ roll DJ, she was “Rockin’ Roz” and worked alongside the likes of renowned contrarian Michael Moore.

For the past seven years, she has rocked the world of Chicago real estate, going the extra mile for clients in a variety of ways.

From her base in Oak Park as one of the top Realtors at Gloor Realty, she has compiled a listing of service providers–a kind of personalized Yellow Pages–that she updates periodically and gives to hundreds of people, including newcomers moving into the area.

She donates $100 from every closing to the charity of her client’s choice. And she has gained specialized certifications, such as the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation, which underscores her training and ability to help seniors find housing, often as they downsize.

And this Halloween week, she has transformed into The Wizard of Roz. As she ventures into shops throughout the Oak Park-River Forest-Forest Park area, Byrne is delivering Hershey’s chocolate bars, her business card and this clever message:

“Don’t be afraid of the real estate market. It’s a wicked good time to be a buyer.”

After all these years of outgoing behavior, Byrne may be confused for someone who can pull off these gambits at the drop of her colorful wizard’s cap. But like any successful person, she continually fights through her comfort zone to do those things–like dress up in outlandish style and approach people who might think she’s off her rocker–to get her message out and move her business forward.

In the midst of a decidely down real estate market, that willingness to venture into scary territory is one of the keys to Byrne’s thriving career. And it’s also central to successful public relations in any field.

Go to Roz Real Estate</a href> to learn more, click on the video below to hear some of her wizardry–and think about how you can apply some of the same principles in your endeavors:

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No Good Deed Shall Go Unpublished!

“No good deed shall go unpunished.”

I first heard that phrase from Mike Bailey, my curmudgeonly (in a classic newspaper way) former editor at The Courier News in Elgin, Ill. That’s Mike’s mug you see here to the right.

I know Mike didn’t originate the phrase, nor did George Steinbrenner, the longtime (and often curmudgeonly) owner of the New York Yankees baseball empire, pictured below. I summon George’s name because I saw the same phrase on a pillow in his office. That was in January 2001, during an impromptu Yankee Stadium tour that I was fortunate enough to receive.

In effect, the “no good deed” is a humbling reminder that even our best intentions, and best actions, can be met with derision or, befuddlingly enough, strong opposition.

But as I embark on some publicity for a client who is making a significant donation to schoolchildren, I would like to offer a new, more hopeful saying that spins off the jaded “no good deed shall go unpunished.”

Here it is: “No good deed shall go unpublished.”

(I realize that I’m not coining a phrase here–a check of Google turns up seven listings with that PR-tinged line, which, I should note, is about 5,000 fewer references than the more commonly expressed “unpunished” line.)

Alphabet Soup: Consume With Caution

We live in the USA–the United States of Acronymia.

What’s your initial reaction to that twist on our country’s name? LOL?

See, only two sentences into this post, and I’ve dropped two acronyms on you. Lost yet? (LOL is “laugh out loud,” by the way.)

One of the biggest enemies of clarity in communication is this overuse of acronyms. This comes to mind a day after Chicago’s WBBM 780 radio broadcast of the Chicago Marathon.

In my half-hour of listening, Josh Liss must have used the term “PR” at least 10 times in connection with various runners’ efforts. Not once did I hear him offer the words attached to each letter.

Serious runners certainly would know what he meant, but what proportion of the radio station’s listeners are casual fans (like me) and therefore may have been hazy on what “PR” stands for?

As I listened to the broadcast, I was scrubbing the bathtub and performing other cleaning tasks. In that moment, to me, PR meant “persisent rinsing.” I am also a publicist, so in that realm “PR” represents “public relations.”

Actually, what Liss meant was “personal record”: an individual’s best-ever marathon time. I suspected that was the case, then looked it up just now online to be sure.

If a true pro like Liss can fall prey to this tendency–I’ve heard him for years, and he’s usually an excellent communicator–then we all need to be vigilant about steering clear of exclusively using abbreviated jargon.

I’m not advocating an outright ban on alphabet soup, but every once in a while we ought to intersperse acronyms with their complete phrasing, particularly when we are speaking to an audience that may not be so familiar with the jargon.

Text messaging has spawned numerous acronyms, of course, such as the LOL noted above. You can see many more here.

And while we’re on the subject of the Chicago Marathon, if you know someone who ran–or even if you don’t–you can see how they fared. I see another Matthew Baron, a 37-year-old from Los Angeles, ran the 26.2 miles in about 5 hours.

Kudos, namesake! Even if that time was not your PR, I hope that you appreciate this little bit of PR.

The Missing LinkedIn: Personalization

I’ve written about LinkedIn a time or two.

Here’s another ditty, which dates back to two weeks ago, when a woman asked me to connect via LinkedIn. Problem is, I had no idea who she was. Then I did some cursory searching online and discovered that she and I share an alma mater.

One would think that would have been a relevant shred of information for her to mention when she tendered the invitation. Wait a second–scratch that. She didn’t do anything that resembles a legitimate invitation. Instead, she clicked on a few buttons and triggered an automated message.

She’s yet to follow up with me, and I’ve yet to respond to her.

So, here’s a tip for anyone looking to add value to your LinkedIn experience: take a few moments and actually personalize the greeting. Maybe you can indicate why you think the linkage would be mutually beneficial. Or perhaps you can simply refer to some common ground. Or the weather.

Or anything, so long as it shows you are investing some thought into the process.

It’s a nice start to the LinkedIn liaison, and it shows professionalism and personability.

I do it every time I make a LinkedIn invitation–even with people I know very well and interact with daily. Heck, I did it when I invited my own brother into my LinkedIn network. (Of course, he’s not yet approved the invitation. “Yo, Andy, it’s me, your brother!”)

One final note: A recent LinkedIn partner of mine has some other worthwhile remarks you may want to check out.