The Ecstasy and the Agony

October 28, 2015

When it comes to feats of athleticism, a guy pushing 60 shouldn’t try to compete against a guy in his early ‘20s. Even if it is just against himself.

For each of the past two years, I have trained for and successfully completed a half-marathon.  My time in the 2013 Towpath Trilogy half was about 1:56, more than respectable. I didn’t do quite as well in April 2014 on a different course, but — still — at about 2:04, it was a very good showing.

Both times I trained fairly well.  I had the benefit of a terrific partner in Michael Murray in 2013.  Mike’s now gone on to training and running in marathons.

john half cropped

Kerezy running a half marathon in 2013

Both times, I devoted time and put in the necessary miles running prior to the event. Both times, I alternated between “performance” runs and off days in the training regime. Sure I had minor aches and pains in the process, but that comes with chronological age.

Then this year, somehow I got a crazy notion that perhaps I could do as well in a half marathon as I had when I ran my first such race. That was back in 1978.  Jimmy Carter was president. Gas was 65 cents a gallon, and three loaves of bread cost one dollar. We hadn’t heard of Three Mile Island or Iranian hostages yet.  Saturday Night Live’s line-up featured Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtain and Gilda Radner.

One big benefit I had going for me this year was knowledge.  I had picked up a tremendously helpful book, Be a Better Runner, by Sally Edwards, Carl Foster and Roy Wallack. The three authors are perhaps the most knowledgeable people around about every conceivable aspect of running training. In fact, this trio has competed in dozens of marathons, triathlons, and ultra-marathon events. I read the book and followed their recommendations as best I could.

I put in the miles.  My log indicates that I either ran or (on some off days) did elliptical training that totaled 178 miles between August 16 and October 8, my last “good run” day before the October 11 half-marathon.  I exceeded 10 miles twice in the training and had about eight more runs of 7 to 9 miles.

I ate better than I have in many years. Following the advice in the book, more vegetables and fruits found their way into my diet. Monounsaturated fats became a favorite, as did fish. I didn’t get rid of the unhealthy foods as much as I’d liked though.

My lovely wife Kathy warned me not to overdo it. When I confided with her that I was aiming for a time of around 1:50 to 1:55, she tempered my enthusiasm. But she supported me with better food and a lot of prayers and well wishes.

So, at 8 a.m. on October 11, there I was at the starting line at Brandywine Ski Resort.  Bib No. 2136 adorned my shorts.  Ready to rumble!

There is some chess involved in running races nowadays, due to the huge number of competitors.  There were only about 300 runners when I did my first event, a Crawfordsville (IN) Jaycees Half Marathon, in 1978.  There were about 2,000 half marathon competitors on the trail that day – and the Towpath Trail is a lot more narrow than the county roads around Ladoga that I ran on back in the ‘70s.  I chose to not go full speed for the first 1.5 to 2 miles, letting the crowd space out, and then to settle into a good stride after then. My first mile time was 9:30, and I completed the second mile at 18:15. I was feeling better as the race progressed, and I gradually picked up the pace.

I got comfortable as miles 4 and 5 went by, finding a steady running rhythm that matched my training runs. Music helped a lot. There were no Sony Walkman or Apple iPod devices back in 1978! I was also on a “home” course – the same Towpath Trail I had used for longer runs in my training, and nearly the same course I ran in 2013.

When I hit the halfway point in the run, the stopwatch read 57:05.  That was faster than my time at the halfway point in 2013! The hard work and preparation prior to the race seemed to be paying off. Thoughts of a 1:55 or better finish entered in my head.

That stopwatch time bolstered my confidence as the other runners and I passed an orange cone which marked the turnaround. I swung counterclockwise around the marker, feeling strong and sure that I had a good physical and mental state for the finish.

But with minutes of the turnaround, all was lost. Shortly after the turn, I began feeling a steady shooting pain, emanating from my upper right leg and penetrating into my lower back. It was powerful. It was non-stop. It was far worse than anything I had encountered in the nine weeks of running leading up to the half marathon. The pain was even worse than anything I’d ever felt before in running. It was agony.

I slowed down, but the pain persisted.  I stopped and walked. The pain got worse.  I trotted slowly.  The pain lessened (or so it seemed) but it was still there, still searing down my back and upper right leg with each and every step. I stopped and stretched the leg. I poured some water down my leg and back. I tried resuming the race. The pain just got progressively worse.

In my life, I’ve probably run 50-plus road races of varying distances. I’ve raced in Alaska and Indiana. I ran a 5K and a 10K race in Washington DC and Northern Virginia. I’ve run the Revco 10K (that was its name before it became the Cleveland Marathon/Half Marathon etc.) the Bees 5K, and more short- distance races than I can remember.

I never dropped out of a race … until October 11. There was no way I could finish. I left the course near Station Road in Brecksville. I was a little less than five miles from the finish line, but the checkered flag might as well have been on the moon. Only with great help from the race’s support team, employees of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was I able to get to the paramedics at the race, and then to my car for the most disappointing ride home in years.

Today, more than two weeks later, I’m still hobbling around. The diagnosis – sciatica, more precisely, inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It is NOT a simple-to-treat condition.

NEXT:  Lessons learned

Throwback Thursday – August 1978

October 22, 2015

(NOTE: This story appeared in the Crawfordsville Journal-Review in August 1978. Coming soon: an explanation about why I’m posting it.)

SOMEWHERE IN SOUTHEASTERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY – I still don’t know how I got conned into this.

It started three weeks ago when I was in Bloomington to see two college classmates run in the Monroe-Morgan 10-mile race. They’d heard about the Crawfordsville Jaycees holding a first-ever marathon and half marathon, and soon I had talked myself into running the 13.1 mile half marathon Sunday if they would, too.

john 1978

The author in ’78

People at Wabash had little faith in my ability to finish the race. Andy Anderson kept asking me if my affairs were in order and if my last will and testament was written. Brenda Amstutz merely questioned my sanity. Both Anderson and Amstutz placed friendly wagers on my run.

They weren’t the only ones either. They merely led the list of unfaithful. Fred Ford, Herman Haffner and Mike Reidy, who all planned to run the half marathon, had their doubts about me finishing the course alive. Even Don Sperry, who is about as nice as they come, had misgivings about my effort.

So I had no choice but to run.  I developed a training schedule and practice as hard as any hopelessly out of shape and overweight man in his early ‘20s should. I missed days, ran too few miles, and found myself more worried about the race as the day approached.

Of course my college friends never made it to the starring line: One took off to Maryland and the other stayed in Fort Wayne. Only the unbelievers were in the race with me to see what would happen.

The first half of the course was manageable. I ran with two late 20-ish men and we moved along in the middle of the 300-plus field.

We reached the 6.5 mile turnaround point on Ladoga Road where a burning ache appeared in my side. Then my legs changed to lead, and every step was like lifting concrete off the road. My breath went from a slow pant to a hoarse, rasping noise that would have scared rabbits from the neighboring farms.

I struggled on to eight miles, the furthest I had ever gone in training, and told my two running mates to leave me behind. In short order, Haffner, Sprerry and about 50 other runners passed my body, now half-walking, half-crawling to the finish line.

My legs went from lead to jelly, melting away with every step. Each breath came with great effort; my heart thumped like a jackhammer, and the hot sun wilted my willpower.  The winding, hilly course seemed to zap my already-waning strength.

It was useless. I walked. I ran – barely. I stopped. I walked some more. I couldn’t go on. “I won’t make it,” I thought. “They’ll have to carry me away.”

Somehow I reached the last aid station.  Just 2.5 miles to go! I drank some lemonade, dumped two glasses of water of my tiring body, and somewhere discovered the stamina to keep going.

Larry Grimes joined me for the last 1.5 miles. I completed the course in 152:20, just behind Haffner.

The feeling at the finish was terrific. I placed 236 out of about 300 runners, but that didn’t bother me. I made it, and Anderson and Amstutz will be providing me with a lunch and some liquid refreshment for my efforts.

I felt even better 15 minutes after my finish, when Mike Reidy came into the chute. I’d even managed to beat out one of my unbelievers!

Now that I’ve got blisters all over my feet and I’m looking for a pair of crutches, I can boast that I did it – and vow to never try it again.  Those guys and girls that can run 13.1 or 26.2 miles can keep their sore feet and aching bones.

When is next year’s marathon, Jaycees?  Sign me up.

What should we do on 9-11?

September 8, 2015
World Trade Center on 9-11. AP Photograph

World Trade Center on
9-11. AP Photograph

Where were you when the world stopped turning? To borrow singer-songwriter Alan Jackson’s line, a whole generation of Americans – millennials – have come of age since that horrific day when evil men reigned terror on this country. There are way too many media stereotypes of the 20-somethings living in mom and dad’s basement, and far too few accounts of the millions who have responded to these terrorist attacks by putting their own lives on the line for their country.

That’s right.  Since 9-11, more than 2.5 million Americans have volunteered to join our nation’s military branches of service. If you think “dumb” or “poor” when you consider those who volunteer, you’re the victim of another stereotype. More than 99 percent of today’s recruits are high school graduates.  About 10 percent of them have 15 or more credits in college before joining.

Service isn’t for everybody, and only a few are qualified. Health issues, a lack of education, and criminal records disqualify many who would like to serve.  “There are 30-some million 17- to 24-year-olds out there, but by the time you get … to those that are qualified, you’re down to less than a million young Americans,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Brilakis, the commander of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, earlier this year.

Pentagon damage photo by Tech Sgt Cedric Rudisill

Pentagon damage photo by Tech Sgt Cedric Rudisill

Military service also means sacrifice. We’ve seen the heart-tugging pictures and videos of reunions of families with a mom or dad absent due to deployments. In the years since 9-11, our armed forces have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as involved in peacekeeping or joint military activities in more than 50 different countries across the globe.  There are about 6,000 American who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan since November 2001.

So, what should we do on 9-11 this year?  Three things:

  • THANK A PROTECTOR: More than 400 of those who died on 9-11 were fire fighters, police officers and paramedics, responding to the inferno flames at the two World Trade Center towers.  Our safety forces make great sacrifices to protect us also.  Why not take some time and write a thank you letter – to a police officer, a fire fighter, or to a Marine, Army, Navy, Coast Guard or Air Force member.  Let them know you are appreciative of what they do. Make sure it is postmarked on 9-11 too!
  • VOLUNTEER: Since 9-11, Presidents Obama and Bush and our Congress have called upon Americans to remember that day by performing volunteer service. David Paine of PainePR came up with this idea just a few months after 9-11-01. Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans have committed to service.  Visit these sites:
  • PRAY: Here’s another line from that Alan Jackson song, Did you dust off that old Bible at home? On the screen at the end of the No. 1 movie at the box office in the U.S. this past weekend, “The War Room,” are these words from 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God hears the prayers of those who call upon Him.

Our nation needs all this from us as we approach the 14th anniversary of that terrible September day.


September 2, 2015

(NOTE — This also appears in the EYE ON CLEVELAND web site.)

CLEVELAND, September 2, 2015 -– If Donald Trump accepts the Republican Party’s nomination for President here on July 21, 2016, unhappy media executives and political pros will have only one place to look for an explanation – the mirror.

For the past few decades, U.S. governance has come under ever-increasing influence from the Political Media Complex, something which is far more dangerous than the Military Industrial Complex which Dwight Eisenhower warned us about back in 1961.

What is the Political Media Complex?

It is the alliance of media moguls with the interests of political leaders, especially the two major political parties, and the causes and corporations which feed both issues and funds into the election cycles.

One of the first to identify the Complex is the late Don Hewitt, who created CBS’ highly-acclaimed news program “60 Minutes.”  He directed the first Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate in 1960, an event which he described years later, as the night that politicians determined that they were made for each other: TV executives realized political campaigns had unlimited advertising dollars, and politicians realized that TV reached into everybody’s living room.

How big has this influence become?  According to the Federal Elections Commission, there was SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS spent in the 2012 election campaigns.  Big money influences the outcome of many elections, from the battle for the White House on down.

But it’s not just money, it is big issues also.  Many years after the Roe. V. Wade U.S. Supreme Court ruling making abortion legal, the organization Planned Parenthood decided to begin its own political action organization. According to the web site, Planned Parenthood’s Political Action Fund has raised more than $1 million in the 2004, 2012, and 2014 election years.  In the donations listed on the web site, 100% of contributions are to Democratic candidates and/or committees. (More about this later.)

On the “other side” is the National Rifle Association, which has spent $1.6 million or more in lobbying for 13 of the last 17 years, according to the Open Secrets web site. Planned Parenthood and the NRA are just two of thousands of organizations pouring money and influence into the political process.  You name the issue, from A to Z, and chances are hundreds of organization are lining up donors and using dollars to influence your legislators.

All of this plays into the Political Media Complex.

Little wonder that public opinion of government is at unprecedented low levels in recent history. The public distrusts its elected officials, and – what’s worse – no longer trusts the news media to be objective in its reporting either.

One of Donald Trump’s main campaign themes is that the current political system is broken. He’s right, and voters on the stump give him loud applause on that point in his speeches.  Other “nonpolitical” candidates Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are also picking up steam according to polls in advance of the first real presidential political test, the Iowa Straw Poll in early 2016.

(Aside – One could write thousands of words just on the role that the Political Media Complex is playing in Congress’ upcoming vote on the Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. No matter the vote’s outcome, the treaty will be put into effect. Donald Trump will gain politically when it happens.)

What’s really fascinating about the political process right now is that “Millennials” – young adults in their ‘20s and ‘30s – are increasingly turned off by the status quo of the Political Media Complex and are determined to do things differently, both politically and personally.  One survey shows that 55 percent of millennial adults would like to start their own business one day. They prefer a free-market economy over a government-managed economy by a 64%-to-32% ratio.  So these younger adults, many disaffected, are unlikely to back “traditional” candidates which the Political Media Complex favors, and far more likely to support candidates such as Trump, Carson or Fiorini.


When an “undercover” video at a Mitt Romney campaign event surfaced in September 2012 capturing Romney’s “47 percent” remark, that video and the resulting stories received 88 minutes of airtime on the news broadcasts of the three major networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS, in the month following the video’s release. When former NBA owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks became public in 2014, the three networks allocated 146 minutes of time to the story in the month following the remarks being made public. That’s more than two hours on the news.


The news stories about Romney and Sterling “fit” the narrative that the Political Media Complex was propagating at the time.

By contrast, the organization Center for Medical Progress has put out (as of this writing) eight “undercover” videos exposing illegal activities of the organization Planned Parenthood — with specificity, breaking the law by selling aborted babies’ body parts. The three major networks have devoted less than 75 SECONDS of airtime to this story in the first 30 days afterward, or just 0.008 percent of their total news minutes.

Why?  News stories about selling aborted baby parts don’t “fit” the Political Media Complex narrative.

Perhaps we’ll further examine the people and forces behind the Political Media Complex in a future blog, but the general public has come to understand that the news is NOT the news anymore.

Way back in 1926, the organization the Society of Professional Journalists developed a four-point code of ethics for the journalism profession. It exists to this day.

The first point – Seek the Truth and Report It.

The second point — Minimize Harm.

To many in the general public, media reporting in 2015 has become the complete antithesis of the journalism profession’s own ethics and standards. The electorate is fed up with the Political Media Complex.

That is why the words “Republican Party Nominee Donald Trump” are becoming more and more possible, with the beginning of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland now less than 300 days away.



August 18, 2015

As a new school year approaches, students are understandably curious about their professors.  Below, in less than 500 words, is a brief “statement of philosophy” which should help you do better both in your course and in your life.  It is six snippets of advice:
john half cropped

  1.  If you’re green, you’re growing. If you are ripe, you’re rotten.  We all need to practice continuous improvement in everything we do. Higher education teaching wasn’t my first profession. I’ve even joked about being an “accidental professor,” going from an adjunct (part-timer) in 2003-2004 and moving up the college professor ladder, slowly, step by step, over the past 12 years. I earned a certificate in college teaching, a second master’s degree, and a wealth of knowledge and experience about how to teach and how to motivate student learning in the past decade.  If a guy who’s nearly 60 can keep learning, you can too.
  2. You need a S.I.P. a self-improvement plan, for all areas of your life. Yes, academics are important.  So is taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Finances are important. Faith is important. Relationships are important.  So are family members and loved ones.  What’s your strategy to become better in all of these areas?  How do you carry out that strategy?
  3. We all have “other priorities” that can stop or change us.  I was studying for an Ed.D. degree (equivalent of a Ph.D.) at Kent State, but a challenging family issue arose. Now helping out my in-laws, who are about 90 years old and living in our home, is a higher priority.  Priorities — it depends on what’s really important.  In reality, it’s how far we come back AFTER suffering a setback or getting knocked down that really matters.  Watch this:
  4. If you are honest and transparent with me, you’ll never find a more caring professor dedicated to helping you succeed.  My former students have jobs and careers, working at places such as Great Lakes Publishing, WKYC Channel 3, the Cleveland Museum of Art, large public relations agencies, and NBC Universal in Hollywood. They got there through hard work, and through sharing their aspirations with me (and/or other professors).  I’ll go to great lengths to encourage my students and help them do well, if they put forth the effort.
  5. You have been created for something great — greater than you know right now. You want to have all the knowledge and preparation you can so when that opportunity for greatness arrives, you are ready to walk through that door to success.
  6. We ALL need challenges. It’s how we improve.  I’m training right now to run a half-marathon in October. (YES, I have a specific training program and a goal for this event on October 11.)  With God’s blessing, the favor and support of my wife, and some good fortune (meaning no accidents or setbacks), I’m confident I can complete the course and rise to the challenge.  I’ll be a better and healthier person as a result.  Challenge yourself this year.  You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of achieving.  “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

PRSA Tactics story, July 2015, Keeping the Peace

July 6, 2015

Below is a link to my July 2015 PRSA Tactics story.

Keeping the Peace

Keeping the Peace In Cleveland (P. II)

July 1, 2015

(BLOGGER ADDITIONAL COMMENT: This story appears in the July 2015 edition of the Public Relations Society of America publication TACTICS. There is a link to the onlne portion of the publication below. It was written before the tragic shootings in Charleston, SC, on June 17.  One final note — Rev. Rodney Maiden said in his interview that there are two justice systems in the U.S. — one for whites and one for blacks. Sadly, he’s right.)

Just weeks after devastating rioting and looting in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, it became Cleveland’s turn to take center stage in the growing national debate over police treatment of blacks

In November 2012, 62 Cleveland police vehicles went on a 20-minute high-speed chase after a car whose driver disobeyed a police pullover order. The car had two black occupants. The chase ended when numerous police cruisers stopped and surrounded the car, then 13 officers fired 137 bullets at the occupants, killing both. They turned out to be unarmed. One officer, Michael Brelo, was charged with manslaughter. In a four-week bench trial, Cuyahoga County Judge John P. O’Donnell found Brelo not guilty, despite his firing 15 shots into both suspects from the hood of the car after the chase had ended.

National news networks broadcast the verdict live on Saturday, May 23. Anticipating violent protests after the announcement, Cleveland Police mobilized and called in back-up from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Additional safety forces were on standby.

At nearby Mt. Zion Church, 800 people of all races were attending a Northeast Ohio Gridiron Men’s Conference. When event organizers heard that the verdict announcement was imminent, they immediately suspended the program and collectively prayed for peace in Cleveland.

“It was God’s timing,” says Rev. Rodney Maiden, senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church on Cleveland’s southeast side for the past 35 years. “(We) got on our knees and asked the Lord no matter what the verdict … don’t riot.”




National observers believed that by May 2015 Cleveland was trapped in race relations zugzwang, a German term meaning no matter what move the city made next, it would be worse off. Six months earlier, a 12-year-old black boy, Tamir Rice, was killed by Cleveland police officers responding to a 9-1-1 call. It turned out that Rice was wielding a toy gun. A month later, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced findings in a 21-month investigation into the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP), calling the CDP “structurally flawed.” Some of the DOJs conclusions included:

  • During encounters with citizens, CDP officers frequently used excessive force;
  • CDP officers were not trained properly on how to act in encounters with physically or mentally ill citizens; and
  • Cleveland failed to properly investigate and discipline officers who used excessive force

Over this template came riots in Ferguson, Mo., protests in New York over the chokehold death of Eric Gardner, excessive police force resulting in deaths of blacks in other cities, and then Baltimore.

Events in late May proved that Cleveland was different. Perhaps divine intervention helped. Certainly the city and its leaders benefited from excellent public relations counsel. Additionally, timing played a role in the public reaction.

“During early discussions, a weekend morning verdict was mentioned as a potentially good time because that’s when the fewest people would be downtown,” explained Darren Toms, Community Outreach Coordinator for Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. “A work-day announcement could have led to traffic jams and additional safety concerns. We did it on Memorial Day Weekend Saturday simply because the verdict was ready, and there was no reason to prolong it for another week.”

Additionally, the court system also closely coordinated with law enforcement and safety leaders as well as the Cleveland Municipal Court, which was responsible for processing of anyone who was arrested. “Having these groups on the same page was critical in the organization and reading of the verdict,” Toms added.

Additional factors helped make May 23 an even more opportune date. School was out, helping to prevent a repeat of the teen protests seen in Baltimore. The Cleveland Cavaliers  were home for the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and  superstar LeBron James, who called for justice in the Eric Gardner death, used his Twitter account to plea for peace. CDP allowed peaceful protests, but eventually arrested 71 people after a couple of the protesters turned violent.



“So much time had passed that much of that anger and passion of the moment had dissipated,” said Tom Beres, senior political correspondent at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, about the Brelo verdict. “Even though Cleveland had the same potential  brew of poverty, crime, hopelessness … and other conditions as a backdrop as Baltimore, the outcome was not the same outrage and violence.”

Beres added that Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson had been making extensive outreach efforts with community groups and clergy leaders such as Rev. Maiden. Street peacemaker groups also helped keep matters calm.


Two days later, on Memorial Day, media reports circulated that the DOJ and Cleveland had reached a consent decree addressing the CDP’s many flaws. Different players now took over as the national spotlight intensified on the city.

DOJ and Cleveland held a joint news conference to announce the agreement on May 26. Here the city benefitted from experienced hands. Dan Williams, Cleveland’s Media Relations Director, is a U.S. Army public affairs veteran who helped manage the Abu Ghraib crisis in 2003-2004. Additionally, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (similar to a chamber of commerce) called upon Dix & Eaton, a leading Cleveland public relations firm, to assist the city.

In the consent decree, which Chief U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. approved on June 12, Cleveland will make substantial changes in its CDP in six major areas. Three are:

  • Community engagement, including creation of a Community Police Commission to provide input on police policies, training, civilian oversight, and community engagement; and implementation of a comprehensive community and problem-oriented policing model to strengthen partnerships and solve problems;
  • Search and seizure practices and bias-free policing, including revision of policies and training to ensure that all stops and searches are Constitutional and take community values into account; tracking and analysis of interactions between the police and residents; community input into comprehensive training related to bias-free policing; and development of a recruiting plan which will attract a diverse group of applicants; and
  • Use of force practices, including revising policies and improving training and guidance on when and how officers may use force; strengthening systems for reviewing and investigating uses of force; and creating a Force Review Board to review serious uses of force.

(More details are at:

City of Cleveland sources told TACTICS that, although the timing with the Brelo verdict was coincidental, Cleveland leaders worked hard to achieve a comprehensive resolution of the CDP’s numerous flaws. This began when Mayor Jackson and Chief of Police Calvin Williams, both black, held a series of highly-publicized community town hall meetings in the months after the DOJ findings against the CDP.

“Our community relations board was active connecting with many groups, all talking about the same thing at the same time,” said one Cleveland source.  “There was a whole different atmosphere of two-way conversations going on, and then a lot of rolling up the sleeves and hard work to get the consent decree done.”

Dix & Eaton declined requests for interviews for this story.  “The professionals in the PR community in Cleveland are very strong and tuned into the city,” said Christian Hunter, APR, President of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of PRSA. “We take a lot of pride in our city and are very vocal about issues affecting it, so it’s no surprise we come together to help each other in challenging situations.”

Beres, who’s covered politics in Cleveland for more than 30 years, gave Mayor Jackson high marks for his insistence on both dealing with the CDP’s deficiencies and quickly achieving a consent decree. “The Mayor’s outreach (efforts) also paid dividends,” Beres added. “Mayor Jackson and his team are (now) talking to a lot of people out there, and leaders are being educated on what the decree will do.”

Rev. Maiden also applauded the settlement, with one huge caveat.  “What the DOJ did was unveil and reveal some things that most people in the community already knew,” he said. “A law cannot change a person’s heart, and there is a lot of skepticism in the African American community. Will the Police Department go back to business as usual, or are there going to be any major changes?”


Cleveland’s peaceful reaction to police treatment of blacks could change.  On June 11, Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald B. Adrine ruled that there was probable cause to indict two CDP officers in Rice’s death. “It will almost be a slap in the face of the community if they (the courts) don’t do anything about it (the Rice shooting),” Rev. Maiden said. “African Americans believe that we have two justice systems – one for whites and one for blacks.” He added that blacks are paying rapt attention to the case, seeking justice.

Additionally, Cleveland’s public relations community has room for improvement in racial diversity. A majority of the city’s population is black, but none of the Dix & Eaton personnel assisting the city with communications on the dissent decree were minorities. A quick survey of the area’s leading public relations firms found very little diversity among their employees.

“When thinking about what it takes to have a robust, well-rounded team, PR chapters should include points of view with a diverse perspective, “ says Larcine Bland, a diversity management consultant with Texas-based LLB Consulting.  Bland has worked for and helped to shape diversity initiatives for national retailers such as Dunkin’ Brands and 7-Eleven.

Bland adds PR firms and PR chapters should embrace diversity as an important value-added component, make diversity and inclusion top-down strategies, be intentional about inclusion, and build community contacts and diversity liaisons.

Link to Tactics:  PRSA Tactics

Link to USPR Network, of which Larcine Bland and I are members: USPR Network

Kerezy is associate professor of journalism/mass communications at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. He is also director of crisis, governmental & political communications for the Unified Strategies Public Relations Network.


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