A Hat Trick: Three Values Learned from Watching the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks

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

Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands — make that millions — of Chicago Blackhawks fans will flood the downtown area for a parade and rally to celebrate a truly remarkable achievement: The Chicago hockey franchise winning the 2013 Stanley Cup.blackhawks

I’m certain many members of the Blackhawks faithful will don their long-sleeved team sweaters emblazoned with the name of their favorite player on the back.  This, even though we’re three days away from July.

I won’t attend, but will be there in spirit; something to do with avoiding crowds. However, I did attend the 2010 celebration.  Read about it here.

In a June 12 post, I predicted the outcome:  The Blackhawks would win Lord Stanley’s trophy, certainly the coolest in all professional sport, in six games against the surging and powerful Boston Bruins.  Hey, I was right!

Stanley CupAlong with the joy of cheering on to victory the storied hockey team from my city, I gained the following by following the Blackhawks through the playoffs:

  1. Perseverance Pays Off.  The Stanley Cup playoffs, like life for most of us, are filled with highs and lows — only done on ice by tough men on skates holding sticks while chasing a hard rubber disc.  Down 3-1 in the second round, the Blackhawks roared back to defeat the Red Wings, then the Kings and finally the Bruins. They didn’t give up, even after key players like captain and center Jonathan Toews was hacked and speared and cross-checked mercilessly at times, or when they couldn’t capitalize on power plays. They played through these adversities; they persevered and they won.
  2. Role Players Count.  Epitomized by players like Andrew Shaw, a 21-year-old winger with more guts than brawn, and Michal Handzus, a wily, veteran center, some members of the roster were on the ice to fill a role.  They may not get the glory afforded the team stars, but their very presence, grit and determination to fill that role made them indispensable and critical to the team’s success.  In sports, and perhaps in life, too, role players are like Tonto: There would be no Lone Ranger without them.
  3. Leaders Lead Best When It Gets Tough. During the quest for the Cup, the Blackhawks were bashed for losing faceoffs,  not scoring on power plays and for failing to push back hard when being battered by the usually bigger opposing players. That led to criticism of Coach Joel Quenneville, Towes and defensive leaders like Duncan Keith.  But over 21 playoff games, these leaders were calm, steadfast and assertive when responding to media questions. They lead through wisdom and example.

Now it’s time for a virtual faceoff:  What did you learn from watching the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run?

The PRDude Gets Published (Again) on HMPR

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

Way back in 2010 — seemingly a millennium in the digital universe of today — I was asked to contribute a post to a great site called Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations.

A graphic defining the SMR, as first published by SHIFT Communications.

A graphic defining the SMR, as first published by SHIFT Communications.

The subject: The then relatively new communications medium called “social media news release” (SMR).  At the time, I was doing some consulting work that involved media relations.  I incorporated SMRs to augment traditional media relations tactics.

Some industry professionals at the time predicted SMRs would quickly put an end to the traditional news release.  Of course, it didn’t happen.  But please read my SMR post from 2010 and add your thoughts.  How have SMRs evolved?  Do you regularly incorporate them into current media relations?

The nice folks at HMPR recently asked me to contribute another post.

What to write about?  What to write about?

How about blogs!

I do have some experience on the subject, having published this blog for around 3.5 years and been a “ghost blogger” for other sites over the years.Blog

So here it is:  A just-published post on HMPR offering some advice to businesses and organizations on steps to take before joining the blogging community.

I offered four kernels of advice for two key reasons:  I wanted to keep the post to the prescribed copy length, and posts offering some numerical list — advice, things to watch out for, reasons to do this or that, etc. — are popular and get lots of visits.

So there.

Do you have further thoughts on what to do before launching a blog?

Reflections of a Chicago Blackhawks Fan on the Eve of the Stanley Cup Finals

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

A few hours from now, Chicago’s NHL franchise will square off against Boston’s NHL franchise in a series that will determine who claims hockey’s greatest prize — the Stanley Cup.  Yes, it’s a battle between two of the original six teams that epitomized the very best in the sport for the past 80 or so years.

Like all of the major professional sports, the National Hockey League started started small — very small, in fact — then grew to build revenue and reach a broader market.

Will Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews get to hoist the Cup again?

Will Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews get to hoist the Cup again?

Of course, I’m rooting for the Blackhawks, a team I have followed (albeit mostly from the proverbial “virtual cheap seats” better known as television and radio) off an on since I could remember.  Growing up, my brothers, my Polish-born grandmother and I watched the Hawks on our black and white TV set Saturday nights while our parents went out for a night on the town.  The play-by-play guy was the legendary Lloyd Pettit, and I can still hear Lloyd bark in rapid-fire bursts about the action taking place on the ice.  No, we didn’t have high-definition, wide-screen television with theater-quality sound; but we had Lloyd and our imaginations to provide some realism.

My grandmother (they were known as “Busha” in the colloquial) didn’t really understand the game that well; but she liked Hawk star center Stan Makita because she thought he was from the old country.  Actually, Makita was originally from what then was called Czechoslovakia, but like most pro players grew up in Canada.

The stars of those early1960’s Hawk teams — most notably Bobby Hull, The

Certainly one of the coolest crests (don't call it a logo) in all of professional sport.

Certainly one of the coolest crests (don’t call it a logo) in all of professional sport.

Golden Jet — equaled baseball players in status to me and my friends, as we did our best at hockey played on a frozen section of Eckhart Park around the corner from our home on Walton Street.  Everyone followed the Blackhawks and played hockey, from Polish-American kids like me to Izzy Molina, who was from Puerto Rico.

For years one of Chicago’s strongest sports franchises based on fan support, the Blackhawks sunk hard and fast in the first decade of this century. Attendance at home games plummeted; and the team lacked focus, leadership and wins.

New management, better players and certainly outstanding marketing and public relations efforts — surely public relations played some role — have brought the team back to the pinnacle of hockey.   In a post from 2010, I chronicled some thoughts of that magical year, when the Blackhawks won the Cup for the first time since 1961.

My prediction: Blackhawks in six.  And, that ain’t just a bogus line of PR.

Your prediction?

The Path to Accreditation: Nurturing Candidates to Earn the APR

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

Last week, a colleague and I completed what I believe was a very beneficial exercise for all parties involved:  We completed six 90-minute training programs designed to help local professionals  interested in earning the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential.APR_logo

The program was coordinated through PRSA Chicago, where I co-chair the Accreditation Committee with my friend Joyce Lofstrom, APR.  Three chapter members participated.

The curriculum leaned more toward the practical — navigating the APR process, using available study resources, completing the required Questionnaire, and preparing for the Readiness Review and computer-based Examination.  But we did tackle the subjects addressed on the Exam — the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) — or, what’s been identified as essential for the advanced practice of public relations today.

four stepsLooking back, I found the most productive session focused on crafting the framework for a public relations plan built on The Four Step Process (see one version at left) and  structured around realistic goals, sound strategies, measurable objectives and tactics that make sense.  At this session, our fourth, I could sense that the candidates were getting a much better grasp of effective, strategic public relations planning.  “Think strategy” and “Who are the publics” were often-repeated mantras.

Personally, I was energized by the program.  It gave me an opportunity think creatively, and it was a tangible way to give back to members of the profession.  Would I consider teaching a for-credit college course in public relations?

Perhaps.  But not just yet.

I’m still seeking that next great job in public relations, which is a job unto itself. And, I believe I can continue to add tremendous value to the right company or organization.

Back to Accreditation: It was instrumental in shaping my career and elevating my skills.   But, more work needs to be done to encourage greater numbers of professionals to pursue Accreditation.  Frankly, the credential is in trouble.

Read this commentary from William Murray, CAE, President and COO of PRSA,PRSA_logo just published in the June 2013 issue of  Tactics .  Statistics cited reveal a serious decline in professionals earning Accreditation. But I was pleased to read that PRSA leadership is taking a strategic approach to build more awareness and acceptance for the APR.

(I published this post in February to energize fellow APRs to become — and I will steal a often-used phrase from today — “brand evangelists” for the credential.  Haven’t received any feedback yet.)

In 2014, the APR credential turns 50, and next year I can mark my 10th year holding the Accreditation.  I’m thrilled three members of PRSA Chicago are on course to earn the credential, and I wish them success.

Just wonder what the next 50 years holds for Accreditation and the profession.   Please share your thoughts, in 50 words or more.

Dale J. Spencer Shares “Fear Not” Philosophy, Part II

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

Please join us for Part II of this Q & A with Dale J. Spencer, a remarkable Chicago-area guy who just launched a company to better market his motivational/inspirational public speaking career.

dale-suspenders-rev-254x300Mr. Spencer has addressed more than a dozen groups to date this year, and has presentations pending in 2013 with healthcare, education and other organizations.  Visit this page to view videos featuring Mr. Spencer.

1. Fear of public speaking is rated as the number 1 fear of most people, even above the fear of death.  Did you experience any fear when you began public speaking, and if so, how did you overcome it?

If someone had told me back in high school or college that I would willingly become a public speaker, I would have laughed myself silly.   Throughout high school and most of college, whenever I was presented with a public speaking situation, I would go completely blank after about 25 seconds.  I would then skulk back to my seat, a failure.  After my injury, a professor asked me to speak about what had happened to me before a group of 600,   I thought, “Was this guy crazy? Was I crazy?”  I finally agreed.

In truth, I wanted to face my fear of public speaking and overcome it if possible. Well, the day arrived, and I began speaking; 25 seconds in, and I was still speaking.  Sixty seconds in, still speaking.  Five minutes in, I was soaring and still speaking. I realized after a short time that everyone in the room was hanging on my every word; seeing that, realizing that, embracing that, flipped a switch inside of me that was indescribable.  I had never felt like that before, but I knew I wanted to feel like again. It was like a drug, and I am still addicted.  The problem now is finding larger and larger audiences.

2. Your message of “fear not” and teaching people to overcome their fear must have an impact on your audiences’ decision making process. Can you elaborate?

My objective is to have an impact on my audience’s decision making process!   I want to educate people to harness their fear and make it work for them in a positive way; to free themselves from the shackles of fear and embrace it instead. Once people take the negative impact of fear away, and instead infuse their fear with positivity, then they make better decisions. That’s my objective.

3. Your message is pretty universal and you offer three different programs tailored to specific audiences. What kind of audience do you feel benefits the most from your presentation?

I have spoken and worked with a myriad of audiences to face their fear. I can honestly say that whether I am speaking to students, or sales teams, or management, or housewives, everyone has fears and most people are empowering their fears to enslave their lives, both personally and professionally. My goal is to free them from their negative fear and teach them to cultivate their positive fear. So there is no real answer to your question other than all audiences can benefit from my presentations.

4.  Please share any other thoughts or insight on your speaking career and the “Fear Not” philosophy.

How long have you got? I am passionate about the role that fear plays in everyone’s life. I want to teach people that rather than hiding from fear, they should instead embrace it. I want to teach people to re-purpose their fears into fuel to attain great success in whatever they attempt. That’s really why I am transitioning to a full-time public speaker.

* * *

As a public relations professional, I’ve delivered presentations, been part of new business pitches and served as a panelist.   With each presentation, I get better and gain confidence.  I’m very impressed with those who make public speaking their careers because each audience presents its own set of challenges.

But after meeting Dale Spencer, I’m even more impressed by what this man has done with his life, and by his dedication to help those who need some inspiration on coping with life’s challenges. Do you know someone like Dale Spencer?

Dale J. Spencer Shares “Fear Not” Philosophy, Part I

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

Sometimes people are compelled to “reinvent” themselves in life.  You know, take the road not taken, march to a different drummer.  Okay, enough with the cliches.

(Rest assured: The PRDude has no plans to leave the profession, unless of course, Hollywood wants to make a feature film about my life and career.)

Dale J. Spencer

Dale J. Spencer

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Dale J. Spencer, a successful mortgage broker and public speaker who just launched a new company, Dale J. Spencer, Inc., to accelerate his public speaking services to deliver a message – “Fear Not” – to motivate and inspire people, from high school-aged students through seasoned businessmen and women.

Spencer’s life changed in 1988 when he sustained a spinal-chord injury while a student at Northern Illinois University.  While building his financial services career, Spencer began delivering presentations.  Today, he’s a highly sought-after speaker for audiences nationwide.

Here’s Part I of an edited conversation with Mr. Spencer.  (In the full disclosure department, I prepared and distributed a news release announcing the formation of Dale J. Spencer, Inc.)  Along with offering keen insight, Mr. Spencer demonstrates a wicked wit.

1. What factors prompted you to make the decision to transition from your successful career in the mortgage industry to public speaking and the “Fear Not” message?

The “Fear Not” message has been a guiding principal for me ever sense my injury.  It has been part of my message the past 20 years that I have been speaking.  I firmly believe that I can help people who are either making bad decisions based on fear or are paralyzed by fear and unable to make any decision.  The best way to do that is to reach more audiences.  The only way to do that is to increase my speaking engagements.  Fear is something that affects people of all ages, and I want to reach people of all ages, up til now, that majority of my speaking has been to school aged children, and that’s incredibly important.  But they are by no means the only ones negatively affected by fear.  My decision is really based on my desire to reach a broader audience.

2. What kind of research do you conduct and what visual aids do you employ to deliver a more effective presentation?

I interview a lot of people about fears impact on their lives both personally andDale-on-wheels-2 professionally. I have also done a fair amount of research into the nature of fear and its components.  I use images of various emotions, situations and outcomes to illustrate the variety of fears and the multitude of ways fear enters of daily lives.  I also provide a little workbook that audience members can fill in to help the message resonate with them after the presentation is over. Music is another method I use to help paint the emotional picture

3. How do you “read” an audience to determine if your message is coming across? What signs/body language to you look out for?

Well, if they are awake, that’s always a good sign.  Actually, if I don’t see the glow of a phone or iPad, that’s generally a good sign.  Also during the question and answer section the quality of questions really lets me know if I have reached the audience in a real and meaningful way. The audience talking amongst themselves, or crossed arms are also a red flag that I am not being as impactful as I might be, so I try to step up my game and do something unexpected to get the audience re-engaged

4. You’ve given hundreds of presentations over the past 18 years. Do any stand out as being special or significant?

First of all, I don’t appreciate your slight about my being vertically challenged. Now to your question about the most memorable presentation, that would have to be when I spoke to the Advocate Society of Trauma Nurses. That one meant a lot to me because I felt like I was paying it forward to their next paralyzed patient. I was able to help them understand what the guy laying in the bed, whose entire life had just been irrevocably changed was going through, and what little things they could do to help make things just a little less scary and terrible.

5. You also have produced some independent films. Can you please share some insight as to the nature and subject matter?

I know it sounds kind of random: “oh, and I also produced some independent films”. Actually, when you know the order of events, it makes perfect sense.  Here’s what happened: A fraternity brother and I wanted to bring unique stories to a broad audience. Along the way, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation offered a grant for an educational film and for a training film for speakers across the country. So, we submitted the applications and we were awarded the grants. We made one award-winning film that is still used today in high schools across the nation by the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation. We made a second film that trains speakers in the art of presenting in an educational yet compassionate way that reaches high school audiences.  That film is also still used by ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation.

Watch for Part II of this conversation soon.  Do you have any “life reinvention” stories to share?

One Job Over 40-Plus Years: A Conversation With My Brother Dan

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

There are a lot of “new normal” developments these days.  Gasoline will always cost more than $3.  Some segments of society, like teenagers, now only walk while texting.  And, most people will hold the same job for a couple of years and then move on.

An article published in Forbes magazine last year reported that a very high percentage of Millennials plan on keeping the same job for less than three years.  This trend can prove troublesome for companies because high turnover costs in terms of retraining, recruitment and lost or diminished productivity.

But, it’s not surprising that people born in the late 1970s/early 1980s — the Millennials or Generation X demographic — don’t stay in one place too long. After all, we’ve become a highly mobile society, and we get information on the run on mobile devices. Besides, what self-respecting, tattooed Millennial would want to toil years for some conglomerate when he or she could get funded through Kickstarter and launch a tech start-up?

My brother, Dan Bury, relaxing on his deck and enjoying retirement after more than 40 years with "the phone company."

My brother, Dan Bury, relaxing on his deck and enjoying retirement after more than 40 years with “the phone company.”

Employment didn’t always last about as long as the latest version of the iPhone.  My brother, Dan Bury, is testimony.  For more than 40 years, Dan had one job: With the “phone company.”

Yes, this was your father’s — at least, mine –“phone company,” once part of a monopoly called the nationwide Bell System that was broken up in 1984 following an anti-trust lawsuit by the federal government.  Now retired, I asked Dan to share some thoughts on his career.  Here’s an edited version.

The Apprentice: A guy from the neighborhood worked at Illinois Bell doing light delivery. He said they were hiring, so I went downtown and took a test.  I was over-qualified for that job, but did qualify for being a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) installer.   I worked for about a month, but then I had to report for a draft induction.  I went downtown for a physical at the Selective Service office and was told I had high blood pressure and a hernia, so I was rejected.  I called my boss and went back to work. This was in 1970.

I served a four-year apprenticeship, working with a journeyman, in the Humboldt District in Chicago. Then I got my union card and became a journeyman.  We worked in factories, offices and retail outlets installing large switching equipment. We could be on the job from two weeks to eight months.  The jobs required a lot of wiring.

From Bell, to AT&T, to Lucent, to Avaya: After the 1984 divestiture, I bell imageswent to work for AT&T.  The equipment really improved and the jobs were a lot shorter in duration.  In 1996, AT&T was spun off to Lucent Technologies.  It was the same job, but for a different company.  My benefits and 401k came with me.  Then, I moved on to Avaya.

Throughout my career, I was still a member of Local 134 of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).  When I started at Bell in 1970, there were 2,600 guys in our local; when I retired in 2011, there were only 15 guys left.

Back when I started, there were no other phone companies.  You couldn’t get a job without a union card.  Anyone who tried to get on a job without a union card didn’t have to be told to stay off the job; they just left.

Now, Dan has more time to do things like enjoying a summer day in his kayak.

Now, Dan has more time to do things like enjoying a summer day in his kayak.

From Hands on Training to Online.  I took any kind of training the company offered.  I’d get to leave Chicago to attend classes in Dallas, Denver, New York and New Jersey.  The training certainly was better in my early days.

Toward the end, the training was not that good, and it was mostly online.  It’s hard for someone my age to learn online when I was used to learning on equipment that you could touch.  Now, the younger guys are being trained on the new equipment, not the guys with 30 or 40 years of experience.

If I had to look for a job in my field now, I’d have to be retrained because everything’s so much more advanced. The first equipment I worked on had switches that you’d plug into a port; now, you’d dial in and do the work remotely.

Thoughts for Those Seeking a Career. If you find a job that you like, dedicate yourself to it.  I never had the idea to move from job to job.  I really enjoyed my early years with the phone company. I was not at the same desk day after day; there always was a change of schedule and meeting new people.

The workplace today  is much more cutthroat than it was before.  I went above and beyond for some customers, and they still weren’t happy.

Those are Dan Bury’s, thoughts on his career as a skilled technician.  Drop us a line (I mean, “reply to this post”), with your thoughts.  Do you plan to stay in one position for many years?