What Drove the Surge in “Small Town Wisconsin” Post?

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

Since this humble blog was launched way back on September 2, 2009, I had minimal expectations in terms of its reach.

Attracting millions of followers? Ha! No way in a crowded digital space dominated by sites like Huff Po, TMZ and Mashable. (Although I understand Gawker faces an uncertain future; see — it pays to be nice some times.)

Maybe with Gawker out of the picture, The PRDude blog will rise in the rankings. Maybe.

Maybe with Gawker out of the picture, The PRDude blog will rise in the rankings. Maybe.

No, I began blogging to chronicle the challenges faced with continuing my career in public relations in the midst of the Great Recession, then added “other stuff” topics to keep things interesting.

Early posts were somewhat cathartic.

So, when I learned a recent post/travelogue generated a whopping (for me) 439 visits plus 68 visits to accompanying images over the past three days, I had to ask: “What was so compelling and fascinating about this post?”

The one in question was published July 23 and featured thoughts and images — all taken by yours truly — from a four-day vacation to communities in east-central Wisconsin.

The “what I learned in small town Wisconsin” commentary was promoted via my social media channels, and I also sent a link to the Heidel House Resort and town of Green Lake chamber of commerce.  But that was more than three weeks ago.

In light of the rioting that plagued Milwaukee a few days ago, I’d like to think that the July 23 post may have been cathartic to some readers, be they from Wisconsin or elsewhere.

And, for those who might want to read more thoughts from The PRDude — or find some solace — there are 309 other posts to read.

Rest assured non qualifies as “Gawker material.”

One Image, One Question: August 9, 2016

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

Way back in August of 1979, a scion of one of the most powerful and successful political families of the 20th century demonstrated the need to be prepared when put on the stage in search of the highest office in the land.

The scion: Then U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, (D-Massachusetts), brother of a president and brother of senator who was running for president– both, as you know — assassinated.

Trump

Mr. Donald Trump, Republican candidate for president, do I have a question for you.

The situation: The Senator was being interviewed by CBS News reporter Roger Mudd on what should have been Kennedy’s chance to demonstrate why he deserved the Democratic nomination for president in the 1980 national elections. The interview took place in a safe and controlled environment: The Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port.

The question: “Why do you want to be president?”

The result: Senator Kennedy delivered a remarkably rambling, decidedly disconnected and certainly confusing response to Mudd’s simple question.

The outcome: Kennedy’s campaign was sunk. Sitting President Jimmy Carter was granted the Democratic nomination, but was trounced by Ronald Reagan.

(Read more from this online report, or view this video posted on YouTube.)

The relationship to the 2016 presidential race: Republican nominee Donald Trump, as you know, has been asked many questions since the campaign began last year, and unquestionably, he’s delivered some rambling, disconnected and confusing answers. But I’m not sure if Mr. Trump has been asked perhaps the most poignant question for any candidate running for president.

And, now for the question — pretty obvious I trust — and subject of today’s post:

Mr. Trump, why do you want to be president?

Throughout this often bizarre and contentious campaign, Mr. Trump has been asked a lot of questions, but I’ve not heard an interviewer pose the simple one above. Given his proclivity for bluster and bombast, I would guess Mr. Trump would not shrink and retreat in the manner as Senator Kennedy.

And, in the interest of fairness, I would pose the same question to Democrat Hillary Clinton. But I think we know what her answer would be.

 

 

Public Relations Pro, Blogger (and yes) Stand Up Comedian Andrea Cordts Takes Center Stage

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

One great satisfaction of working in public relations for a few decades is observing the ascent of younger professionals, those aspiring communicators dedicated to growing, learning and moving the industry and practice forward.

Andrea Cordts

Public relations pro and rising stand up comedy star Andrea Cordts.

Andrea Cordts certainly meets this criteria. We met through the PRSA Chicago Board of Directors, where we both served as volunteer leaders.  At the time, she worked in the communications department at Baird & Warner, a Chicago real estate firm with a 160-year history.  Always bright and energetic, Andrea demonstrated poise and professionalism at chapter meetings and events.

Not surprisingly, she’s moved on to a new company and new challenges.

Andrea now holds the position of Account Director with Fetch Public Relations, LLC, a seven-year-old Chicago communications company.  According to the agency’s website, Fetch is “a full service public relations firm specializing in publicity, content marketing, social media and branding.”

In the latest PRDude Q&A feature profile, Andrea shares thoughts on her new company, her successful blog and “show business” career.

  1. The big first question: You left the corporate world for the agency world. Congratulations! What prompted the move to Fetch Public Relations, LLC?

Thank you! I didn’t really look at it as a corporate-to-agency move, so much as an opportunity to become more involved in the overall strategy and development of public relations plans. I was also eager to gain more experience in mentoring junior staff and making a real impact in the day-to-day running of a company, both of which are a part of my new position.

  1. A review of the agency’s website reveals you’re representing hospitality, as well as some real estate accounts. How did your work at Baird and Warner prepare you for these new client challenges?

Real estate is all about customer service and experience, which translates very well to hospitality. This, paired with my early career experiences in the hospitality industry, made for a pretty seamless transition.

  1. We met a few years ago when we both were on the Board at PRSA Chicago. How have you grown as a public relations professional during that time? 

    Andrea left corporate PR to join this young PR agency.

    Andrea left corporate PR to join this progressive Chicago PR agency.

Being on the Board at PRSA Chicago was such an incredible learning experience, especially at that stage of my career. I learned a great deal about accountability and how to work with professionals at all levels in a learning, collaborative environment.

  1. My sources tell me – okay, you told me – that you’re a fellow blogger. What’s the status of the Chicago Quirk blog?

Ha ha, bloggers gotta stick together! However, I have moved on from Chicago Quirk. It’s still live, and since I utilized SEO tactics when writing my blogs, it still gets nearly 200 hits a day! My life changed immensely since I started it — job changes, had a kid, bought a house — and since it’s a Chicago Now blog, I wasn’t able to really re-brand. I’m actually working on another blog project that I hope to launch soon though. Stay tuned!

  1. My sources also told me – full disclosure: You told me – that you once had a career in the medieval-themed entertainment industry. And, your LinkedIn profile states you were a professional dancer and still do standup comedy. Do you incorporate these talents into your client work at Fetch?

I’m not sure my days as a wench at Medieval Times helps my current career, aside from the fact that I have unique stories to tell at cocktail parties! (Especially since my husband worked their too!) Yes, I was in a professional dance company until my late 20’s, and I did standup for several years until my daughter was born. Again, good stories to tell at parties, but it gave me invaluable presentation skills and the ability to think on my feet — no pun intended.

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This space has profiled other outstanding women in public relations.  Visit the links below to read Q&A profiles from:

  • Gini Dietrich, founder and president of Arment Dietrich and the amazingly popular Spin Sucks blog.
  • Chris Ruys, founder and president of Chris Ruys Communications, a long-standing, diversified Chicago firm.
  • Carolyn Grisko, founder and president of Grisko, a leader in transportation and public affairs communications.

What I Learned On Our Summer Vacation to Some Small Wisconsin Towns

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

The distance was only 180 miles, but it truly was a world away from Chicago.

What? Where?

I’m referring to the four-day summer sojourn — all right “vacation” — Susan and I took earlier this week to get away from it all. Our base camp was the Heidel House Resort and Spa in Green Lake, Wisconsin, a wonderful venue with lots of lake frontage, walking paths, trees and quiet.

The outdoor pool was pretty cool, too.

But what was just as enjoyable was visits to other small towns nearby.  Our daily jaunts took use to Berlin, Princeton and Ripon — the birthplace of the Republican Party, quite coincidental since the Republican National Committee held its gathering in Cleveland earlier this week.

In fact, we learned a lot about small towns and the people who live and work there, as evidenced by the images below.

 

Wis 10

In this era of $6 craft beers made from exotic fruits, bars in small towns still serve beers made with water, yeast and hops. And, I’ll bet a PBR at Buckhorn’s will be less than six bucks.

Wis 9

A rainstorm doesn’t cause nearly the havoc in a small town than it does in a city. Plus, it’s kind of cool to enjoy the summer rain while on a street like this one.

Wis 8

Summer concerts in a small town park along a lake hold something special. Perhaps it’s in the water. Perhaps it’s the people. Perhaps it’s the fact it’s summer.

Wis 7

Looking at water on a summer day in a small town is enjoyable and relaxing. Adding beer to the equation makes it all that much better.

Wis 6

Small buildings can hold big potential in a small town. Just add the right tenant and some striking exterior paint. A new home for someone to make and sell art.

Wis 5

A river runs though many small towns. This one is still relatively unspoiled by development.

Wis 4

People in small towns can be genuine. Four ladies we met in this little park offered to pray for us, plus they offered bottled water on a warm day.

Wis 3

Think people in the big city have a monopoly on creativity? Just look at what’s offered by this small town merchant.

Wis 2

Parking is free in small towns — and there’s lots of it! Drivers leave their keys in the ignition without fear of theft.

Wis 1

And, fittingly, sunsets over lakes in small towns in mid July are magical. We found serenity in taking part in this daily natural wonder.

 

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Regular followers know that the PRDude frequently heads north to take in the wonders and splendor of Wisconsin. Here are some past posts:

 

 

 

 

Thoughts Just Before a Summer Storm

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

Here, during the minutes before a summer storm strikes, one can still hear, see and learn.

Looking north from our back porch, shortly before a summer storm.

Looking north from our back porch, shortly before a summer storm.

I can still hear the cicadas, their symphonic chorus almost deafening at times. The thunder sounds lumber in my direction, announcing the rain to come.  Although the evening chirps from the cardinals and robins, a pleasure on a summer evening, are not to be heard.

As darkness comes earlier than it should around the 7 p.m. hour, I still see life on our humble street in the Avondale section of Chicago. My neighbor walks her dog, hurriedly I gather, as she’s aware of the threatening weather.  A young woman with a backpack makes her way home, handheld in hand, while a cyclist — his helmet and headlight flashing — pedals hurriedly south on Whipple Street.

And, as for the lesson: Embrace the moments before a challenge and revel in watching nature unfold around you, even here in the heart of a big city.

Okay.

Have you had enough of this “creative” stuff?

What I’m doing is practicing creative writing, well sort of. And why? Because I’m proud to announce that starting this August, I will start graduate studies in English at the university where I work.

Yes, English, with a concentration in creative studies.  Hey, I was an English major at Illinois State University, you know.

And, why not public relations?  Well two very good reasons:

  1. The university does not have a public relations program.
  2. I’m confident that my Accredited in Public Relations credential — and a few decades of practical experience — has prepared me for the profession.

So stay tuned to read updates as I begin another personal journey to learning and growing.

Now, it’s back to engaging with the approaching storm, its presence awe inspiring, humbling and …

I’ll stop for now.

One Image, One Question: July 4, 2016

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

A morning stroll through Avondale and Logan Square this Independence Day was tranquil in its own way.

As you’d expect, I encountered only a handful of people, and there were few cars on normally busy Diversey Avenue and Logan Boulevard. Aside from the occasional barking dog or chirping bird, the only disruption to the quiet were the squawking chickens — yes chickens — owned by a family down the block.

Even with the beverage can discarded in the street, one could find tranquility on George Street this Independence Day.

Even with the beverage can discarded in the street, one could find tranquility on George Street this Independence Day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case on many other Chicago streets.

On George Street, tranquility for me is embodied in the image on this page. Yes, this is not at all bucolic in the conventional sense, in light of the mature trees; but for a thoroughfare in the heart of one of America’s largest and greatest cities, one could enjoy the quiet of a summer holiday morning by sitting quietly on George Street.

From our front porch, we partake in this activity regularly.

Many other blocks in Chicago may look like George Street in the Avondale neighborhood this morning; but many, far too many, are not at all tranquil. Too many streets have become urban battle zones plagued by gun-driven violence that has reached levels not seen in decades.

As noted in this Yahoo news report, the monthly homicide rate this year in Chicago can be equated to the horrific mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

So, on to the question:

What needs to happen to quell the heartbreaking outbreak of shootings that has shredded the very fabric of some Chicago communities?

If this is any sign of “progress,” through enhanced policing “only” two people were fatally shot and 30 have been wounded by gunfire so far this long weekend. An online report from DNA Info provides the details.

Wishing all who read this a safe and Happy Independence Day.  Also, wishing for realistic answers to my question this July 4, 2016.

Thirty Days Have September, April, June … And Illinois (Finally) Has a Budget!

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

Well, I think so.

As of this writing, late afternoon on June 30, 2016, both houses of the Illinois legislature have agreed to a “stopgap” budget to fund education, transportation and human services here in my home state for the next six months. Now it needs the governor’s signature.

All is well in Springfield, Illinois, the seat of power in the Land of Lincoln, now that a half budget has been approved.

All is well in Springfield, Illinois, the seat of power in the Land of Lincoln, now that a half budget has been approved.

In case you haven’t been following this monumental story, the elected legislators of Illinois were supposed to have a budget passed on June 30 — of 2015.  As one could imagine, this lack of fiduciary responsibility has led to lots of challenges for the people who live and work here and the companies who do business here.

I’ll reserve any commentary on the factors behind this momentous lack of prudent governance. Other commentators have blasted first-term Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the General Assembly for, in light of a better phrase, playing politics to an extreme perhaps never realized in modern governmental history.

I will comment and offer some public relations counsel on what needs to — or better yet, should — happen next.  As a service to the people of Illinois, let me propose this framework of a plan using the classic four-step public relations program concept.

  1. Define the Threat or Opportunity: Most plans address one or the other. Illinois today faces both. Threat: Continued loss of stature, reputation, people, businesses and revenues. Opportunity: To demonstrate to the nation and world that even dysfunctional governments can change.
  2. Conduct Research: This should be fairly straightforward: Calculate how much the state has lost over the past 365 days (note topics in “threat” from #1 above) and what value can be gained through sound governance.
  3. Communicate: Issue regular — perhaps daily — messages on how the government is working to do what it’s supposed to do: Exercise executive authority fairly and justly to the benefit of all its citizens.
  4. Evaluate and Make Revisions: One target date to consider is November 8. That’s Election Day in Illinois and nationwide. You know what I’m referring to.

Yes, this is simplistic, and I strongly doubt that the elected officials across the state will take notice.

But Illinois has only one direction to go. And, hey, legislators are half-way to the finish line.

NOTE: As a disclosure, I work for a state university; I wrote this post on my own time. My comments are my own.