What I Took Away from PRSA 2018 Assembly

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

DATELINE: AUSTIN, TX.

Thought I would incorporate that now bygone phrase and practice as a way to provide a “newscast” kind of perspective to the following, a post about what I learned and observed as a delegate at the 2018 PRSA Assembly on October 6.

Like any organization comprised of passionate, strong-willed individuals, there was often spirited debate during the 2018 PRSA Assembly.

The gathering of Public Relations Society of America leadership, staff and members earlier this month is the Society’s one day to have delegates present thoughts and cast ballots on how PRSA is governed. As this was only my second time as a delegate, I took my responsibility seriously.

(A disclaimer: Please excuse the delay in sharing this post as three things got in the way: Work, school and life.)

Without precedence, here are a few thoughts I scribbled during my time at the Assembly.

Ready, Set, Debate: From a parliamentary perspective, the Assembly opened with a debate on how to debate: Specifically, the time allowed for delegates to address the big issues on the agenda — proposed Bylaw changes.  (More coming up.) Some found this a poor use of time; I found it a reflection of the passion some members have for PRSA and its future.

State of the Society: In his remarks, 2018 PRSA Chair Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, cited accomplishments made by the Society, including growth in diversity and advocacy issues; but he cautioned that the profession itself was “losing market share” in the communications arena due to factors like apathy and “free stuff” — digital resources. Millennials, he noted, find some forms of governance (like PRSA) irrelevant.

The Bylaw Debate: Prior to the Assembly, five proposals were made to amend existing Bylaws; learn more from this report published in June, but the focus was on ethics. I’ll refrain from much commentary. I had to depart to catch my flight home and missed some of the debate on the Bylaw proposals; however, I provided my proxy decisions to colleagues from PRSA Chicago. Two of the five amendments passed. During his remarks, Mr. D’Angelo noted that the issues were not relevant to the challenges facing the Society. But from this perspective, I’m glad PRSA gives members the opportunity to undertake changes to the way the Society is governed.

APR “Self-Improvement” Project: Of course, I had to comment on news shared that relates to the Accredited in Public Relations credential. What I learned is that there are plans to institute modules in the APR program, award “badges” to candidates, allow for online Panel Presentations and launch an online mentor match benefit. Good — no great — news.  More needs to be done to encourage professionals to seek Accreditation; more needs to be done to keep the credential a vital factor in the growth and development of public relations professionals today.

Other things learned: PRSA has developed a Speakers Bureau database, the Society is on good financial standing, membership (21,550 as of this month) has been static but is trending upwards, and there’s a new Strategic Plan being crafted.  I look forward to following these and other developments in the months to come.

But a final thought on the Assembly: PRSA will only be as vital to public relations as its members contribute to the way the Society functions and the profession is perceived in society.  After leaving Austin, I’m encouraged by the future.

 

 

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The PRDude Reaches Another Plateau: Post 400

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

This question has left me in a quandary the past several days: What should be the focus of this post — the 400th published here on the PRDude blog?

Perhaps a retrospective of my “favorite” post over the past (could it really be that long?) nine years? No, who really cares, and I think I’ve already written a post on that topic, somewhere back in the 200 or 300 post library.

Announce some new feature or improvement?  Well, I’ve started to categorize posts, but that job will take a little longer than anticipated.  But stay tuned.

Image courtesy of Geo G Wiki.

Or, maybe a list of the “best 400 moments” in the public relations profession? Of course, this is absurd and who determines what’s “best” in any subject or genre?  (Actually, I addressed this topic with a post way back in 2013.)

So, I’ll take the safe and easy road on this journey:

Appreciation. A sincere thank you to all who have read, commented and shared PRDude posts. Please continue to absorb my thoughts and perspectives, and please share this blog within your network.

Supporting Public Relations. And, a mention that next week I’ll join hundreds of public relations colleagues from across the nation in Austin, Texas at the Public Relations Society of America 2018 Assembly, which precedes the International Conference.

Regarding the latter, I’ll be representing PRSA Chicago, where I serve on the Board of Directors and chair the Accreditation Committee.

For those who follow the workings of PRSA, there’s been a rather “spirited” (emphasis intentional) debate underway related to existing PRSA Bylaws. This topic is on the agenda for the Assembly October 6.

I’ll reserve any thoughts or comments on the Bylaw proposals — which address ethics, a foundation of PRSA and public relations — until I return from the Assembly.

But speaking of ethics, earlier this month I published an article through my LinkedIn account:Leadership in Defending Misrepresentation of ‘Public Relations.'” The premise of my article centers on the need for members of PRSA, especially those who hold the Accredited in Public Relations credential, to address instances where the profession is misrepresented — often equated with propaganda.

Why?  Because the Advocacy component of the PRSA Code of Ethics requires members to be “responsible advocates for those we represent.” I interpret that provision as being at the vanguard for correcting erroneous references to “public relations.”

Thanks again, and watch for post #401 soon.

Honoring an American Worker This Labor Day 2018

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

Throughout the summer months, the man in this photo brings refreshment — and certainly a little bit of joy — to people in our Avondale neighborhood and beyond.

His name?

I don’t know; but when I hear the sound of bells breaking the silence of an afternoon, I frequently race out of the house to purchase a few lime, mango or strawberry frozen treats. Given his weathered face and hands, it’s apparent that this American worker logs a long day.

This American Worker more than likely will be on the job this Labor Day.

On a bike ride earlier this summer, I witnessed the man with his cart a good mile-plus north of our home. He is employed by the Paleteria Arco Iris, a shop located a few blocks north of us on Belmont Avenue. In researching this post, I learned that a paleteria is an “ice lolly vendor,” and a paleta is a Mexican ice pop.

We’ve purchased frozen bars from the store in the past, but I prefer to get mine from this man, who’s always very cordial, always very welcoming. His job is simple: Stroll the sidewalks and sell a little happiness for $1 or $1.50.  Yes, he performs this task with dogged persistence and pride.

Too often, we only recognize those titans of the American workforce — those women and men who make headlines or have jobs deemed important or vital to the economy or society. Often, those performing the menial or less-skilled jobs frequently fall under the proverbial radar.

So, on Labor Day 2018, I offer a salute to the Paleta Man, who assuredly will be on his rounds today, and to all American workers who are unheralded or forgotten.

Later, I will listen for the sound of the bells, signaling happiness in the form of a flavorful frozen treat. And, I will savor the ice pop, knowing that with the decline of summer days, the Paleta Man will be done for the season.

* * *

Labor Day posts have been published on the PRDude blog over the years.  Here are a few:

 

 

Marvelous, Madcap Munich: Words and Pictures

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

Where to start with an account of our recent trip to Germany’s third-largest city?

First, words about Munich, the Bavarian capital and gateway to the Alps.  Here are some random thoughts jotted down in my journal.

Outside the Munich visitors center in the heart of Altstadt.

Overall Impressions:  Munich is a thoroughly modern metropolis with much of its centuries-old architecture and history intact. It’s a multicultural place, also very orderly and remarkably clean, especially given the throngs of people strolling its streets and plazas. Church towers, especially the twin domed spires of the Frauenkirche, dominate the skyline rather than modern office buildings. Quiet places, like small, well-maintained parks, were easy to find.  People were respectful — most didn’t even jaywalk! While in Munich, this Chicago guy knew he was in a much, much different place.

Beverage and Food:  Yes, there is beer available everywhere — in the famous bier gartens, in restaurants, in the outstanding Viktualienmarkt outdoor market and in the Hauptbahnhof train station. The beer tastes really good; but we also sampled wines from Germany and nearby Italy, and many venues featured gin-focused cocktails. And, we certainly dined on sausages and kraut, and enjoyed snacks of big pretzels.  All were delicious, but some of our best meals were had in Italian restaurants or outdoor venues. A highlight: Braised beef with fresh vegetables, whitefish and sausages with goat cheese at an outdoor wine festival in the Odeonsplatz.  We also favored soups from a vendor in the Viktualienmarkt.

Transportation: As a transportation guy, I found Munich’s public transit network of UBahn, SBahn, trams and buses exceptionally clean, safe, whisper-quiet, fast and reliable, although navigating the system required thought and patience.  Munich transit operates on the honor system: There are no turnstiles at the subway stations, and tram and bus operators don’t ask for a pass or ticket. (Better buy one, as it’s a 60 Euro fine if you’re caught.)  We traveled using a day pass that cost 12.8 Euros for the day — for both of us.  And, then there’s bikes; Munichers take their biking seriously and travel on bike lanes installed between the sidewalk and street.  Most ride well-equipped cycles with fenders, lights, racks and bells. I did not see a hipster-favored fixie while in Munich.  Motorized vehicles leaned sharply (as you’d expect) toward German manufactured-cars and trucks, especially BMWs.

The Outdoor Spaces:  As noted, there are plenty of green spaces between the 18th and 19th century plazas within most neighborhoods of Munich. But two stand out for their size and prominence. One day, we took the the UBahn to the Olympia Park, site of the 1972 Summer Games.  We visited the impeccably-maintained grounds, with its iconic space needle-like tower, on a flawless Sunday afternoon while a carnival was underway. From an outdoor bar near the site’s lake, we enjoyed our drinks while people boated or piloted paddle boards along the shoreline. At the nearby BMW Museum, we fantasized over gleaming sedans and sports cars. Getting back on the UBahn, we made our way to the Englische Garten — Munich’s large urban park. This is an example of an urban oasis that works:  Harmony of man and nature, with walking and biking paths, a river with waterfalls, vast open spaces, stands of trees and — you guessed it — a beer garden!  On our visit, we were serenaded by a traditional German band while enjoying our beverages.  Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of our Sunday in the park: Everyone was respectful, everyone was courteous.

The Day Trips: As much as we enjoyed Munich and its environs, we ventured on three day trips, using the Deutsche Bahn regional train system; like the local service in Munich, these trains were an outstanding value, comfortable and set-your-watch-on-time reliable. Our first excursion took us to Nuremburg, a walled medieval city around a two-hour ride north.  En route, we enjoyed vistas of farms and small towns. Upon arrival, we strolled through a gate and were enthralled by the charm of this city, bombed heavily during World War II, but remarkably restored. Susan was fascinated by the small shops, including one operated by a toy maker. Another day, we ventured east to Saltzburg, home of Mozart and flanked by the Alps, a river and lots of natural beauty. This Baroque gem in nearby Austria is defined by music, as one would expect. Unfortunately, we missed a classical performance, but enjoyed modern interpretations of songs by the Foo Fighters and Tom Petty at an outdoor festival. The views from the 900-year-old Hohensaltzburg Fortress  were truly breathtaking.  And, less than an hour away lies Augsburg, an historic smaller city that was founded by the Romans.  Augsburg was surprisingly cool and compact, with buses and trams that led us to the Fuggerei, the oldest housing settlement for the poor, the home of Mozart’s father and the most spectacular church I’ve ever entered — the Cathedral of St. Mary.

I could go on, but I encourage you to visit marvelous, madcap Munich. I’m sure you’ll cultivate memories that will endear long after you return home.

And, now, some pictures.  I’ve just selected a dozen. But visit my Facebook page to view more.

The Marienplatz blended people, history, modern retail, street music, and more — but no cars.

The Theatine Church on the Odeonplatz, one of many houses of worship within Munich.

While we failed to take in a classical performance, we enjoyed the musical stylings of street performers.

The freeway near the Olympic Park did not at all resemble the highways I’m used to driving.

The twin towers of the Frauenkirche are visible from many points throughout Munich. For us, they served as a point of reference.

Ah, if I only had access to a kitchen. Produce available at the Viktualienmarkt.

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music.” The view of Saltzburg from the Fortress.

The grand garden of the Nymphenburg Palace, the summer get-away for the Bavarian royalty. Not too shabby for a summer place.

A tranquil view of the river in Nuremburg. Hard to believe much of this city was destroyed; glad it was rebuilt.

Preparing to board a UBahn, or perhaps and SBahn.

Revelers at a street fair in the Sedlinger Tor neighborhood of Munich.

Prelude to our final meal in Munich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Question Posed in a Song Written a Long Time Ago

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

For decades, music has been a big part of my life.

I’ve played guitar and sung (arguably with relative competence) for some 50 years, at home, with the band Love House and during music classes.

For more than a dozen years, I contributed articles and reviews to music-based publications, most notably the Illinois Entertainer.

And, I’ve composed my own music.

Starting in the 1980s, I’ve written lots of rock, pop and blues songs, some 70 that I still have lyrics to and can remember the melody line.

The lyrics to the song within this post is especially poignant today.

Yes, I still love rock and roll and all that goes with it — the freedom, the expression, the emotions. But over the years, my personal musical pallet has embraced bluegrass, Western swing, jazz and even classical.  (Still can’t grasp opera, but can appreciate the work and talent involved.)

“Will I Still Be Rockin’ at 63” was written in 1985 or thereabouts.  I probably recorded this composition with my now-gone but well-used Tascam Portastudio, a marvel in audio engineering at the time, as it allowed unschooled enthusiasts like me a platform to record voice, guitar, drums and keyboards on a multiple track cassette tape machine, then mix the sounds to two-track.

In those days, arranging and recording songs in my apartment on Chicago’s northwest side, I felt akin to Todd Rundgren. It was just me, my instruments and gear, and my music.

Back in day, I first scribbled the lyrics to a song on a yellow legal pad or sheet of paper, then typed out the final version on my then trusty Smith Corona manual. These days, I still initially scribble lyrics to songs on paper. For some reason, I kept both the original handwritten and printed versions of this song.

 

Copyright, Edward M. Bury, August 2018.

As for the melody to this composition, perhaps I’ll record it the modern way — digitally of course — and post on my YouTube channel.

As for the question posed in the song, I guess I have 364 more days to determine the answer.

Time Unplugged: Perhaps the Best Part of Summer 2018 Vacation

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

It’s the third week of August of 2018, and this is the first post of the PRDude blog.

Wonder why?

Striking a somewhat pensive pose before boarding Lufthansa flight 434 to ORD.

Well, from the attached image showing a pending flight from a foreign nation — and my somewhat disheveled and unshaven appearance — perhaps you ascertain that I have a solid reason for not contributing thoughts on public relations and other stuff: I’ve been away from Chicago.

Munich, the capital of Bavaria and a truly fascinating German city, has been my abbreviated home the past several days.

As you can expect, I’ll contribute a few “travelogue” posts on our vacation to this historic city, known for its culture, architecture, museums, parks and public spaces, food and — you guessed it — beer gardens, or more precisely biergartens.  (Yes, we visited a few.)  Along with our time in Munich, Susan and I boarded the local trains for day trips to Nuremburg, Saltzburg and Augsburg, fascinating destinations of their own.

But along with the sights, people, places and atmosphere, all enjoyable, enlightening and full of personal enrichment, one of the best aspects of our Summer of 2018 trip was this: I basically unplugged from digital communications.

Well, I sent a few emails from the hotel computer and kept up on how my Chicago Cubs were faring in this pivotal month of the 2018 Major League Baseball season.  But I stayed off of work email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. (Just realized that I really don’t use Instagram much anyway.)

My handheld spent its time in the hotel safe, and it still worked when we got back to Chicago last night.

For more than a week, I was able to experience marvelous Munich and its surroundings untethered to technology, free from the now incessant and seemingly unrelenting bombardment of instantaneous news, information and stimuli, now part of the world as we know it.

While many around me snapped selfies with centuries-old structures in the background, I just soaked in the charm of Munich. I not only plan to follow this unplugged vacation regimen during the next pleasure trip out of town, and hopefully on many, many days in between.

 

 

What Reading Moby Dick Taught Me About Life Today

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

By tomorrow, I will have finished reading one of the most heralded works of fiction in the annuals of American literature. For the past month of so, I’ve taken on Herman Melville’s monumental classic, Moby Dick, otherwise titled, The Whale.

Being engaged in a masterpiece like Moby Dick compels the reader to focus on one body of work.

As for my critique, that may happen in some form later this year, after I complete the next course in my “quest” (felt it appropriate to use such a superfluous noun, given the plot of the aforementioned book) for my Master’s degree in English. Upcoming this Fall: “English 507 Theory, Rhetoric, Aesthetics: Unthinking Signification.”

Taking on a novel, or any voluminous fiction or non-fiction work the size and scope of Moby Dick requires dedication and patience. The hardcover University of California Press edition I’m reading spans 577 pages and includes some informative illustrations of ships, big fish and the men who sail the ships in order to hunt big fish.

Furthermore, Melville’s prose is not what I would rank as “light reading.” Symbolism aside, this is serious, yet compelling, prose, as detailed in this passage from Chapter 42, “The Whiteness of the Whale:”

“But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and from more portentous — why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay the very veil of the Christian’s Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things most appalling to mankind.”

Someday, my prose may be this good. Someday. Maybe.

Now, let me direct this conversation to what reading Moby Dick has taught me about one aspect of life today. On my weekday commute on the CTA Blue Line, I observe fellow passengers and ascertain that they would not have the patience to read a novel, especially not a gargantuan work like Moby Dick. Most fellow passengers, not all, ride handheld in hand, dexterously swiping between Pinterest and texts, Facebook and Candy Crush Saga.

Do these folks — young and old — read novels or other long-form literature?  Will they ever? Will a significant number people from future generations only absorb information through images and videos, subheads and captions, texts and instant messages? And, perhaps more vitally, will they ever learn to savor reading a masterwork without responding to an incoming digital message?

Without question, psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists are studying this relatively modern phenomenon. Assuredly, there are plenty of options for conducting primary research, beyond the Blue Line el.

Now, as noted, I still have a few chapters to go. So, please don’t respond with the fate of Ahab, Ishmael and my favorite character Queequeg — much less the big white whale.

Of course, I could quickly consult my handheld and have the answer.  But, nawh! I prefer to savor and learn, page by page.