My State of Mind on Tonight’s State of the Union Address

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

In around 5 minutes, President Obama will deliver the 2012 State of the Union address to Congress.  This kind of thing happens every year, you know.  But these days, I think it’s more appropriate to call it the “State of Confusion” address.

Not that I’m picking on the President or any particular member of Congress.  Given the challenging times we face today — and will for perhaps generations to come — there’s a lot of blame to spread around.

The big question:  How did this nation, without argument the most dynamic, prosperous and progressive on earth, trip, stumble and fall?

It’s because we’re confused.

We’re confused about what got us into this mess.  At least, that’s what I read and hear from the leaders of both major political parties: “It’s because of the (fill in the blank, which ever party you don’t like).”

“Bipartisanship?”  I don’t think so, although I did read that Democrats and Republicans will in essence have a “date night” at tonight’s address by sitting next to each other when the President delivers his address.  A nice gesture, but hopefully they can sit next to each other at the negotiation table and compromise on legislation that brings the United States back on track.

So, how should lawmakers address the confusion?  Here’s a few thoughts:

  • Engage in dialogue.  Look up the word if you’re not sure what it means.
  • Be open and transparent.  Hey, it’s what drives effective public relations, should work in Congress.
  • Set realistic, measurable goals.  It took a long time for the nation to fall into this mess. It will take a long time to get back on course
  • And, above all: Put the values of the American people — not the 100 Senators and 435 Congressmen or their lobbyists and special interest groups — at the forefront. We’re the ones who elected you.

What else should we do to end the confusion?  Share your thoughts.

Or, listen to the address live from this site hosted by the New York Times.   I’m taking a break for dinner.



Why I’ll Continue to Pay to Receive Home Delivery of a Real Newspaper (Even Though I Could Read It Online for Free)

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

The above arguably is the longest title for a blog from a communicator ever written. Well, at least by The PRDude.

It was inspired by an invoice we received last week from the Chicago Tribune for seven-day-per-week home delivery of the newspaper to the front door of our Chicago home.   The invoice  of $97.50 covered home delivery of the Trib through mid April.

We had the option to pay for home delivery through July of this year, or even through the second week of 2013 — and the second week of 2014!  But we’ll stick with the quarterly rate, which was a bit higher than in the past.

Will the Trib — at least the version we now receive, with sound reporting, commentary, features and The Jumble puzzle  — be around past 2014?  I’m sure it will, because people like me need, make that demand, a daily broadsheet or tabloid print publication.

We demand it because:

  • We were raised on newspapers, the source of serious news for us, our parents and their parents.
  • We like the whole process of unfolding a broadsheet and snapping it to the page we want to read.
  • We like the feel of newsprint, fragile paper that’s designed to be tossed in the trash after its value is consumed by the reader.
  • We’re loyal to our hometown and in turn, institutions like newspapers.

Loyal followers on this blog recall that The PRDude began his career as a hard news wire service reporter before transitioning into public relations a few decades ago.  In the late 1970s, reporters for the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the long-gone Chicago Daily News were heroes to guys like me, those of us who typed our stories on manual typewriters.  They were newspapermen (and newspaperwomen, of course.)  They reported and covered the news and we read about it the next morning or afternoon.

Aside from some columnists, a few beat writers and sports reporters, all of the Tribune and Sun-Times reporters I worked with and pitched stories to are gone, corporate casualties.  Most have left the business; the fortunate have found other careers (like public relations perhaps?) or teach.  I’m told “newspaper” reporters now write online content first in most cases, which is okay because that’s the direction mass communications has taken and that’s the direction it will follow.

Only a luddite would disagree.

Like all print mediums, the Tribune and to a great extent, the Sun-Times, are struggling to remain relevant, and of course, in business.  Last summer, the Trib launched an expanded print edition that offers home delivery readers more news, features and commentary.

The Tribune says us home delivery readers get an “an additional 40 pages of weekly coverage.” My only complaint is that I just don’t have the time to read all the new stuff; but I try.

I start my weekdays reading a newspaper, the Tribune, while riding a CTA el train. Usually, I’m the only person reading a newspaper.  I end my day working on the Jumble with Susan; she usually unscrambles the words faster than me.

As long as someone prints a newspaper, I’ll continue this practice. What about you? Do you subscribe to and/or read a print newspaper?



PRSA Chicago 2012: Staying on Course, But in a Different Direction

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

“Volunteer” is one of those cool words that can be used three ways: Noun, verb and adjective.   And, of course, we all know the definition of the word.

In practice, being a volunteer is a very positive thing to do.  It’s beneficial to offer uncompensated service for activities, causes and events that have personal meaning.   There’s definite “feel good” value to giving precious time, resources and energies.

As a volunteer (the noun form of the word), I’ve received as much as I’ve given.  As 2012 unfolds, I can reflect back on six years spent as a member of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the body that grants and administers the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential, which I proudly hold.  It was a tremendous opportunity to learn from some outstanding public relations professionals and build friendships — all while volunteering (the verb form of the word).

The Accreditation in Public Relations credential is the hallmark of individual excellence.

The past few years, I chaired or co-chaired the UAB Marketing Communications work group.  I led efforts to build awareness for the Accreditation program, promote acceptance of the credential in public relations and engage practitioners to pursue and earn the APR.  Our group developed a sound plan with realistic goals and objectives.  I was proud of what we accomplished.

When my second three-year term on the UAB ended, I needed to turn my volunteer (the adjective form of the word) efforts elsewhere. This year, I’ll stay close to home and contribute what I can to PRSA Chicago.  My role will be to serve on the Accreditation Committee; our goal will be the build the number of Accredited members in what is the fourth largest chapter within the Public Relations Society of America.

Yesterday, the chapter held a very lively and encouraging kick off indoctrination meeting. There were more than 20 colleagues — some I knew and have worked with, others new to me — in attendance.  The agenda addressed the great strides made in terms of revenue, events and membership growth and retention in 2011, future activities from the Young Professionals Network and the reinstatement of an Advocacy Committee.  We talked about plans for a PRSA Midwest Regional conference in July, and the annual Skyline Awards slated for early June.

There was spirited debate over mainstay kind of program and activities, and equally spirited debate about new stuff. That energized me.

It’s imperative that PRSA Chicago — or just about any volunteer body or for-profit company for that matter — stay the course on programs and initiatives that have worked before, but be ready to wipe the slate clean and be open to change and a different direction.

Collectively, the volunteer public relations professionals who are charged with guiding PRSA Chicago through 2012 have an open blueprint to craft another successful 12 months.  Based on the enthusiasm displayed at the kick off meeting and willingness to reinvent itself, I think the Chapter is poised to thrive in the year ahead.

Are you a member of a PRSA Chapter or another communications organization?  What’s your forecast for 2012?

Before I Call It a Year

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

This time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the “Top 10…” or even “Ten Worst…” kind of madness that gets published online and in print, and aired on television and radio. Pundits, critics and yes, bloggers, find it essential at year-end to rank and ultimately file what’s perceived as important.

And, of course, regular folks just make New Year’s resolutions, which can be a good thing, providing they last before the next mortgage payment is due.

Regular readers of The PRDude know that I prefer the proverbial path less taken.  Hey, it’s more fun that way.  So rather than produce a dispatch on “Top 10 Public Relations Horror Stories” or some such nonsense, I’m ending 2011 with one of my many “Random Thoughts” posts.

NOTE: If you want to read what some self-proclaimed “experts” maintain are the biggest “bad” PR stories of the year, read this post from PR Newser. You’ll have enough to read well into 2012.

The PRDude Goes Intercontinental.  The nice folks at WordPress just sent me a cool report that provides analytics for my blog. (I recall reading some blog where the author asked for “buzz words” that need to be retired, and “analytics” was listed. Don’t get me started.)  Along with some of the expected stuff, I learned this: I have followers on every continent!  Well, not Antarctica.  But one person in Kenya reads my blog!  Those naysayers to the value behind and potential of online communications take notice:  Blogging is only going to be more prevalent, more relevant and more essential in the future.

This Ain’t Your Father’s Public Relations Anymore. For years, those of us in the industry have recognized the need to educate our clients, members of the media, the publics we try to influence and ourselves about the dynamic change in the way we practice public relations.  I think it’s often called a “paradigm shift.”  I just call it an entire new way to reach audiences and engage in dialogue.  In fact, the Public Relations Society of America, of which I’m a proud member, has launched an initiative to craft a new definition for “public relations.”  Hey, what’s yours?

What You Can Expect in 2012. One of the statistics revealed in my 2011 summary was a bit disturbing: The PRDude only published 30 posts all year.  What I hope to accomplish in 2012 is to publish a post weekly.  And, one strategy I’ll employ is to write shorter posts on a specific subject.  (So long my “Random Thoughts.”)  I’ve read good blogs should be in the 300 to 500 word range.  I must admit I’ve posted dissertations that have approached 1,000 words.

It’s time for Susan and I to head out for a nice New Year’s Eve dinner.  So, I’ll end this post with this thought:  Express yourself.  Share your thoughts and ideas. Communicate what you like and don’t like. We now have the tools to instantly exchange information that may make a positive impact on this world.  Make 2012 the year you commit to communicating.

Your thoughts are most welcomed.