What Can Public Relations Do to Mitigate the Ultimate Crisis: Rocks from Space

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

Perhaps the most valuable counsel offered by public relations professionals is this: Identifying threats to the organization, and crafting a communications strategy should a threat escalate into a crisis. At least that’s what The PRDude, and certainly many other practitioners maintain. The belief that it takes years to build a reputation, but only minutes to have it come crashing down has lots of validity, especially today — when messages can be communicated in real time.la-fg-russian-meteor-pictures-20130215

Speaking of crashing down, over the weekend a so-called “space object” — or more precisely an asteroid — seemingly fell from the sky and crashed in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the exact location, but they believe it’s in Chebarkul Lake, which is 60 miles west of the city of Chelyabinsk.

You’ve probably witness video footage of the damage caused by this rock from space: Tremendous shock waves that shattered windows and causing lots of injuries; fortunately, I haven’t read of any fatalities.  The purported damage to property is estimated in the tens of millions.  And, that was from one rock.

But if that asteroid had a different trajectory, like into a populated area, the results could  have been catastrophic.la-epa-russia-meteorite2.jpg-20130216  But somehow, someone will find a way to earn a buck from falling space rocks, as evidenced by this eBay post offering a “65.20Ct or 13.00g Russia Natrual Rock From Space Russian Sikhote Meteorite #11.”  The current bid was around $20.

In the past, I’ve blogged about the value of public relations in modern society, and how effective, strategic communications is the right thing for a modern society.  Last fall, I shared some thoughts on Hurricane Sandy.  I didn’t have much direction on how public relations could make things better following a catastrophic storm, and not so sure what public relations can do should more and larger space rocks land on our planet.

An article published Saturday in the Los Angeles Times quotes Russian scientists who are lobbying for development of “an advanced space danger monitoring and warning system, and above that, a system capable of destroying such super bombs falling on us from the skies.”  Given the fact man has developed nuclear weapons that can destroy life as we know it, this doesn’t appear to be too far fetched.

So, perhaps those in change of things — you know, world leaders — could engage the best scientific minds to develop rockets that can shoot down serious space rocks before it hits you or me.  And, simultaneously, the best PR minds in their respective countries could draft communications plans that would:

  • Build greater awareness for the dangers of falling rocks from space.
  • Garner acceptance for the fact that falling rocks from space can happen at any time.
  • Get everyone to take action the next time we have credible evidence of falling space rocks.

For the action objective above, my advice: Duck.

Your thoughts?

Now, After Me: I am an Accredited Public Relations Professional!

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

There was some spirited online debate last week on a subject that’s close to my heart: The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential. The debate took place within the APR LinkedIn group and included comments from current and past members of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and APRs at large.  As of this writing, there were 26 comments — a pretty good number.

aprlogoLet me get the disclosure stuff out of the way: The PRDude (make that Edward M. Bury) is Accredited, and I served on the UAB for two three-year terms. If you’ve read previous posts, you’re aware that I’m passionate about the credential. It was the best professional achievement I accomplished since earning a Bachelor’s degree a long time ago.

Here’s what sparked the debate: A current UAB member started the discussion with a comment stating that the Board would focus efforts in 2013 on achieving these three goals:

1) Conclude beta testing on the entry-level credential in public relations;
2) Enhance the value of APR to Accredited members; and
3) Revitalize the APR brand to external audiences with a heavy focus on the HR and business communities.

Comments from APRs (you have to hold the credential to be part of this LinkedIn group) were generally supportive. Some questioned the value for  the proposed entry-level credential, a development I knew about and wholeheartedly support. But some questioned whether the UAB should focus more towards more on items 2 and 3 from the above list, rather than allocate efforts toward #1.

I posted two comments because I wanted to make these points clear:

  • UAB members dedicate their time and allocate personal resources (okay, out-of-pocket expenses for most) to attend three or four meetings annually and conduct Board work at other times — just to manage, administer and market the Accreditation in Public Relations program.
  • Promoting the value of the credential has long been a focus — but it’s a challenging task give the fact the dollars needed for effective marketing just aren’t there.

That’s why I’m drafting this post.  I’m hoping all APRs — those who earned Accreditation prior to 2003 under the essay-focused process, and those like me who earned it when the program was re-engineered and built around a computer-based examination — will do their part and promote the credential whenever possible.  Let’s start with this virtual cheer:  “I am an Accredited Public Relations Professional!

Now, don’t you feel better?

APRs are expected to provide exceptional public relations counsel and adhere to high ethical standards every day we’re on the job. And, I trust that’s the case for just about every practitioner who holds the credential. But perhaps we don’t do a good enough job in communicating what those three letters stand for, why we earned them and what they mean to the industry.

Fellow APRs, make it a practice to promote Accreditation. There are around 5,000 professionals who are Accredited today. That’s a pretty substantial number of communicators; collectively, let’s make our voice heard. Blog about the impact Accreditation had on your career. Promote it on social media platforms. Be part of Accreditation training within your company or PRSA Chapter.

Now, it’s your turn: If you’re Accredited or have an opinion on how to raise awareness for the value of Accreditation, please share.