Heading West: Follow Me To ColoROBo

Well, I’m actually doing something that I’ve talked about for years. I’m relocating this week to a small town in the mountains in Colorado, Woodland Park. I hope you’ll follow me on the journey and as I post on my new blog, ColoROBo, about life in Colorado, matters of interest in the media, and my efforts to more fully embrace a writer’s life by publishing a novel.

I started this blog, PR On The Run, nearly five years ago, while I was teaching classes in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State in media ethics, public relations and writing — and working with the most outstanding group of young people anywhere: students in Flash Communications. I figured that if I was going to stand in front of a class and opine about changes shaping public relations and journalism, I better at least make an attempt to understand blogs and blogging and how to write for readers online rather than in print.

I’ve had a blast, even though I’ve never gained that big of an audience or made a penny from these daily digital brain droppings. But it forced me to keep current on events — and to keep writing.  And hey. For someone obsessive enough to get up nearly every day for more than 30 years before 4 a.m. to hit the concrete or treadmill for a five-mile run, spending an hour or so cobbling together a few hundred words isn’t all that tough. Mostly, I appreciate those who took the time to read these posts and to add their perspective through thoughtful comments.

Even without the move to Colorado, it would have been a good time to bring an end to PR On The Run.

I’ve discovered that I really don’t have anything new or important to add to the discussion of public relations. I’ll always believe that ethical, honest and timely communications form the heart of a successful public relations program. But the field now seems to be dominated by tactical discussions about the use — and many times misuse — of social media: Facebook, Twitter and so on. That’s not necessarily bad. It’s just something I don’t understand — and quite honestly, don’t really care about.

And I’ve become extremely cynical about the ability of our elected leaders in Washington and elsewhere to take any action that benefits the public, rather than their own re-elections or vested interests. Better not to comment than to be negative about just about everything in the public arena these days. And I’m liberal on some issues, conservative on others. That makes for some pretty tepid opinions in a venue that encourages writers to hurl lightning bolts and take no prisoners.

And more and more I’ve become interested in issues involving the sorry state of public education in the country — and the growing attack on teachers that will do nothing but make a bad situation worse. Unlike beach volleyball, these apparently aren’t issues of widespread interest or concern. Too bad.

So I don’t have a final post for PR On The Run.

No need.

I’m not retiring from blogging or anything else I find interesting and enjoyable, including running and drinking Jameson. I’m going to keep writing in a different forum, ColoROBo, and from a different perspective as I begin the next stage in my life living above the clouds.

I’ll be back in early September.

In Colorado.

What’s Missing in Business and Politics: Trust

Well, I’m back from a week’s vacation at Hilton Head. But I can’t seem to get that excited about any of the stories being churned to death by the mainstream media. Sure. I fret about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, just like everyone else. And Ann Curry got the shaft on Today, apparently because she didn’t measure up on the cooking segments. Go figure.

Maybe it’s the hot, humid weather in NE Ohio and elsewhere. I’ve been trying to hit the concrete or chase the treadmill belt most days, but August is my least favorite month to run. And it’s been August now since May. I know. Plenty have it worse: our soldiers in Afghanistan and the fire fighters who saved the community in Colorado that I’m planning to relocate to before Labor Day.

And maybe it’s the presidential election campaign — which seems to me to be entering its fourth year now. Will this long national nightmare ever end? Hate to admit this. But the more ads I watch the less I trust both candidates and both political parties. If Pinocchio ran as a third-party candidate, he’d win. At least we would know for sure when he was fibbing.

Or not.

It appears that doing the wrong thing is pretty acceptable these days, especially on Wall Street. Here’s an interesting story from Reuters: “Quarter of Wall Street Executives See Wrongdoing As Key To Success: Survey“:

July 10 (Reuters) – If the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes were to go out with his lantern in search of an honest many today, a survey of Wall Street executives on workplace conduct suggests he might have to look elsewhere.

A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday.

In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.

Oh, mama. Don’t let your babies grow up to be investment bankers.

Better, if they want the big bucks, that they become CEO of a company involved in a merger. That’s where the big buck are. For example, here’s from the NYT: “Ouster at Duke Energy Draws Scrutiny in North Carolina“:

A boardroom coup at Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, is expected to come under scrutiny on Tuesday when North Carolina regulators question the company’s chief executive.

James E. Rogers, Duke’s chief, has been in a harsh spotlight since last week, when Duke closed its $26 billion merger with Progress Energy, a rival. The transaction, struck 18 months ago, called for Progress’s chief executive, William D. Johnson, to run the combined company. But just hours after the deal’s completion, the Duke-dominated board ousted Mr. Johnson and put Mr. Rogers in charge.

Duke’s directors, including Mr. Rogers, have refused to discuss the reasons for the switch. Neither has Mr. Johnson, who received an exit package worth up to $44 million and signed an agreement not to disparage the company.

Wow. A $44 million exit package for a guy, Mr. Johnson, who according to The Daily Mail only had the job for 20 minutes.

Oh by the way. Rogers, Duke’s former and I guess now current chief, is heading what apparently has been up to this point a rather lackluster  fundraising effort for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Maybe he should put the arm on Mr. Johnson for some cash.



Colorado Firefighters: Heroes Again

I was in Hilton Head last week, where the living is easy but the internet and AT&T phone connections are iffy at best. And I’ll admit it. My enthusiasm for trying to get a connection and posting while on vacation didn’t top my priority list as the temps hit 100 and Pool Bar Jim’s served iced-cool beer. There will never be an Arab Spring in South Carolina. Trust me.

And at a time when Ann Curry got sacked from her position on the anchor couch because, according to NBC News Chief Steve Capus, “Curry had faltered in the cooking segments, movie star interviews and fluffy features that make up a large portion of “Today”.” Wow. And we find it surprising that only about 50 percent of the people in this country are even aware that the Supremes ruled on Obamacare. (See “Obama’s health care: Many unaware of court ruling“)

I would have known about the health care ruling on the morning it was announced. But, alas, I had the channel turned to CNN. And the reporters and pundits on that cable network had absolutely no clue about what the Supremes did, or didn’t do. Maybe it’s time for CNN to focus on cooking segments, celebrity interviews and fluffy features. As someone opined on Twitter, the surprise wasn’t that CNN got it wrong. The surprise was that so many were actually watching CNN. Ouch.

And while off the grid in just about every other way, I did gain an appreciation for the value of Twitter as a source of information and connectivity.

My son, Brian, lives in Colorado Springs. And while he was with us in Hilton Head, we followed with great interest the devastating wildfires that caused tremendous damage to Colorado Springs and nearby communities. And I found Twitter to be the best and most reliable source of information: #waldocanyonfire.

And what came through via the Tweets was the dedication and heroism of the firefighters who battled the wildfires and without question saved many lives and homes. I don’t know who took the picture that I am including here. But it shows a group of firefighters who went to sleep in a driveway or parking lot close to the fire — so the could get up quickly and get back to work again, rather than take the time to commute from a location away from the fire. We should all try to remember that next time we call for budget cuts that reduce the jobs, pay and benefits of firefighters — and other public employees for that matter.

Oh by the way. On our way to Hilton Head, my wife, Mary, and I signed a contract to sell our house in Copley, Ohio. And we are planning to relocate before Labor Day to Woodland Park, Colorado, which was right on the edge of the Waldo Canyon fire.

Let’s hope when we get there that we have internet and phone service.

And thank God for the firefighters and others who risked their lives to protect what is one of the most scenic spots in the USA.

Health Care Ads: Return of the Death Panels?

I guess today or next week the Supremes are going to have to opine on Obama’s health care plan. And ready or not, many Americans — and American businesses — have already decided they don’t like the plan, especially the individual mandate that would require everyone to get insurance. Credit effective advertising in large part for this. When the pols first started heading down this road, I figured it would be a slam dunk.

Here’s from the NYT, “Distaste for Health Care Law Reflects Spending on Ads“:

Erika Losse is precisely the kind of person President Obama’s signature health care law is intended to help. She has no health insurance. She relies on her mother to buy her a yearly checkup as a Christmas gift, and she pays out of her own pocket for the rest of her medical care, including $1,250 for a recent ultrasound.

But Ms. Losse, 33, a part-time worker at a bagel shop, is no fan of the law, which will require millions of uninsured Americans like herself to get health coverage by 2014. Never mind that Ms. Losse, who makes less than $35,000 a year, would probably qualify for subsidized insurance under the law.

“I’m positive I can’t afford it,” she said.

A Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the health care law is expected any day now, but even if the Obama administration wins in the nation’s highest court, most evidence suggests it has lost miserably in the court of public opinion. National polls have consistently found the health care law has far more enemies than friends, including a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that found more than two-thirds of Americans hope the court will overturn some or all of it.

“The Democrats have done a very poor job of selling the program,” said Gary Schiff, 65, a retired teacher and businessman here. “All you hear about it now is the Republicans saying what’s wrong with it: that it’s socialism, that it’s going to bankrupt the country. I’ll give them credit; they’re great at framing the debate.”

That success may stem in large part from more than $200 million in advertising spending by an array of conservative groups, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($27 million) to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ($18 million), which includes the billionaire Sheldon Adelson among its donors, and the American Action Network ($9 million), founded by Fred V. Malek, an investor and prominent Republican fund-raiser.

In all, about $235 million has been spent on ads attacking the law since its passage in March 2010, according to a recent survey by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. Only $69 million has been spent on advertising supporting it. Just $700,000 of that comes from the Obama campaign, and none of its ads mentioning the law are currently being broadcast, said Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. “It explains, in a nutshell, why polling shows attitudes about the law to be at best mixed,” she said.

On the other side, the 60 Plus Association, a conservative lobbying group for older Americans, has targeted Democratic senators up for re-election with about $10 million in ads warning that under the law, “unaccountable bureaucrats” will be able to “ration care.”

Say what: “ration care”? I’m about to enter Medicare — which is greatly appreciated even though it seems a little like something socialists would love — and the last thing I want to hear about is “ration care.” I have every intention of going before a death panel at age 100 and arguing for triple hip replacement.

Oops. Sorry. I lost the thread.

Anyway, when Obama came along with his notions of hope and change, I figured that a national health care program — similar in concept to Medicare and Medicaid — would be in the offing for most everyone.

Guess not.

Regardless of what the Supremes say.


That’s A Clown Question, Bro

I spent the better part of 20 years being the primary spokesman for a large company, BFGoodrich. During that time, I had the opportunity to work with some exceptional journalists who were knowledgeable, ethical and fair. And I had the misfortune to work with some who couldn’t find their asses with both hands in the dark.

Every time I received a call from someone in that latter group I had to strap on the blood pressure cuff and bite my tongue. Nothing to be gained by stating the obvious: You’re an asshat. But it did cross my mind.

So I read with interest the retort of Washington Nationals outfield Bryce Harper to a question posed by a scribbler in Toronto. Here’s the backstory, from Yahoo sports:

Bryce Harper‘s comebacks look ready for the big leagues, too.

The 19-year-old Washington Nationals outfielder quipped ”That’s a clown question, bro” to a Toronto TV reporter who asked if he planned to take advantage of Canada’s lower drinking age after belting a long home run in a win over the Blue Jays.

For a brief time, the highest trending topic on Twitter was Harper’s response: ”That’s a clown question, bro.” The outfielder’s name was also among the site’s most popular subjects.

Sweet. Wonder if Harper has ever taken any formal training courses in news media relations? Probably no need.

Anyway, what got me thinking about this was a story that made its way out of the Rose Garden last week when Prez O was essentially heckled by a reporter as he was announcing a change in immigration policy. Here’s from the NYT:

As Mr. Obama was making a statement from the Rose Garden about a new immigration policy on Friday afternoon, a reporter from The Daily Caller, a conservative news Web site, repeatedly raised his voice and tried to interrupt. The reporter, Neil Munro, tried to ask whether the policy — intended to help young illegal immigrants get work — was good for legal American workers.

“Excuse me, sir,” Mr. Obama said when Mr. Munro initially spoke up. He put his hand in the air and raised a finger, as if to say “wait.”

“It’s not time for questions, sir,” Mr. Obama continued. “Not while I’m speaking.”

A few minutes later, Mr. Obama referenced the incident by saying, “And the answer to your question, sir, and the next time I’d prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask that question, is this is the right thing to do for the American people.”

Mr. Munro then apparently interrupted again.

“I didn’t ask for an argument, I’m answering your question,” Mr. Obama said.

OK. One of the failings of journalism these days is that the mainstream media — especially those reporters based inside the power alleys of DC and New York — are more lapdogs for those in power than watchdogs for the public. So by all means, ask some tough questions.

But hey. Let’s have a little civility. The President reading a statement in the Rose Garden is not the same as when the British Prime Minister stands in the well at the House of Commons. Sheesh.

But the Prez could have shut Munro up and won the 24/7 news cycle just by replying:

“That’s a clown question, bro.”

Staying North of the Border

Thankfully Obama’s view on at least one part of immigration policy evolved before the debacle at a Mexican restaurant in Copley Saturday night.

Although if the Homeland Defenders see this photo, I guess deportation for me may still be an option.

Adios, amigos.


Exercise: Is Less More?

OK. I finished my five-mile run early this am. I generally do this five days a week. And it takes me about an hour each day from start to finish. Am I exercising too much for my own good?


I’ve been doing this now for more than 30 years. And like most nonprofessional runners, I started one day long ago by huffing and puffing trying to make my way around the block. Then a year or so later I found myself crossing the finish line at the Columbus Marathon.

The theory was always to push as much as possible. Add miles and time spent on the concrete or treadmill progressively. And I have the log books to prove it.

But an article in the NYT — “Phys Ed: Moderation as the Exercise Sweet Spot” — advances the idea that when it comes to the health benefits you get from exercise, moderation is key. And less might just be more.

For people who exercise but fret that they really should be working out more, new studies may be soothing. The amount of exercise needed to improve health and longevity, this new science shows, is modest, and more is not necessarily better.

That is the message of the newest and perhaps most compelling of the studies, which was presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in San Francisco. For it, researchers at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and other institutions combed through the health records of 52,656 American adults who’d undergone physicals between 1971 and 2002 as part of the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. Each participant completed physical testing and activity questionnaires and returned for at least one follow-up visit.

The researchers found that about 27 percent of the participants reported regularly running, although in wildly varying amounts and paces.

The scientists then checked death reports.

Over the course of the study, 2,984 of the participants died. But the incidence was much lower among the group that ran. Those participants had, on average, a 19 percent lower risk of dying from any cause than non-runners.

Notably, in closely parsing the participants’ self-reported activities, the researchers found that running in moderation provided the most benefits. Those who ran 1 to 20 miles per week at an average pace of about 10 or 11 minutes per mile — in other words, jogging — reduced their risk of dying during the study more effectively than those who didn’t run, those (admittedly few) who ran more than 20 miles a week, and those who typically ran at a pace swifter than seven miles an hour.

“These data certainly support the idea that more running is not needed to produce extra health and mortality benefits,” said Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans and an author of the study. “If anything,” he continued, “it appears that less running is associated with the best protection from mortality risk. More is not better, and actually, more could be worse.”

Oh, mama. Something else to fret about.

Regardless, any amount of walking, running, swimming, biking and so on seems to me to go in the plus column.

And if more people exercised even moderately instead of regularly downing a keg of Coke and a trailer full of popcorn at the movies, we might all be better off.