So Long 2012, And Hopefully So Long to Some Other Stuff

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

By now, friend of The PRDude, you probably have read 10 or more “Top 10” lists.  These appear regularly online and in print and broadcast communications, but they’re especially prevalent now — as we count down the days and hours of another year.

Rest assured, you won’t read any “Top 10” or “Top (fill in the blank)” list in this space today. (You can get a way-cool summary and analysis of traffic from this blog courtesy of the way-cool people from WordPress.)   What I plan to do is to just offer some thoughts on public relations and “other stuff,” as keeping with the tag line and theme of this blog.  You might get 10, but probably less because I want to finish soon.  Full disclosure:  I’m writing this late Monday morning and looking forward to a nap so I can stay up to midnight.

Here goes.

top 10Let’s Put a “-30-” to Top 10 Lists.  Those of us how came out of the journalism business know that it was traditional to type “-30-” to denote the end of a story.  Why don’t we put a “-30-” to the preponderance of year-end lists, especially Top 10 lists.  Why not Top 9 or Top 11? .  Seriously, it’s kind of a communications cop out, often predictable and generally just takes up space.  Why not just follow topics of interest year-round?

Let’s Put More Focus on Defining “Public Relations” in the 21st Century. Earlier this prsa_logoyear, the Public Relations Society of America unveiled a new definition for “public relations.” The good folks at PRSA employed a modern communications tactic — crowdsourcing — and combined it with good old-fashioned research.  I participated in the effort, and I was thrilled that the new definition included the phrase “strategic communications process.” It’s strategy that separates true practitioners from the hucksters and incompetents.  But I think the definition needs to be augmented with references to the traditional (like media relations) and the always evolving (like social media) forms of communication.  The next Pinterest will change PR strategies and tactics for many of us.

snarkyLet’s Cease with Snarky-Themed PR/Communications Blogs. We’ve all read them, and many of us — The PRDude included — have contributed to posts or forums that have little to do but give the opportunity to share some mean-spirited thought under the guise of humor or adding to the general conversation.  Do we really benefit from your opinion or my opinion on what “buzzwords” to eliminate from our daily communications?  If I want to “think outside of the box” or “throw someone under the bus,” I will.  But please stop using “non uncommon” because “common” works better!

I could go on, but that’s it for now. If I could provide a summary to the above, and hopefully to all my commentary here, it’s this: Those of us who define ourselves as “public relations professionals” should adhere to high ethical standards, only communicate messages that offer some contribution to the public well-being, steadfastly practice open disclosure and continue to explore and promote new and more effective ways to communicate.  Want more? Read my October post on this subject.

The word count has just gone north of 500, so it’s time to call it a day and a year. Thanks again to all who digest my thoughts. What topics/issues should The PRDude address in 2013?

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A Q & A Conversation with Nick Kalm of Reputation Partners Public Relations

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Last month, The PRDude published a post that chronicled one of the highlights of his long (and hopefully influential and distinguished) career: Being featured in a question-and-answer blog published by a fellow blogger, public relations pro and best of all — fellow dude.

Here, I take the role as the guy — make that “dude” — posing the questions. My interview subject is Nick Kalm, founder and president of the Chicago-based Reputation Partners Public Relations, a boutique firm that, well, here’s what I harvested from their web site:  “At Reputation Partners, we are trusted corporate reputation consultants who earn our clients’ trust by providing effective counsel, delivering the highest quality work and generating meaningful results.”

The agency just celebrated its 10th anniversary, quite an accomplishment for any business in these ever-changing times. Here’s an edited version of my conversation with Mr. Kalm.pic-nick

1.  Public relations can be a stressful way to make a living and is not for everyone. What compelled you to pursue public relations as a career?

I kind of backed into it at first.  I was a political science major in college, and my career goal was to work in Washington for a Congressman or Senator. When I couldn’t find a job in Washington, I returned to the New York City area and found a job in public relations working in the pharmaceutical industry. There really are a lot of similarities between public relations and working for the government.  You have to reach a broad swath of the public and try to convince them to be in favor of something or against it.

2.  After a very successful career at the nation’s largest independent public relations firm (Edelman), you decided to launch your own firm. What three reasons (or more, or less) prompted that decision?

At Edelman, I had a great career working on behalf of some very large multi-national public and private firms.  I attended an event for entrepreneurs and was encouraged to start my own firm. I was 41 years old at the time, and said to myself, “If not now, when?”  I knew I could always go back to the agency or corporate world. But, so far it’s turned out great.

3.  Say I’m seeking PR counsel. Why would I select Reputation Partners over the firm down the street?

Clients go to big PR firms because they need strategic thinking and the depth and breath of experience those firms can offer.  You can get that from Reputation Partners, but at a much more cost-effective rate.  We provide the same level of services and are focused on delivering the same kind of results. We provide all of our clients with senior-level management attention.Reputation Partners

4.  The PRDude has been championing the practice of effective and ethical public relations. Do you believe our profession needs to do a better job of promoting good PR versus hucksterism?

It’s a great question. I think there are many different kinds of public relations practices.  Not to put what we do on a pedestal, but there are practitioners out there who aren’t as ethical or of the same level of quality.  There are a number of slippery characters in the business, and they’re dragging down the entire profession.  We’re not defense attorneys.  Companies don’t have a right to PR counsel.  There are some entities that should not be represented by public relations firms for ethical reasons. I see this happening at big and small firms alike: They tell the client what the want to hear and promise results they can’t deliver.

5.  Back in the day, there were lots of “PR legends,” men (and some women) who pioneered the practice. Who’s at the forefront of public relations today?

They really are few and far between.  Earlier you mentioned Edelman.  I think Richard Edelman is one of the few intellectuals running a major PR firm.  I can’t think of anyone else who comes close.  Ours is an industry that suffers from a big perception problem.  I think there are few programs on college campuses that focus on public relations. Some colleges, of course are doing a good job preparing students for careers in public relations.  We work in a very important profession that impacts people in their day-to-day lives in a very meaningful way.

Do you have questions for Mr. Kalm?  Or The PRDude?  Pose early and often.

The Madness in Connecticut, Unfolding in Real Time

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

If you’re like me, someone who needs to be attuned to the news, you’re probably already aware of the madness that took place earlier today at a grammar school in Connecticut.

During my work day, I checked reports online.

I saw the images posted: Kids, frightened certainly, as they were led from the school. Parents embracing, crushed with grief. Cops, doing their best to provide some semblance of calm.

Of course, we have not seen images of the carnage, what took place on this day at Christmastime.

Nor should we.

With today’s right-to-the-second technology, I was able to get facts as they unfolded: About the disturbed 20-year-old alleged killer, about the school and community.  I’m sure there will be facts unfolding shortly about heroism in the midst of the madness.

This will happen again, perhaps. Madness caught in real time.

I’ve had enough for today.