Three Things I Learned on Measurement (and More) at Today’s PRSA Chicago Breakfast

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

There’s nothing like a breakfast networking/panel discussion event to kick off the day on a positive, productive note.  Add “measuring the effectiveness of public relations plans” to the mix and it gets even better.prsa chicago

Earlier today, I joined a few dozen colleagues from PRSA Chicago for a breakfast meeting on this subject: “How Do You Know if Your Programs are Working?” The focus was on measuring the effectiveness of public relations programs — the bottom-line reason clients pay for our services.  The discussion featured these panelists:

K.C. Brown, General Manager of Cision Global Analysts
Andrew McCann, Product Marketing Manager, Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Craig Werlin, Senior Director of Sales Engineering, Spredfast

The conversation was moderated by Blagica Bottigliero, Founder, Zlato Digital LLC, and a final shout out to Edelman Chicago for hosting the event in their way cool offices on the 66th floor of the Aon Center.   Here are three takeaways from the discussion.

  1. Good PR Measurement = Better Understanding of PR.  There’s a perceived gap in the public relations arena: Clients have unrealistic expectations on what public relations can deliver, but the public relations industry “under-delivers” on its potential for effective communications.  More effective measurement can close the gap.
  2. Measuring Social in the Marketing Mix.  It’s widely accepted (so I’ve read) that public relations professionals dominate effective use of social media in delivering client messages.  So, it’s essential for public relations to measure the impact of social media as part of the entire integrated message.
  3. Cool Infographics, Are, Well Cool, But … Graphic artists who can design provocative infographic works of business art are in demand today because infographics work.  If the budget doesn’t allow it, a well-designed, simple data table (Column A, Column B) can also have a dramatic impact.
A "vintage" infographic, circa 1801.

A “vintage” infographic, circa 1801.

Of course, there was lots of other great insight, knowledge and opinions shared from the panelists, who all work at companies that provide distribution and measurement resources used by the public relations industry.  (Learned a new phrase: “Transgression analysis.”) As an aside,  I would have liked to hear from a senior practitioner who developed and executed a national integrated campaign for that perspective, and I was surprised that in a conversation on public relations measurement, no one mentioned the Barcelona Principles.

(If you’re not familiar with the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles, read what The PRDude had to say in 2010:  Part onePart two.)

Finally, as noted, measuring whether a public relations campaign meets objectives is paramount. That holds true for pure PR programs that incorporate mostly traditional tactics (better known as “earned exposure”) or integrated programs that involve paid and owned messages.  We’ve come a long way from the days when a fistful of print clips demonstrated success.

For me, today’s breakfast also reinforced these thoughts:

1. The practice of public relations continues to advance, driven largely, of course, by technology; but also through its continued integration into the marketing mix.  As one panelist noted: “The consumer doesn’t care where he gets the message from.”

2. To stay vital, to stay relevant as a practitioner, I’ll need to keep abreast of advancements and best practices — and to learn how to use them.

What are your thoughts on the current state of measuring the success of a public relations campaign?

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How Would Chicago Cope With the Terrorism That Ravaged Boston?

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

As I draft this post the morning of Friday, April 19, much of the world is following the breaking news unfolding in and around Boston.  One suspect in the horrific terrorist bombings at the April 15 Boston Marathon is dead, and authorities are seeking the second suspect.  Authorities at this time believe the bombs were planted by brothers who immigrated here years ago and became part of American society.

I hope and pray that no other lives are lost.  I applaud the federal, state and local authorities who took control of the situation and quickly identified the suspects.  I am in awe of those first responders and ordinary citizens who rushed to help those stricken by the two blasts set off near the Marathon finish line.

NBC still image taken from video shows an explosion at the Boston MarathonI wish I could say, “This will never happen again.” But unfortunately, I believe there will be other attempts by cowardly monsters to cause harm and inflict terror for the sake of some sick ideology.  We still don’t know what led the two men to allegedly erupt bombs that killed and maimed; we do know that they used materials readily available to just about anyone.

And, I wonder: “How would my city cope if terrorists targeted Chicago?”  After all, Chicago is an international city of nearly 3 million people; it has iconic office towers, an extensive public transportation network, grand public spaces, major cultural facilities — places where a terrorist bomb would certainly cause injuries, damage and possibly death.

Like Boston — and cities and towns across our great country — Chicago has endured tragedy before and demonstrated resiliency to emerge stronger and more unified as Americans.  Should terrorists attack us again, here in Chicago or elsewhere, I remain confident we’d see the same level of rapid response from law enforcement officials, the same unbridled desire to help from first responders and the tremendous outpouring of support from around the nation.

Chicago would endure.

This past week I made four trips downtown using our public transportation subway system.  I had meetings in four office towers, including the 100-story Aon Center, in one hotel and in a major retail center in the heart of the North Michigan Avenue shopping district.  I did not — nor will I ever — let the prospect of madness stop me from traveling within my city and living in a free America.

One image from this horrible chapter of 2013 that stood out for me was the line of flags along the Marathon route.  These flags represented runners from nations competing in the race; they represented solidarity, freedom, sportsmanship and fairness. These flags stood tall as the carnage took place.  This is the image I will retain from this tragedy.

How will you remember the Boston Marathon bombing?

Crowdsourcing for Help on Public Relations Job Search Stragegic Plan

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

Visit my web site (for Edward M. Bury, APR, not The PRDude) and read my personal “tag line” of sorts:  “A Modern Strategic Communicator Steeped in Old-School Traditions.” The two key words from that passage to focus on for this post are “modern” and “strategic.”

My plan to secure that next great job in public relations is based on sound strategies and will incorporate modern forms of communications when appropriate.

crowdsourcing-525x350Crowdsourcing is one of those new online ways that’s pretty simple in concept. And, apparently, it has worked.  So, I’m trying it.  For the uninitiated, here’s a great definition of the concept:

“Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.”  (Source: article by Jeff Howe, 2006 Wired Magazine.)

So, here’s what I have in mind:  Below is an outline for my plan to to land a new job in public relations.  I’d like crowdsourcing-cartoonto “crowdsource” replies and feedback from the blagosphere, and beyond should any alien beings have insight to share.

Without further ado, my plan.

Goal: Secure a senior-level position in Chicago with a progressive company, agency or association where I’ll be challenged to use my strategic public relations, communications and management skills to help realize a mission and build revenues.

Strategies: Leverage my knowledge, skills and abilities in the B2B arena, with a concentration in the real estate industry.  Accentuate my dedication to the public relations profession through volunteer work on behalf of PRSA Chicago and by one of 5,000 practitioners to hold the Accreditation in Public Relations credential.  Showcase my outstanding oral and written communication skills.

images crowdObjectives: Secure at least five job or informational interviews monthly with decision-makers.  Grow referral base to add at least two new sources monthly.  Receive at least three job offers by August, 2013.

As for specific tactics, I’ll hold off on sharing those until after I get some feedback from you.  And, I know: that third objective is quite optimistic.  But, hey, what’s the alternative?  To be pessimistic?  That’s not happening because I remain very confident that I have value in today’s market.

Now it’s your turn in this experiment.  Let the crowdsourcing begin.

Three Things I Learned from Today’s Webinar on Online Content

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

Cold. Bleak. Rainy.

Those three words describe today’s weather in Chicago. So what better way — between searching for that next great job in public relations — to spend a dreary day than indoors and taking in a no-cost webinar. Held a few hours ago, the webinar was called:  Connecting the Content Dots: How to Increase Content and Messaging Visibility with a Multi-Channel Distribution Strategy.

logo-prn-01_PRNThat’s a long title, and I learned a lot.  But below are three things that stood out.

First, let me thank the sponsors — PR Newswire, the long-standing news release distribution service, and Marketo, a company founded in 2007 that provides marketing software.  The hosts for the hour-long event were Michael Pranikoff, Director of Emerging Media for PR Newswire, and Marketo’s VP of Marketing Content and Strategy, Jon Miller.

Okay, on to the stuff on online content that stuck in my mind.

1. Visuals are King. Mr. Miller presented a very compelling comparison.  An e-book Marketo offered on its site has resulted in some 17,000 downloads, quite an impressive number.  But a slide show infographic presentation did better.  Much better at 328,000 views.  Statistics were cited that content with graphics did a 35 percent better job at enlisting engagement than content with just text.

2. Some B2B Businesses Lack Soul.  Not “soul” as in the music pioneered by James Brown, but as in having a personality.  Or, in this case, a lack of personality within their online content.  One way to provide Marketosome needed personality was offered by Mr. Miller.  Marketo produced a music jingle (remember those?) to market its Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation online book.

3. What Makes a Good CCO. Thankfully, smart companies are putting experienced, modern communicators who understand online communications into the role of managing its blogs, webinars, videos, graphics and other content.  And, thankfully, this person is more than likely getting the title of Chief Content Officer, rather than some goofy, “new normal” moniker like CDR (Commander of the Digital Realm).

Digital communications continues to evolve and play an increasingly more important role in the marketing mix. Those of us in public relations and marketing need to keep current, or fall into the “yesterday’s news” category.  In this time of transition, I’m taking every opportunity to keep pace with the always charging forward technology.

What are you doing?

The PRDude is Goin’ Country, Well at Least During Tonight’s ACM Show

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

In a couple of hours, the stars of country music will  be decked out in their finery for the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards show. Yes, this is Nashville’s biggest night of the year, even though the awards ceremony will take place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, a town that used to be home to real cowboys before mobsters, tourists from Sandusky and Top Chef masters moved there and changed the place forever.zine

The PRDude will always fly the flag of rock and roll first. But he’s a fan of all good music, including country.  (A quick aside: What happened to the “western” in what used to be called “country and western” music? Did someone abscond with it?  Could I license the rights and make a fortune?)  In fact, one of my favorite artists of all time is Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys.  The so-called King of Western Swing, Mr. Wills was the first rock star, I think.  But that’s for another post.

Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing.

Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing.

Last September, during a visit with my great friend Butch West of Austin, Texas, I listened to lots of country music.  Country was playing in our drive from Austin to Galveston, and during our time at Butch’s lake house on Lake Travis.  (Read about that sojourn in this post on Galveston.) And, at places we stopped for a burger or a beer — you guessed it — we heard country music.

Back here in Chicago, I took to listening to our local country radio powerhouse — US99. I became a fan of artists I never heard of before.  Artists like Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and the Band Perry.  (Another aside: Modern country artists don’t have names like Buck, Conway, Loretta, Dolly or Merle anymore.  Not sure why.)us99-12

My indoctrination in modern country music also proved enlightening.  As a public relations professional, I’m always interested in how a brand is perceived by its stakeholders; and, as a “man of letters” of sorts, I like to listen to the lyrics.  Here’s what I ascertained about country music, and the people depicted in country songs today:

Vehicles. Pickup tucks — basically Fords and Chevys — are the only vehicles driven by anyone who’s country. Don’t expect hear about a Kia Sorrento or even a minivan in a country song.  Not sure why, but I know there’s some fascination in having a vehicle with a tailgate.

Alcohol. Beer and whiskey.  Or whiskey and beer.  That’s all country people consume.  Okay, perhaps a glass of wine.  I’ve yet to hear someone longing for an Aberdeen Sling or a Chica Marmalade in a country song.  (I’m not kidding; these are real drinks.)

Domiciles. Country artists must all have front porches, and many apparently have barns.  Extra points are given for front porches with swings and barns that have actual livestock inside.  Some real estate developer could probably make a killing by introducing country artists to balconies and penthouses.

I’ll watch the first hour of tonight’s ACM program, before the television gets commandeered by Susan for the season debut of “Mad Men.”  So, I’ll have to wait to learn who takes home the coveted “Artist of the Year.”  If I was a betting man, I would say that person drives a pickup while chugging a Coors Light en route to the barn.

A Rocky Mountain High Week Remembered in Thoughts and Images

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

Even a late winter/early spring storm named Virgil, a delayed flight on Southwest Airlines, bungled baggage handling and a near breakdown at the Budget auto rental counter didn’t stop Susan and I from having a thoroughly enjoyable seven-day visit to Colorado.  This was our regular spring break getaway week, always mandated by Susan’s teaching schedule.

Of course, this year it meant a lot more to me because it gave me a week to relax and regroup before launching a serious search for that next great job in public relations.  And relax and regroup we did, thanks to awesome people, surroundings and weather.  For the record, the beer was pretty good, too.

After finally getting awarded our cool Ford Fusion — complete with Sirius radio so we could listen to the Elvis Channel and others — we made the relatively short drive from Denver International Airport to our final destination for the next five  days, the resort town of Estes Park.  Freeways got us most of the way there, but it was winding, climbing two-lane highways from the cool town of Lyons up into the mountains.  Fortunately, the roads were plowed, I know how to drive on snow, and we had The King of Rock and Roll to keep us company.

After a stop for provisions, we finally made it to the River Stone resort, halfway between Estes Park and the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Yes, there was lots of snow, thanks to Virgil. Want proof?  Here’s a short photo gallery:

On the trail to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

On the trail to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A gorgeous meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A gorgeous meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The view from our condo at River Stone Resort the morning after our arrival.

The view from our condo at River Stone Resort the morning after our arrival.

The PRDude (you guessed it) somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The PRDude (you guessed it) somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The entrance to the historic, and reportedly haunted, Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

The entrance to the historic, and reportedly haunted, Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

From the above, you can ascertain that were in a pretty cool party of the country, full of spectacular scenery mostly unspoiled by man.  It was inspiring for this guy from the flatlands of Chicago to walk outside and gaze on snow-capped mountain splendor. We even saw a herd of elk one evening right behind River Stone.

Equally impressive, however, were the people we met.  The Coloradans we encountered at Kind Coffee, at the Safeway store, at the Public Library,in restaurants and our hosts Sue and Linda and River Stone were warm, friendly, inviting and genuine.  Motorists were polite and respectful of other drivers.  I can better understand why people want to live here: Mountains, lakes and rivers — and some of the most welcoming people I’ve met.

A shout out to the Colorado tourism folks: This public relations professional suggests you build awareness for the warmth and friendliness of your people, along with the world-class ski resorts and mountain meadows.  In his classic song “Rocky Mountain High,” the late John Denver sings about the virtues of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in somewhat of a spiritual sense.  He got that right, but should have added a verse about Coloradans.

What are your thoughts on Colorado and Coloradans?