Random Thoughts, as Minutes Tick Away on 2014

By Edward M. Bury, (aka The PRDude)

Back in the early days, The PRDude occasionally posted “random thoughts” blogs because:

1. None of the “thoughts” merited a complete, self-contained blog.

2. I was still learning the nuances of being a blogger/online commentator.

3. At the time, it was seemingly a cool thing to do.

Now, with around three hours left in the day and the year 2014, here are some, well, random thoughts:

Highlights from 2014. Thanks to the cool people at WordPress, here’s a summary of traffic and other interesting facts generated this year by The PRDude blog. I published 41 new posts, some on public relations and communications, others on the “other stuff” that caught my attention.

What I find remarkable: That some posts from years ago continue to generate interest, and that people from 63 nations took the time to read my digital thoughts. And, I like to publish on Wednesdays.

Jay CutlerA “PR Plan” for the Bears Jay Cutler? With no snowfall to date this season and a lack of indictments of elected officials, Chicago media turned its attention to the plight of the hapless 2014 Chicago Bears.  Along with the ouster of the head coach, general manager and other staff, sports pundits and others shared thoughts on what to do with the Bears’ $126 million dollar man — quarterback Jay Cutler, whose popularity rating equals the team’s 5-11 record.

One radio talk show host offered this suggestion: “Cutler should do some good PR, like volunteer in a soup kitchen.”  Really? Here’s another silly example of how “good PR” will fix anything. No, Ms. Talk Show Host: Mr. Cutler needs to demonstrate leadership, throw touchdown passes and stop acting like a spoiled brat.

Is There Anything New in Food News? Here in Chicago (and I’m sure where ever there’s some level of a hipster population,)  restaurants boast menus and concepts based on proximity and small carbon footprints. Here’s what an online news source wrote about a soon-to-open sandwich shop in the Pilsen neighborhood: “(the restaurant) will feature fresh sandwiches on house-baked bread made with locally sourced ingredients, homemade potato chips, coffee and other lunch offerings.”

Haven’t you read this kind of description before? Perhaps a few times?  Last time I checked, Subway and Jimmy Johns baked their own bread.

There’s an App for That? Really, There Is.  Yes, there’s an Appapp these days for just about everything. And why do we need them? To make our lives better, easier, faster, stronger, etc. And, to give us time to download more apps.  I read about a local company that developed an app that let you scan your grocery receipt to determine when products would expire.  Last time I checked, wilting lettuce meant it was past its prime.

This post describes 15 useless apps.  I trust there are many, many more some (aside from the developers) would consider useless.  But apparently, people today find these digital benefits useful and perhaps necessary. But do these little pieces of software really make our lives better?

Finally, it’s time to wish all who read this blog — and everyone — a safe and happy New Year.  If you have random thoughts, please share them … this year or next.

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I Revel Alone, Now That Christmas Has Come*

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

Why the asterisk in the title?

Well, it’s also the name of the song below, an original I wrote a few years ago.  It was recorded this evening using my Dell laptop, so the quality is not the best.

But the message is original, and I hope you enjoy this composition, my Christmas gift to you.

I REVEL ALONE (NOW THAT CHRISTMAS HAS COME)

I revel alone
Now that Christmas has come
Me and the cats
Wait for her to come home

 

Lights on the tree
Sparkle only for me
Snow on the ground
My singular Christmas scene

 

Refrain:

Hours leading
To Christmas Day

Moments treasured
As time is swept away

 

Thoughts from the past
Pass like sand in a glass
I take stock of life
And wonder what else to ask

 

She opens the door
I hear footsteps on the floor
The cats are awake
No time to reflect anymore

 

I revel alone
Now that Christmas has come
I revel alone

 

 

Copyright 2014 Edward M. Bury

 

Touchdown! The Chicago Bears Don’t Have a “Public Relations” Problem

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

Yes, they lost again today. But the final score and outcome on the field did not culminate in the embarrassments of the past several weeks.

Now that the shouting is over for today, Chicago’s sports pundits better refrain from attaching “public relations” anywhere to print or digital coverage of the contest defeat.

Bears

How will the proud franchise survive this bout of “bad PR?”

I’m referring to, the Chicago Bears, our beleaguered professional football franchise — one with a long, storied and proud history.

Earlier today, the Bears lost to the playoff-bound Detroit Lions 20-14 during a somewhat entertaining contest at Soldier Field. The game, which I watched between important stuff like housekeeping chores, was close until the 4th Quarter when the Lions pulled ahead for good.

This scenario — hard-fought contests punctuated by gutsy play and good coaching — has not played out much during the 2015 season. The Bears have drastically underachieved, as evidenced by the team’s 5-10 record and last-place standing in the NFC North Division.

Local and national sports writers and talk show blabbers deservedly

Yes, I wonder what they're thinking about each other, too.

Yes, I wonder what they’re thinking about each other, too.

have blasted the Bears organization from the front office to the Gatorade guy.  (Kidding about the Gatorade comment.)

Plus, there’s a few other issues that have put a mammoth damper on the 2014 campaign: An often sullen (now benched) franchise quarterback with a $120 million contract who leads the league in turnovers; a clueless head coach who claims the team holds “good practices” but can’t explain why they continue to lose; not very special special teams; and a bellyaching offensive coordinator caught blasting said quarterback behind his back.

This dismal record and off-field performance, according to some in the media, translates to “bad PR” for the Chicago Bears. In print sports articles, I’ve read about the Bears’ “public relations nightmare” and media briefings that yielded a negative “public relations moment.”

Note to my media brethren: Here’s why the Bears are getting “bad PR” in 2014:

  • Outplayed on offense, defense and special teams.
  • Out-coached on most aspects of the game.
  • Ineffective, indecisive ownership.

In professional sports, in the business world and in the public sector, poor performance or scandal many times gets equated with the practice of public relations.

Rest assured, the Bears public relations staff — at least to my knowledge — has nothing to do with Jay Cutler‘s interception numbers, Marc Trestman‘s coaching decisions, the penalty-prone special teams squad or Aaron Kromer‘s commentary blunder.

In its essence, public relations is about building relationships. It has nothing to do with winning football games.

Certificate Great Step Forward for Public Relations Profession

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

In October, I received a letter offering some truly welcomed news for those of us who are serious about advancing the public relations profession.

College students can now complete a program that may offer advantages when seeking out that first job after graduation. That’s tremendous, but I’m hoping the program provides the inspiration for students to go even further in the study of public relations.

The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations was just initiated by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the consortium of public relations organizations that confers the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and the APR+M for military public affairs personnel.

Let me get the disclosure stuff out of the way: I served on the UAB, was on the Board during the early planning stages for the Certificate program (and the APR+M for that matter) and donated a few bucks to a fund needed to get the program started.

APR 50thThe letter I received regarding the Certificate — sent by my friend Susan Barnes, APR, Fellow PRSA, UAB Immediate Past Chair — stated that a “soft launch” proved successful. Of the 52 students who took the Certificate examination, 46 or 90%, passed.

A more robust effort is scheduled for fall of 2015.

But what’s truly exciting about the Certificate program is its potential to inspire future PR professionals to better grasp the foundations behind modern, strategic public relations and hopefully someday pursue the APR, the best post-graduate professional decision I ever made.

In this increasingly digitally-driven age, I’m concerned that young professionals may not get the same opportunities to develop into true strategists.

Not too many years ago, agency account staff and in-house communicators were basically generalists.  Everyone had to know how to craft messages, pitch stories, manage budgets and lots more.  Those dedicated to the profession eventually (well, hopefully) grasped the value behind public relations programs structured around sound strategies, research and measurable objectives.

Today, young professionals at large agencies are charged with a singular task, like monitoring Twitter feeds or handling media relations. I know: The decision to breed PR specialists may be necessary these days, especially in the big shops that represent global brands.

But is this practice good for the long-term growth and expansion of public relations and its practitioners? I think not.

* * *

Yes, The PRDude has written about the Universal Accreditation Board and Accreditation.