Tucson Tragedy Will Unfortunately Define 2011, As We Ask “Why?”

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

In December of this year,  newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online media chronicle will chronicle the “biggest” or “most significant” events of 2011.  The shooting rampage in a Tucson supermarket parking lot Saturday that left Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords gravely wounded, six killed and a dozen wounded surely will be among the events that define and shape these 12 months.

What started out as a decidedly “non-news” event — an outreach effort by an elected official to meet with constituents — now dominates the news and more than likely will do so for the immediate future.

The pivotal news stories of last year — our struggling economy, the Gulf Coast oil spill, continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise of the Tea Party movement — have not been shifted to the “yesterday’s news” file;  these and other stories will remain in the national spotlight.

Through Saturday’s violence, the national debate now will refocus on topics we’ve discussed before:  Gun control and the Second Amendment,  extreme political views, mental health, security and more.  The alleged gunman arrested in Tucson reportedly posted statements about his mistrust of the government on his website, meaning some will offer theories regarding the impact of social media on society and behavior.

Sadly, the violent attack on an elected official is not “new news.”  The nation has mourned slayings of Presidents and many others elected to public office. Violent attacks on those we elect to lead have defined far too many other periods in American history.   And, sadly we now have to put together the pieces to learn “why” it happened again.

Why was Congresswoman Giffords, a progressive, well-respected, highly accomplished public servant singled out for what prosecutors will define as murder?  Why was one of our most cherished rights as Americans, the freedom to assemble, shattered by violence?  And, why did the alleged gunman turn his rage on so many others, including a little girl?

This blog was launched to let me share thoughts and ideas regarding public relations, which I firmly maintain plays a pivotal role in modern society.  Public relations, if practiced according to prescribed ethical standards some of us uphold, promotes open disclosure of information and two-way communication on issues.  A public relations plan should identify threats and opportunities, and it should identify ways to build relationships.

Perhaps this statement may be perceived as simplistic or overly idealistic. But as we sort through the madness that took place in Tucson,  perhaps we can identify future threats to our way of life; perhaps we can identify opportunities to build and encourage dialog; perhaps we can building relationships that will prevent the madness that took place in Tucson from happening again.

Perhaps.

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The PRDude Projects: Goals & Objectives for Decade II

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

New Year’s resolutions? Not for me.  I’m taking an approach centered on accepted public relations  practices.

Before we pop the champagne around here, the last day of 2010 and the last day of the first decade of the once-called “New Millennium,” here are some goals and objectives I plan to pursue in 2011 and beyond:

  1. Goal: Avoid Snarky Commentary. Examples of snarkiness — mean-spirited, demeaning, back-stabbing comments from “experts,” celebrities, bloggers, journalists and others — abounds in print, television and online media.  Some say or publish this stuff in an attempt to be humorous or elevate their standing or position.  Some hope to sell a few more books, garments or concert tickets.  Enough! I’ve reached the proverbial boiling point — whether it’s a judge on a TV reality food show or an online discussion.  I refuse to participate in snarkiness disguised as criticism.

    Awareness Objective: Identify 100 percent of all snarky commentary that crosses my desk, laptop or BlackBerry by January 2, 2011.
    Acceptance Objective: Recognize that all snarky commentary is counter-productive and a waste of time by January 3, 2011.
    Action Objective: Rapidly turn the page, switch channels or hit the “Delete” key on all snarky commentary from January 3 to December 31, 2011.

  2. Goal: Support Ethical and Effective Public Relations and Communications. This may appear to be perfunctory; but it’s an initiative that those of us who take the profession seriously and believe in the value it delivers to society must continue to do.  Efforts like the PRSA Business Case for Public Relations and credentials like the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) keep reinforcing what true public relations is about.  (Disclosure: I am a PRSA member, hold the APR and am a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, which grants, administers and markets the credential.)  But all of us who are passionate about the profession need to do his/her share.

    Awareness Objective: Identify by January 2, 2011 what public relations has done to impact my life and career.
    Acceptance Objective: Re-read PRSA Ethical Standards by January 3, 2011 and become more proficient in incorporating those into my work day.
    Action Objective: Promote in this blog and other communications from January 4 to December 31, 2011 the true definition of “public relations.”

  3. Goal: Support Those Seeking Employment or Career Growth. I took on the PRDude alter-ego on September 4, 2009, the day my management position with a Chicago association was eliminated.  It was the apex of the Great Recession, a time when companies were shedding scores and scores of workers. This October, I reached my goal and secured a tremendous new position — one that offers opportunities to grow and contribute strategically to the goals of the organization. (And, I get paid pretty well, too!)  I’ve learned a lot and will enthusiastically help those “in transition,” as job seeking is called today.  Job market news today actually was encouraging, as the number of first-time unemployment filings declined.

    Awareness Objective: Learn throughout 2011 of positions in public relations, marketing and other communication fields.
    Acceptance Objective: Reiterate throughout 2011 that I hold knowledge and tools that can help others in the profession.
    Action Objective: Take a pro-active approach throughout 2011 to assist anyone seeking career advice — from those entering the profession to seasoned practitioners.

Note:  Sincere thanks to everyone who’s read this blog, especially those who’ve taken time to comment. Online communications, of course, offer unlimited opportunities to share ideas and information; I’m honored to be a small part of it.

Wishing all a safe and Happy New Year, and a prosperous 2011.  Okay: It’s time to pop the champagne.