Oct 27

“We are sorry the guy died, but what can we do?”

United Arab Emirates Swimming Association executive director Ayman Saad was direct and to the Products_image2-2660-d point when asked to comment about the death of 26-year-old American swimmer Fran Crippen this past weekend. He sighed and said (Saad?), “We are sorry the guy died, but what can we do?” What can one do? The answer is: a whole helluva lot more than the UAE Swimming Association apparently did.

Crippen was competing in a 10 kilometer open water race in the UAE and, according to a top official with FINA, an international organization governing swimming, likely died from overexertion. The ever-sympathetic Saad, added: “This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot.” Oh. 

Other swimmers disagreed with Saad’s moronic observations. The winner, Thomas Lurz, said it was far too hot to even hold the competition. "The water was amazingly hot. There were many swimmers who had serious problems in the water,’ said Lurz. Several swimmers complained of dehydration and disorientation after swimming in the warm water and three were taken to the hospital. The UAE Swimming Association said the water was 84 degrees at the start of the race. Many other swimmers have said the water temperature was more like 90 degrees! Man, that’s bathtub hot.

Two reactions:

-      I’m not a competitive swimmer, but have competed in many long distance running events where the same exact thing happened. In April of this year, for example, I ran the Long Branch Half Marathon in 90 degree temperatures. More than 30 runners collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital. I stopped four or five times during the run and took a full month to recover from the severe dehydration. Too many race officials such as the ones in the UAE and Long Branch turn a blind eye when it comes to protecting the safety of athletes. They’re more concerned with getting the race started on time and pleasing the sponsors.

-      Saad’s comments have to rank on my all-time top 10 list of stupid remarks. Others would include:

  • “I’m not a witch,” Christine O’Donnell, Delaware Tea Party candidate and erstwhile witch.
  • “We seem to have a major malfunction,” NASA official witnessing the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in mid flight.
  • “Mission accomplished,” President George W. Bush, declaring the war in Iraq won in 2004.
  • “The Gulf of Mexico is a big ocean,” Tony Heyward, erstwhile CEO of BP, immediately after the massive oil spill had occurred.
  • “I did not have sex with that woman,” President William Jefferson Clinton.

Help me here, Repman readers. What are some other all-time horrific public comments? Let’s create a list and ask Jack O’Dwyer, Paul Holmes or Erica Iacono to publish it. Hey, if we go about this the right way it could become an annual ‘Repman and friends Top 10 most stupid statements of the year’ kind of thing. Alternatively, we could give credit where credit is due and name our list, ‘The Ayman Saad Most Moronic Comments of the Year.’ What better way to pay tribute to that ass?’

So, send me your thoughts. Assuming I collect 10 or more, I’ll issue a press release and ask our crack agency publicity team to pitch it to one of the PR industry trades. I can’t think of a better way to ‘out’ Saad while paying tribute to the late Mr. Crippen.

A tip o' RepMan's the mountain climbing hat to The Danderoo for this suggestion.

Jul 19

RepMan, APR

So, did you notice those little three letters that follow my blogging nom de plume above? Pretty 
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darn impressive, no? The letters stand for Accredited in Public Relations. And, they are the subject of a surprisingly heated debate within the greater public relations hierarchy.

One earns an APR by successfully completing a three-hour, SAT-type test that probes one's views, actions and reactions to hypothetical crisis and brand challenges. Having successfully completed the test, a PR practitioner is considered accredited in public relations. Critically, he or she can henceforth have the APR letters printed on his or her business card.

I wouldn't bother writing about something so insignificant if it weren't for the following:

– An alarmingly large number of otherwise informed and intelligent PR executives actually believe the APR automatically implies quality counseling and leadership ability.
– This same cult believes APR is a critical component in making PR a more credible industry.
– The Public Relations Society of America refuses to allow anyone to hold a senior position without possessing said letters.
– The PRSA charges a hefty sum for individuals to take the test.

Here's the bottom line on the APR. It's a nice little test that agencies can use as part of an overall management training and development program. And, I'm sure it's an ego boost for John Smith or Jane Doe to add the APR to their business cards and correspondence. But, that's as far it goes.

The APR is not an M.D. It's not a Ph.D. and it's not even remotely close to being the equivalent of passing the bar or the Series Seven. In short, it's meaningless in the larger public relations and business worlds. Clients don't demand their agencies are staffed with APR-certified staff. In fact, the vast majority don't even know what it is. Those who do consider it worthless.

And, yet the tempest in the teapot rages on in the power circles of the PRSA. It's sad to see so many 'fundamentalists' hold on to their ancient, bogus beliefs and withhold leadership opportunities to the many highly competent executives who, like me, have never bothered to take the APR test. All this, mind you, while advertising, interactive and other marketing disciplines continue to blur the lines between what they and we do.

It's akin to fiddling while Rome burns.