A Decade of The PRDude. Really

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The question many — including myself — may ponder is this: Why continue to publish the PRDude blog, now in its tenth year?

After 10 years and 432 posts, I sometimes ask that question of myself.

A simple answer includes these components:

  • Because I can.
  • Because I enjoy it.
  • Because I still have something to say.

Want more? Here are some general thoughts.

If my day gets off to a rocky start, sometimes I revisit one of the more than 400 posts offered by the PRDude over the past 10 years.

What I’ve Learned: The public relations profession has evolved dramatically from a media relations-focused practice to one that incorporates integrated communications. The change was mostly driven by technology. That’s not a revolutionary observation, but one that should continue to remain at the forefront. That means there’s lots to comment on.

A Personal Perspective: I have remained steadfast and passionate about the value and practice of sound, ethical public practice.  That will never waiver. Publishing this blog provides a medium to defend instances where the profession is misrepresented, often equated with propaganda.

Favorite Posts: Don’t have kids, but we have cats. I love them both the same; and, I have the same perspective about the posts published here over the past decade. But this post from 2010 about my “alter ego” still resonates just a little more. More recently, I’ve enjoyed sharing thoughts on my pursuit of my Master’s degree in English.

What’s Needed:  I plan to (someday) finish adding categories to past posts.  And, I might consider changing the theme, or finding a way to monetize The PRDude blog. Hey, back in 2013 I made an offer to sell out! (I would still entertain reasonable offers.)

To conclude, I thank all who have read, commented and shared my thoughts these past 10 years. Stick around for the next 10.

A final thought: I had planned to publish this post yesterday, September 11, 2019.  We all know the significance of that date and what took place. Out of respect I held off.  But my thoughts on 9/11 can be found in this post from September 11, 2011 — 10 years after the terrorist attacks. I hope and pray I don’t have to write about those memories again.

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“That’s Ireland,” The Nation in Images

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Of course, you would expect images of the Emerald Isle to show lots of green. And, indeed, we saw many verdant places on our trip, from city parks to pastures to seaside cliffs.

In this “part two” post of our trip to Dublin and parts beyond, you’ll see lots of green; but you’ll also get a perspective on the culture of Ireland and its people. (Here’s the link to “part one,” which has some images but more insight.)

Below are images of places you’d expect — pubs, the coastline, castles — and places you might not expect — a notorious prison and the outside of a discount store. But collectively, they represent the Ireland we encountered over nine days travelling by foot, bus, train and streetcar.

On a walk to the DART Sandymount station, I noticed a plaque on this handsome home. Looking closer, I learned it’s the boyhood home of famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

The Clayton Ballsbridge Hotel, built as an orphanage in 1881, was our home base. Lots of character and history.

The Dublin Horse Show was attended by thousands over its four-day run. Even non-equestrians would have been impressed.

The history of Ireland has its dark, dark sides, too. Here’s the inside of the Kilmainham Gaol, a prison built in 1796. It housed men, women and even children over the centuries. Now it’s a museum, and U2 filmed a video there.

Of course, there are lots and lots of cool pubs in Dublin. And, like this one in Temple Bar, they’re easy to find. Not sure whether the guy at bottom left wanted to be in the frame.

 

 

 

 

Sincerely doubt this was named after me. And, we not stop in for a pint. Bet I would have been treated like royalty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seaside town of Howth had lots of waterfront to explore, a tremendous old church and castle and, of course, great pubs. But my favorite part was the cliffs.

 

 

 

 

Of course I had a pint of Guinness while in Ireland. The one depicted here was hoisted during an awesome lunch of seafood chowder and crab claws in Howth.

Yes, Ireland has some spectacular castles. This one is in Malahide, a charming town along the coast. As you can ascertain, this is a real castle.

Not to diminish this more modest structure we saw in Dalkey. It’s a castle, all right. But more of a “starter” castle.

One day, we visited Belfast in Northern Ireland, still part of the United Kingdom. Yes, they’re on the British pound. This retailer is akin to our Dollar General.

The Crown Liquor Saloon (or the Crown Bar) is a Belfast treasure and part of the National Trust. Susan would concur: You will not find a cooler drinking establishment anywhere.

Looking west on May Street, Belfast does exude its British heritage. Those towers sit atop City Hall, which has a museum devoted to the city’s artists and statesmen and women.

On our visit to Galway, we encountered outstanding buskers or street musicians, like this guy, in the Latin Quarter. Look close and you’ll find Chicago among the sister cities listed on the mural.

A stroll through Galway had its magical moments. And, a visit to a local pub seemed to enhance the experience. Hey, we were in Ireland!

Galway’s a coastal town along the Atlantic Ocean. Caught a glimpse of these vessels at low tide.

 

On our final day in Ireland, I found solace and solitude along this beach in Malahide. No surfers or sun bathers, just sky, water and sand.

“That’s Ireland.” Recalling the Land, the People and More

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

When questioned about the often spirited revelry that lasted well into the morning during the Saturday of the 2019 Dublin Horse Show, the manager of our hotel responded succinctly, honestly and effectively: “That’s Ireland.”

Attending the Dublin Horse Show, reportedly one of the top three equestrian events in the world, truly was a highlight of our trip.

Those two words encapsulated the recent visit by Susan and I to the island nation — specifically the capital city of Dublin as well as day trip visits to other cities and small coastal towns. The Ireland we experienced was a place of warmth and genuine hospitality, and the people we encountered were welcoming and truly enjoyed celebrating. And, as noted, sometimes the celebration lasted long into the night.

What follows are memories in the ongoing effort by The PRDude to share in words and pictures what was experienced and perhaps not found in a guidebook during our visits to new places around the United States and other parts of the world.

The People. From the man at the airport who helped us find our shuttle bus, to bartenders and servers at the many pubs we visited, to the guy on the DART platform who assured me I was taking the right train to Sandymount, virtually everyone we encountered in Ireland was cordial, giving and open. Casual encounters evolved into conversations. The Irish people are truly among its strengths.  Where else do people regularly thank the bus driver?

A visit to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells is recommended. Get there by 9 am to avoid the lines.

The Outlook. On a DART train ride to the fishing village of Howth, I looked to the east as the train passed over the River Liffey and through the Dublin city centre.  To the east I counted 28 construction trains; in other parts of the city, there were more.  Clearly the Celtic Tiger economy has rebounded. Dublin and other cities in Ireland are desirable and vital places, however, housing prices are soaring. Rental housing in the very upscale Ballsbridge neighborhood near our hotel, the Clayton Ballsbridge, are steep by any means, with some two-bedroom units listed at 4,000 euros.

The Countryside. Dublin, with its crooked streets, shops and pubs, street musicians and vitality, was delightful. But we wanted to see other parts of Ireland. So we traveled by train to the medieval city of Galway on the west coast, and headed up north to Belfast in Ulster or Northern Ireland. En route, we were charmed by the undulating — and yes, very green — landscape along the Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) routes to these cities. Every few miles there would be a small farm with what looked like very happy cows and goats. This was storybook stuff, unadulterated and real. Wish we could have spent time there.

The Customs House, an impressive edifice along the River Liffey, makes for a great photo.

The Language. Yes, the Irish speak English, but with an accent. And, some train messages and signage was in Gaelic — which is not at all like English!  But we picked up on some words and sayings we found fascinating. Note this list, then think of what they would mean here in America. Scroll to the bottom for answers.

  • To Let
  • Brolly/Umbrie
  • Clamping
  • Crisps
  • Mind the Gap

You may have wondered about whether we enjoyed the pubs and music.  Did we tour castles.  Oh yes.  Watch for the pictures in an upcoming travelogue post. But first, I was inspired early during our trip to compose this poem:

Dublin Rain

Cascades like a fond memory

When you can’t expect to find shelter

Somewhere on Grafton Street.

We laughed under an awning

Knowing we could make St. Stephen’s Green

Embraced by all that would not leave us wanting or caring.

Subtle bursts of blue skyward

Are somewhat welcomed, then summarily dismissed

Because you rarely hear Dublin rain and it’s not invisible.

We lingered longingly after the farewell encounter,

Hoping and envious for a reappearance

Somewhere on the next crooked, cobblestoned street

Now, for the answers:

  • To Let — To rent or lease. Think of “sublet.”
  • Brolly/Umbrie — We watched to see people were carrying these — umbrellas.
  • Clamping — Better not park your car illegally. You’ll get the boot.
  • Crisps — Otherwise known as potato chips — only the ones in Ireland were better.
  • Mind the Gap — Be careful when departing a train, otherwise you might fall into the gap between the car and station.

One more thing: Should you visit greater Dublin, take the DART south toward Bray and get off at Dalkey. This quiet town boasts many fine establishments, including Finnegan’s.  A source told us none other than Bono frequents this classic pub.  We looked in the window during our visit, but no sign of the U2 frontman.

A reason to return.

Finding Solace on This Day in America

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The music from this trio helped me cope with the tragedies that took place in two American cities.

Grappling with the horrific news from El Paso, then Dayton, I sought some way to find consolation on this glorious, sunny summer day in early August.

My decision was simple: Walk and think.  And, seek out something here in our Chicago neighborhood that would provide some kind of comfort, some kind of remedy for the anguish I felt at yet another unconscionable action in America.

My stroll took me along Milwaukee Avenue, a thoroughfare reflecting the changes in Logan Square, now home to modern apartment towers and upscale restaurants.

Observing the new business and edifices along this once utilitarian street helped take my mind off the carnage I saw on television reports.

I made my way to the popular Logan Square Farmer’s Market, one of the largest and most vibrant in the city. Enjoying a coffee and the always-packed New Wave Coffee adjacent to the Farmer’s Market, here’s what I witnessed: Patrons purchasing vegetables and artisan wares, couples holding hands, couples walking dogs, people lining up to purchase tacos.

In essence, life continuing.

Making my way toward the main row of vendors on the Logan Boulevard parkway, I enjoyed a few songs from a trio performing Americana roots music. Their sound was inviting, genuine and uncluttered.

For a while, I forgot about what I learned from television news reports Saturday and this morning.

I walked home feeling relieved and in a better state of mind.

Back in 2012, I commented on the mass shooting of teachers and kids in Connecticut. At that time, I predicted this gun-driven madness would probably happen again.

Oh, how I wish I was wrong.

 

But What About Bikes? Three Cycling Actions That Need to Be Deflated

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Driven in part (every pun intended) by the readership of the June 27 PRDude post offering strategies for the new Chicago electric scooter pilot program, I was prompted to address a similar topic: Thoughts on that other two-wheeled/non-motorized personal mobility mode — the bicycle.

Here, I put the focus on what I believe are three improper and downright dangerous cycling practices that need to be eliminated.

But first, a little history.

From the images that accompany this post, you can deduct that I am a cyclist. Not a daily bike commuter, just a weekend and sometimes-after-work cyclist. The road bike pictured here is a Raleigh Grad Prix I purchased with the money earned working at the Bravco health and beauty aids store in the early 1970s.

I obtained this 23.5 inch cycle from Turin Bicycles, which then was located on Clark Street in Lincoln Park.  I recall the price was $115. It’s still a sweet machine and all original except for the seat, fork, gears, tires and rims.  Okay, so the frame, brakes and handle bars are still original. But I have very fond memories of the miles logged on this bike, even the falls that resulted in a broken nose, a broken wrist and large gash on my right shin.

Now to my suggestions.

Here, I’ve identified three cycle actions that need to be discontinued for the betterment of cyclists, as well as pedestrians, motorists and society in general.

  1. The Overly-Connected Rider.  There’s a time and place to check that email, Instagram or Pintrest account. Riding a bicycle is not one of them.  What would compel a cyclist — or a motorist for that matter — to divert attention to a hand-held device while riding around town is beyond puzzling. It’s downright dangerous. Furthermore, the practice is stupid. If you need an incentive to put that handheld away while cycling, consider this: It’s illegal to talk on the phone or text while bicycling and the penalty is $20-$500.
  2. “Look Ma, No Hands!” Yes, it may appear really cool to ride with no hands, but only until you need to brake or swerve to avoid a pothole or another road impediment or getting “doored.”  I’ve witnessed “no hands” cyclists peddling along quiet side streets and busy arterial thoroughfares like Western Avenue. And, I’ve observed a “hybrid” of sorts: The no-handed rider engaged with a handheld.  Why is this practice considered acceptable?
  3. Put the Brakes on Fixies. As I understand it, a fixed-gear or “fixie” bicycle has no freewheel component — meaning one can’t coast on a fixie. And, some lack brakes.  Let me repeat: Some fixed gear bikes don’t have hand brakes, requiring the rider to skid to come to a stop. Please explain how this type of cycle, which is designed for a velodrome, should be allowed on a public right-of-way.

If fellow cyclists need to refresh safe cycling practices, the Illinois Secretary of State produced this excellent “Bicycle Rules of the Road” document.

On this spectacular Sunday in Chicago, we’re planning to hitch our bikes to the car rack and bike one of the North Shore trails. Will be alert for a no-handed cyclist on a fixie checking his or her handheld.

 

 

 

 

One Image, One Question: July 19, 2019

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Oh, what a difference five-plus months and 120 degrees can make.

At the beginning of this year, I published this post on January 30 as a way to chronicle the outbreak of dangerous cold that settled in Chicago and much of the central part of the nation.

The view from our back porch looks somewhat inviting, despite the sweltering weather.

Today, we’re at the other end of the weather spectrum: An excessive heat warning that started today and lasts until Saturday night, when storms will smash the oppressive temperatures and humidity.

As I write this, it’s 94 degrees outside and heat index is in the low triple digits. I went for a short walk and, rest assured, man, it’s hot out there.

Government officials and the media repeatedly issued warnings about the dangers of the sweltering weather. There are still memories of the three-day heat wave of July 1995, when some 700 — mostly elderly in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods — perished; they died because there was no one there to help, to look in on fellow human beings in need.

Lacking central air conditioning, we get by with window units, ceiling fans and lots of cold liquids.

Now to the question: What does “heat” sound like?

Puttering in our yard, shown in the image above, I heard birds, a few footsteps, loud autos at times, the wind rustling in the trees and not much else.  I think most of our neighbors are wisely limiting outdoor activity this afternoon. To me, heat “sounds” like tranquility, as long as you can find shade and perhaps a little breeze.

Like my January post during the polar vortex, weather — certainly extreme weather — does have a profound impact on people. I’m encouraged to learn that cooling centers — county and public buildings — will remain open through Saturday night.

Of course, we may not move as fast or exert ourselves on hot days, but we continue on with life, knowing relief will come soon.

 

All Public Relations Professionals Should Read This Post

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Have plans for this weekend? Want something fascinating — but sobering — to read?

Let me suggest the 2019 IPR Disinformation in Society Report.  

Image courtesy of the Institute for Public Relations.

Certainly, this study, published by the Institute for Public Relations, is not a traditional page-turner or as compelling as a work of fiction or a celebrity biography.  But, if you’re a public relations professional, or if you care about the state and direction of modern American society, you should allocate time to read this provocative document.

Full disclosure: I have not read the full Report, but I will.  I did read the nine key findings presented and gained validation from some for what I have perceived to be significant problems today: Misinformation is detrimental to the nation; President Donald Trump is the leading proponent of spreading lies; false social media are the prime culprits for erroneous communication.

But I did advance personal understanding in a few other areas: A high percentage of Americans seek out other sources to confirm truth and accuracy; and family, cohorts and friends are the most trusted sources of information.

The Public Relations Society of America, of which I am a long-standing member, acknowledged the IRP report in this statement.  I wholeheartedly concur with PRSA. Dissemination of accurate and truthful information is the foundation of modern public relations, and it’s the ethical responsibility of PRSA members to adhere to this practice.

In this space, I’ve addressed disinformation/misinformation/false truth/lies/fabrication/fake news (or what ever term is appropriate or popular) frequently. Regarding President Trump, I’ve addressed his penchant for lying and fabricating facts and beliefs in a post published in May of 2016 and in another post published two days after his November 2016 election victory.

Want to gain a better perspective? The Washington Post maintains this database of “false or misleading” claims made by the President.

Back to the IPR report. The study does not offer solutions on how to end or even curtail the unfettered propagation of false information. But it keeps the conversation alive and at the forefront of conversation today.

That’s where it should be.