NYC Musings or 72 Hours in the Most Crowded, Crazy, Dirty, Diverse, Wonderful, Wacky Place I’ve Ever Visited

The World Trade Center site at night.

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

My New York tweet: NYC explodes on senses. Urban  amalgamation of people, culture, garbage, subways, character, passion, more people: Humanity amidst the chaos.

Want more? Here’s another of my “travelogues” complete with cell camera images.  Highlights from New York, late Friday to waiting for AA #335 at LGA today.

9/11 Memorial and What Was Ground Zero.  Literally steps from my temporary residence (the beautiful, and for New York, reasonable, Club
Quarters World Trade Center
) I could observe the hundreds who waited their turn to visit the 9/11 Memorial.  All were orderly from what I witnessed.  All could have spent their time at one of the hundreds of places that define New York.  Yet they came here, hopefully to tour the memorial, reflect on those who perished and see firsthand the embodiment of American spirit.  Elsewhere on the site, Freedom Tower continued to soar, as earth-moving machines relentlessly laid the groundwork for more development.

Ground zero from the 10th floor.

Asia at the End of the 7 Train.  The subway commute from downtown via the 4 train to Grand Central to the end of the 7 train in Flushing took just over an hour. It left me in a world where I was the minority.  Flushing is an Asian polyglot community full of markets, restaurants, salons and what I was told is the heaviest street traffic outside of Manhattan. I believe it. It’s happened in other cities, including Chicago: A new ethnic group arrives, eclipses the old and thrives.  Here, it’s done on a massive scale.  Note the length of this seafood aisle in the image below. Lunch with myby  commercial real estate friends Paul Fetscher, CCIM and Syed Quadri, CCIM at the New Imperial Palace was delicious, cheap and testimony to what defines this fascinating place: People like Paul, a native, and Syed, who arrived here  30 years ago, can thrive in a place like New York –by working together.

The seafood aisle in a market off Main Street in Flushing was astounding.

My great friends Paul Fetscher (left) and Syed Quadri (right).

A Bittersweet Ending to My Commitment to Accreditation.  My key purpose here was to attend what was my final meeting as a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, the governing body that administers, grants and markets the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential.  In between I ate, drank, explored and heard some great jazz; more on the jazz below.) In 2003, I was one of the first to pursue the APR under the re-engineered format that includes the computer-based Examination. It took me three tries, but I did pass, becoming the first from Chicago to do so under the new format.   The challenges I faced and frustrations I endured – hey, I was a two-time loser – earning Accreditation only strengthened my passion for the credential and practice of strategic and ethical public relations.  After six years on the UAB, I “retired.”  It was an honor to serve and work with many PR professionals who are a lot smarter than me. I’ll miss the camaraderie, the challenges and of course, the opportunity to come to New York a couple of times a year.  I’ll now be able to help professionals from Chicago who want to take the APR challenge.  By the way, have you considered pursuing Accreditation?

My Favorite NYC Things.  As you might expect, one could spend a lot of money in New York. Just check my hotel bill. But there are a lot of things you can do for
free or relatively low cost. On my trip, here are a few things I did that were free, but totally cool:

  • Stroll along the water.  I took the images below on the Esplanade at Battery Park City.  Remember, New York is an island, and much of the shoreline offers some pretty cool vistas and boat traffic.
  • The subways. Something like 3 million people ride NYC subways daily. On my trek out to Flushing on the elevated 7 train, I saw parts of Queens I’ve only seen from the air. Plus, I group of strolling musicians performed a Mexican folk song on our car.  And, they were really good.
  • The architecture.  The concrete and steel canyons of the Financial District downtown provide some of the most varied, interesting and diverse streetscapes anywhere.  From the classically inspired Federal Hall to the new towers among the World Trade Center site, there are tremendous things to see.

And, here are a few things I paid for:

  • Music.  My New Jersey buddy John Burke and I caught the Ravi Coltrane Quintet at the Village Vanguard, a legendary club in Greenwich Village.  The cost was $25, plus a drink. We saw world-class jazz in a venue that was made for it. The rock clubs are gone, but jazz still thrives in New York.
  • Food.  Before the show, we took in a quick dinner at a small – not more than 30-seat – restaurant near the club.  For a total of around 20 bucks, I had shrimp tacos, roasted red pepper soup and a side of Brussels sprouts. Everything was fresh and delicious. Judging by their accents, the young hostess and cooks came from another country to run a restaurant in one of the most competitive, expensive cities in the world. And they were succeeding.
  • Drink. From the lounge atop the Club Quarters, I enjoyed a cold beer, had a great conversation with the young Russian lady bartender and had a penthouse view of the World Trade Center site — in all its soon-to-be glory.  This cost $5.75 plus tip.I’ve been to New York dozens of times.    I’m always enthralled.  What about you? Do you love, hate or just tolerate New York? Share your thoughts.

The Esplanade along the Hudson in Battery Park City.

Lunch with Some PR Agency Big Shots (And What They Had To Say)

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

Earlier today, my colleagues at PRSA Chicago hosted what has become the most well-attended of the regular monthly luncheons on the schedule: The panel discussion featuring the top officer from some of the biggest agencies around.

Three very smart, successful PR professionals — Rick Murray from Edelman, Max Winer from Fleishman-Hillard and and Bill Zucker from Ketchum — shared their thoughts on social media, the evolution of PR in the communications arena, the PR “story of the year” and more.  PRSA/Chicago Board member Jack Monson moderated; he did an outstanding job of posing provocative questions tempered with dry humor.

Here’s what made it into the PRDude’s notebook.  (I used to be a real news reporter, you know.)  It’s close to “tomorrow” (otherwise known as “Wednesday”), so I’ll be brief.  Bullet points will suffice here, and I won’t attribute specific quotes or thoughts because, frankly, I didn’t take very precise notes.  There. Full disclosure.

  • Moving in the Direction: Communications Integration. PR agencies are evolving into more “complete, integrated communications firms.”  In the same vein, “the beauty of public relations is that is has the license to compete in a bunch of different spaces.”  I wholeheartedly agree with these thoughts, and would like to add this: Those of us in the corporate and/or association side of the profession — like me — have had to wear a lot of hats for a long time. That’s how we get stuff done.
  • How Loud Can You Say, “Social Media!” “If you’re not working with social media, you won’t be working for long.” Those professionals who recently entered the ranks bring a passion for social media, which is being funneled up the corporate ladder. Did you know that Edelman has a social media training program based on a martial arts “belt system?”  (Wonder if my old tae-kwon-do instructor, Mr. Yung, would approve?  Wonder if he’s on Facebook.)
  • In This Year’s News…  When asked about the top story or development in public relations, the panelists were divided on the broad and encompassing (more PR professionals getting a seat with the corporate guys and gals and more defined responsibilities from clients) to the specific: The Facebook scandal involving Burson Marsteller and the bankruptcy that put legendary media monitoring giant Video Monitoring Services out of business.  I found the discussion of the VMS closing as the most poignant: Modify your business model or you might be out of business.   (Personal note: The PRDude covered the BM “Googlegate” debacle in a previous post. )
  • And, There was Time for Questions. As in questions from the audience. Well, The PRDude took advantage of Mr. Monson’s LinkedIn request for questions.  Mine was:  “Do you subscribe to the Barcelona Principles?”  Must say, I think I caught these folks a bit off guard, as there was not a lot of commentary. What was I referring to?  Read this past post and find out.  Hint: If you’re serious about this profession and where it’s heading, I recommend you read up on the Barcelona Principles.  Hint: They have nothing to do with traveling to a cool place in Spain.  Better yet, read my thoughts.

Let me turn the tables on you: What is the biggest PR story or development to date?  Do you agree with those mentioned by the panelists?

One more thing: This is the PRDude’s 100th blog.  I hear trumpets!  I’ll offer some insight on this somewhat monumental feat next time.

On This Day A Decade Ago

September 11, 2011

By Edward M. Bury, aka The PRDude

On this day a decade ago 19 men — fueled by hatred, ignorance and a warped ideology — changed the course of history here in the United States and wherever people live free.

On this day a decade ago this nation was bound by a singular cause made part of our collective national consciousness from the senseless loss of thousands of lives and destruction of symbols of what makes this country great.

On this day a decade ago heroes were born — and heroes died, many quite unceremoniously; not on fields of battle but in places thought to be safe.

On this day a decade ago the morning skies above New York, Washington and eastern Pennsylvania were clear and blue; within the course of 102 minutes the skies were darkened by smoke, anguish and fear.

On this day a decade ago artists, writers, poets and musicians were inspired to chronicle first the horror, then the pain and finally the resolve and courage that surfaced in the days and months later.

On this day a decade ago I stood stunned in a room with colleagues and witnessed first-hand on a television screen the latest horror man brought upon fellow man.

On this day a decade ago I sat in silence on a subway car and overheard a rough-looking man utter this challenge: “Put me in a room with that terrorist motherfucker and let’s see how tough he is.”

On this day a decade ago I spent the first of many evenings engrossed in news reports and tried to understand why a handful of  people living thousands of miles away could tear the very fabric of our country to its very core.

On this day a decade ago life went on, but we vowed never to forget.

Today, our lives have changed. We have to take off our shoes at the airport to pass through security.  We are recorded on cameras in places public and what used to be private.  We are constantly reminded to be constantly on guard.

Yet, the very foundations of this nation — our freedom to assemble peacefully, to speak our minds and disagree, to pursue greatness — remain intact.   Towers crumbled, lives were lost and many more lives were decidedly altered on this day a decade ago.

Today, we carry on and hopefully learned that our world, our children’s world and their children’s world will never be the same.  Hopefully, we will never stop trying to reach a place where we will never have a day like on this day a decade ago.

This Labor Day: Advice for Those Who Remain “In Transition”

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Yesterday, I learned that Labor Day, which is today here in the United States, was born from controversy, hard times and labor unrest.   An historical piece in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune pointed out that the first Monday in September, a day devoted to the American worker, was made a national holiday in 1894 under order from President Grover Cleveland.  Earlier that year, things were not so rosy.

Many of us who fire up our grills and bid good-bye to the “official” end of summer may not know that the first Labor Day took place at a time when the nation was in a depression and federal troops were sent to a quash a strike in June of 1894 at the Pullman railroad car plant in Chicago.

Well, back then Pullman was the town industrialist George Pullman created  for his thriving business; it’s now part of Chicago.  He owned the town, the plant and the houses his railroad workers were forced to live in.  He cut workers’ pay but not the cost of rent, leading to a strike, violence and ultimately a blow to the unions.  Of, Pullman was forced to divest his industrial fifedom and sell off the town.

Of course, there’s labor strife today, mostly felt among the 9.1 percent of Americans who can’t find a job.

You loyal readers know The PRDude was inspired to join the ranks of bloggerdom (I just made that word up) when he was thrust into “transition.”  That nice three-syllable  word is really a euphemism for being unemployed.  Or underemployed.  Or to many Americans, in dire straits.

My outcome was positive.  I’m approaching my 11th month in a tremendous position where I manage public relations, marketing communications and lots of other stuff for a great real estate association here in Chicago.

My search took 13 months. On this Labor Day, I offer this advice for those who remain in the hunt.

  1. Think Not Outside the Box.  Thankfully, that silly cliche –“think outside the box” — has faded from our lexicon.  It basically means, “try something different.” I don’t think that’s good advice for job seekers.  Focus on your strengths. Concentrate in the industry and fields where you have experience.  Why “reinvent” yourself if your old self worked.
  2. Ask For Help. It’s Out There. Too many unemployed people fail to ask for assistance, referrals or advice. You’d be surprised.  Friends, former co-workers, the guy at the coffee shop more than likely are willing to help.  Ask.  But remember, there people have lives and other stuff to do.  Don’t expect to be top of mind to your network all the time; just stay within range.
  3. Have a Routine, But Make Time to Follow a Different Path. During my transition period, you know, when I was still seeking that next great job in public relations, I kept up my ritual of starting my day with a brisk stroll through the neighborhood.  I got exercise and an opportunity to think.  Some days, I would return and get right back to work.  Other days, I’d (figuratively) keep walking.  It helped because I did not feel each day was the same; not just another day of being “in transition.”  NOTE: Watching television all day but switching channels doesn’t count.

Of course, those seeking work should continue to network, remain positive, volunteer if possible and remain diligent.  Hopefully, on this 117th Labor Day, the three thoughts above will provide some additional insight and inspiration.

Do you have similar thoughts to share?  Are you “in transition?”  Hit the comment button and make your thoughts known.

Wishing all a safe and tranquil Labor Day.  Wishing all who’s labor is finding that next great position much success.  You can do it.  Just ask the PRDude.