By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude
Buenas noches. I mean, good evening. A few days back from our recent vacation trip to Puerto Rico, and I’m still flaunting my command of Spanish. Along with the aforementioned greeting, I mastered ordering beer and asking directions to the men’s room.
Last week, Susan and I spent a delightful week in Old San Juan, the commonwealth’s capitol city, rich with culture, history, architecture, beauty, food and drink. In Part 1 of this report, I’ll chronicle some thoughts from a real PR guy from, well, PR.
I’m referring to my friend and former colleague, Carlos Rivera, APR, Executive Partner at Partners Communications of Bayamon, Puerto Rico. I’ve known Carlos for six years, as we served together during my years on the Universal Accreditation Board. Carlos represents Asociacion de Relacionistas Professionales de Puerto Rico, one of the nine organizations that make up the UAB.
During dinner at a hip restaurant called Casa Lola just across the beach in the resort district on the Atlantic Ocean, Carlos shared these thoughts on his business and the state of public relations in Puerto Rico as we drank white wine and dined on some tremendous food.
The Client Roster. Partners Communications represents some pretty well-known brands like United Airlines for media relations, crisis communications and other duties. Carlos said the shop just picked up a distributor of consumer products, and we discussed some strategies on how to incorporate Facebook and other social media to help build awareness. Perhaps use Facebook to drive traffic to an event.
The PR Business in PR. Overall, business for practitioners on the island is good, especially for the small and boutique agencies like Partners Communications. Clients are recovering from the lean years that battered budgets everywhere and many can’t afford the hourly rates and retainers charged by the agencies flaunting household names.
The APR Needs a Push in PR. The Accreditation in Public Relations credential is available to practitioners in Puerto Rico; but like here stateside, the big agencies and corporations have not fully embraced the value of the APR and the leaders are not making the credential a priority for those committed to the profession.
As noted above, my Spanish is somewhat limited. Make that really limited. But during our time in Puerto Rico, I experienced a modern nation (okay, commonwealth) with diverse, passionate people and a relatively thriving economy. Yes, there were pockets of poverty, but you’ll find that everywhere.
Have to believe that an enhanced public relations community could help the commonwealth build awareness for its key economic drivers — tourism, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. (Yes, pharmaceuticals.) Carlos said many of the big shops all have offices on the island, as noted, there are plenty of opportunities for start up players.
We noticed a grand new mixed use real estate development under construction along the harbor. Real estate — that’s the industry I know best. Hey Carlos: Need another partner?
Next time, I’ll provide more of a travelogue on our days and nights in Old San Juan.