Warm Memories on a Cold Night Three Days Before Christmas

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

This time of year, most appreciate the opportunity to share merriment and joy with family and friends.  Or, they welcome Christmas in all its consumerism — shopping, buying, giving, receiving.  And, there are those who have not lost sight of the fact the Christmas really means “Christ’s mass,” or the religious celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Me, I enjoy the days leading up to Christmas for a different reason: I enjoy taking solitude and reflecting on what the past year has yielded in terms of new friendships, accomplishments and challenges ahead.

Hey, don’t call me Mr. Grinch.  I enjoy a celebration as much as the next guy. In fact, when I complete this post, I plan to stroll around the corner for a cold beer or two at my neighborhood tavern.  But it’s times like this — alone with my thoughts and this keyboard — that really define what the year-end holidays are all about.

So, let me share some thoughts on this cold Chicago night, three days before Christmas.

I Believed in Myself, and Opportunity Came My Way. When I launched my search for that next great position in public relations, I knew it would be a challenge.  The economy.  My senior-level status. My expertise in the field of a down industry like real estate.  These all could have been perceived as detriments.  I did not.  I would not let these or any other factors become obstacles or roadblocks to reaching my goal.  I believed that I had value in today’s market, and I still do today.

I Have Seen the Future: And Public Relations is Part of It. The public relations profession has been bashed up and down from the days a century ago when pioneer Ivy Lee wrote his Declaration of Principles.  A recent piece by a very prestigious publication, the Economist, took a particularly jaundiced view of public relations.  Note to the disbelievers: Don’t underestimate the value behind effective public relations — especially in a world increasingly reliant on online communications and hand-held devices.

The public relations profession has more than just kept pace with developments involving the explosion of the internet and social media; we’ve helped shaped and defined this new way of communicating. Those of us who have made the transition from the old “press agent” model to strategic counselor will continue to play vital roles in society for the immediate future.

I’ve Realized That There’s Strength in Others. No question I have proven strengths, talents and abilities within the public relations and communications arenas. But I’m part of an industry, a member of a profession. My success is defined by standards I adhere to and so do others.  I sincerely believe that I would not be as successful had I not sought out — and was accepted — by outstanding colleagues I work with on the Universal Accreditation Board, the PRSA Chicago Chapter and other groups.

I am Proud and Honored to Have This Forum. To those reading this post, and to those who  have read my 70-plus posts in the past: Thanks for this opportunity. I hope to be a lot more vocal in the New Year.  To you and anyone reading this: Merry Christmas and a very prosperous 2011.

A (Somewhat) Subtle Switch & Reflections on the Chicago Cubs True Leader

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PRDude

My loyal readers — you’re out there, aren’t you? — have probably wondered what happened to the PRDude.  No posts for weeks, none so far this month.  Did he run out of opinions and ideas? Did he just give up blogging? Did he abandon public relations?

The answers: No, no, and no.

There are two reasons why I’ve been remiss in adding posts to my blog:

  1. I’ve been busy with my “real” job. As chronicled in my October 17 post, I landed an outstanding new full-time position.  The past seven weeks have been enlightening and fulfilling, and to some extent challenging and exhausting — all in a good way.  I hit the ground running.  This left little time to conceive ideas and post them here.
  2. I found it’s really hard to develop and execute ideas based on my new theme, “The Lighter Side of Public Relations, Marketing & Communications.”  It ain’t easy trying to be funny.  My deepest respect to Mark Twain, who pioneered humorous prose, and more modern masters like the late Art Buchwald and P.J. O’Rourke, who have kept the craft alive and well.

The Classic Mark Twain -- Looking East.

The Pensive Art Buchwald.

The Jester, P.J. O'Rourke.

So, I’ve decided to augment the theme of this blog with “other stuff.”  Very obtuse, I know.  But I’ll try to offer perspectives on politics (can’t wait f0r the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to start next year) and popular culture (there will always be Lady Gaga, the Situation and Real Housewives to tackle).

This is a fine segue into thoughts on the late Ron Santo, former Chicago Cubs legendary third baseman, radio baseball color commentator, perennial shutout from the Baseball Hall of Fame and champion for raising money and awareness for research into juvenile diabetes.

Ron Santo, Iconic Chicago Cubs Third Baseman, at Wrigley Field.

Mr. Santo died December 2 from cancer. But he battled diabetes and other health problems all his life with the same ferocity as an at bat against a mean hurler like Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson.  Sportswriters have offered lots of words on Santo as a player, broadcaster and human being. He’s been heralded for his outstanding statistics on the field of play, for playing pro ball for 15 years with diabetes, for his scrappy, combative at times attitude on and off the field, and for his heartfelt, if at times loony, commentary in the WGN-AM radio booth.
As a North Side Chicago kid and life-long Cubs fan, I followed Santo his entire career (except for his final season with the White Sox; but that’s another topic).  I have memories of rooting for Santo and the Cubs at games played only in sunshine at Wrigley Field during the 1960s, when 12,000 was a big crowd.
One thing stood out: Ron Santo was a leader.  In fact, he was the last true leader the Chicago Cubs have had between the baselines.
He was not afraid to stand down a fellow player, an umpire, the manager or an opposing pitcher.  And, as I’ve learned, from another perspective, Santo was the guy you wanted to watch your back.  Along with the Gold Gloves (five), batting average (.277), hits (2,254), homers (342) and RBIs (1,331), Ron Santo knew a team — like a company, a cause, a country — needs a leader, one who can make a decision and live with the consequences.
Santo was a character who had a lot of character.  Perhaps the keepers of the Baseball Hall of Fame will now finally recognize that and enshrine Santo in Cooperstown posthumously.  True, Santo never led the Chicago Cubs to the World Series, or even the post season.  But he won just about every day of his life.