Trying to Make Sense of Sandy

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

Where to start.  Where to try to comprehend the ramifications — short and long-term — following the destruction brought on by wind and water along the most densely-populated part of the United States.

As I write this, the reports of what’s left of parts of the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey keep arriving following the very unlady-like visit from Hurricane Sandy.

This one from the New York Times was posted online just a few minutes ago.  Some accompanying images are below.  More stories and images will come: Stories of survivors and rescuers, flooding and burning, and unfortunately, death.  The images and video will put all of the stories into a perspective we can see and hear.

Here in Chicago, we’ve had rough battles with Mother Nature.  There have been floods and destructive winds, and of course, we can get lots of snow.  You might remember that I chronicled a 20-inch snowfall in a past post.

But I’ve never witnessed firsthand the kind of utter devastation that has struck the Eastern seaboard over the past 48 hours.  I, frankly, I’m not sure what else to say.  Just can’t make sense of what’s happened and what will be the long-term outcome for the people, places and businesses who were in harm’s way.

In my life, I’ve visited New York City many times and remain fascinated by this metropolis. Read this post from a year ago for some insight.  There’s no place like it in this great nation. I’ll be back, and there’s no doubt New York City will be back.

Back to some conclusions from Sandy; here are a few:

  • There will be more storms like Sandy. They’ll cause destruction, and those of us who live far from the coasts will why choose to live there, and why they always rebuild. But rebuild they will.
  • People will blame the government for not doing enough, and there will be times when those responsible for our well-being will fail. But there will be more instances of quiet heroes who do their jobs well but stay out of the spotlight.
  • Sandy will be compared with other catastrophic storms that have battered our coastal areas.  Experts will compare the lives lost and billions of dollars in property damage and lost business.  But it’s impossible to accurately measure the impact to the human psyche of those affected.

In a 2010 post, I determined it necessary to blog about the horrific scene following the earthquakes that struck the island nation of Haiti.  Then I thought there would be some role for public relations to play in Haiti’s recovery.  Didn’t have many solid strategies.

Watching what’s taking place out east, I still don’t.  What about you?  Can you “make sense” of storms like Sandy and what’s left in their wake?  If you’re a public relations professional, what can members of the profession do to help?

Quick Career Online Tune Up. When Was the Last Time You Had One?

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

Just a few minutes ago, I made a few subtle — but important — edits to my online profile on LinkedIn, perhaps the most “serious” of the big three social media platforms.  Okay, I guess Pinterest has made a case for there being a Number Four.

Here’s what I did:Image

1. I added “association management” to my profile.  Just two words, but noteworthy and accurate because I’ve spent around one-third of my professional career in the association management industry.  For the record, according to the American Society of Association Executives, there are a lot off us out there, and we represent just about every segment of business and society. I just happen to work for an association that represents real estate interests.

2. I posted some information and links on the new Sections feature of LinkedIn. (Here’s how to find it: From your profile, look for this content:

NEW Add sections

Add sections to reflect achievements and experiences on your profile.

There are a few Section options. I added information on my work on the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and a link to my web page that contains a few published works on public relations and real estate topics.

That’s it.

So why did I augment my digital footprint? Well, it was quick, easy and free. And, it’s kind of reflective of our world today. We need to stay current and keep pace with technology’s seemingly limitless breakthroughs and upgrades. Or, at least we think we do.

During my career I have volunteered on a few other occasions, but I choose to put only my UAB work for now — because it’s the most recent and significant. And, I have published hundreds of works by my byline (Edward M. Bury, not PRDude), but felt it was more prudent to direct viewers to a page with a handful of work.

So, will my “online tune up” yield any tangible, measurable results? You tell me. Visit me now on LinkedIn and let me know. By the way, when was the last time you had one?

Hey PRSA: Here’s What I’d Do to Advance The Profession

By Edward M. Bury, APR

Rains and wind pummeled much of Chicago Sunday, stripping away the fall colors from many trees here in my neighborhood.  The middle of October kind of signals the start of the end of the growing season around here.

Looking North on the 2900 block of North Whipple Street — before the fall.

For example: The scene adjacent to this image — taken just a week ago — shows trees in full fall display. It doesn’t look like that now around here, and probably in lots of other places.

And, that’s okay, because that’s what’s supposed to happen.  Things change.  It’s part of the “natural order of things,” you know.

This may be mixing metaphors, but something similar took place on the other side of the continent from here.  At the 2012 Assembly  of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held in San Francisco, a slate of candidates was nominated (and I trust later elected) to serve the interests of the 20,000-plus members of the Society.  They’ll be entrusted with guiding the Society and replace other leaders who served admirably the year before.

For the record, I know some of these folks personally, having worked with them on the Universal Accreditation Board.   I’m confident they’ll do a fine job, and I maintain that men and women who volunteer and are elected to national office for the public relations profession probably do so for three key reasons:

1.  They believe in the mission of PRSA, which is to “Advance the Profession and the Professional.”

2. They gain value in serving the Society and working with top-level professionals from across the nation.

3. It’s cool to tell colleagues you’re part of the PRSA national hierarchy.
Okay, just kidding about the last one, although there may be some truth there.  Back to reality.  I applaud the incoming national leaders and wish them much success in 2013.  If any of the new officers read this post, please accept my congratulations.  And, when you have the time, please consider these suggestions on how to Advance the Profession.

Stress Ethical Practices.  There’s no place in modern public relations for stretching ethical guidelines.  It doesn’t matter if  it’s a colossal ethical campaign blunder committed by a national firm or poor judgment from a sole practitioner, this nonsense has to stop if public relations is expected to be respected in the C-Suite or on Main Street.  Last month, PRSA held Ethics Awareness Month.  Those uncertain of how ethics applies to public relations should learn.  Now.

Continue to Define What We Do. For some reason, the world does not comprehend the difference between public relations and other types of communications.  In March, PRSA used crowdsourcing to engage professionals to define public relations.  I wholeheartedly agree with the definition, and I do my best to promote it.  The one word within that drives it home: Strategic.  Without a program strategy, we’re delegated to be the people who blow up balloons at parties.

Drive Home the Value of Accreditation.  In the “full disclosure” department, I served on the UAB for six years and have been passionate about promoting the merits of earning the Accreditation in Public relations credential.  The credential has been under fire, probably since it was founded.  But in a profession without licensing, it’s one tangible way to identify a professional who has demonstrated at least competency in the fundamentals necessary in modern public relations.

So, here’s a virtual toast to the 2013 PRSA Leadership Team.  If you could share thoughts on how to improve the profession, what would they be?