Going Back to School: What I Learned During Loyola University’s Career Week

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

One tangible benefit of my new position with a university here in Chicago is this: I’m surrounded by people — faculty, staff and students — and in an environment dedicated to learning.  In fact, I plan to apply for graduate school soon; but that’s the subject of another post, whether I’m accepted or not!

The subject of this post centers on education of sorts, more precisely my participation in sharing thoughts and insight with young people who will lead the communications industry in the decades to come. And, most importantly for this discussion, what I took away.

Primary_3colorOn Wednesday, I participated in a workshop of sorts called “Resumes that Pop & Interviews That Wow,” hosted by the Loyola University School of Communication. It was part of a Career Week initiative organized by the university, something I would have welcomed 30-plus years ago when I was finishing my education at Illinois State University.

(Hey, I have only good things to say about ISU, as noted in this two-part “travelogue” from July of 2014: Read part one. Read part two.)

The late afternoon event brought together public relations, advertising, marketing and other communications professionals and Loyola students for a resume review and informal mock job interview.

My one-on-one conversations were with two guys who hailed from metropolitan Chicago, and young ladies from places farther away: San Diego, Northern Ireland and China.  Each encounter was rewarding for me, and hopefully for the students.

I trust by the time we concluded, the students got a better understanding on how to craft a resume and pursue employment post-graduation.  So what did I learn?

Here are three takeaways:

1. Journalism as a Course of Study is Alive and Well. One of the students I met wanted to work as a journalist upon graduation, specifically in community journalism. Others had Loyolasome experience writing and editing collegiate and other print or online publications.  This was refreshing because society needs and should value the work of trained, impartial journalists. I’m gladdened to know the profession is still part of the curriculum at Loyola.

2. Industry Professionals Gladly Share the Wealth. It was refreshing and gratifying to be part of a contingent of some 25 communicators of varying degrees of experience — all willing to give two hours of their time to give future communicators advice on navigating the often challenging job market.  The eagerness to share reminded me of the ISU motto: “Gladly we learn and teach.”

3. The Future of Communications is Looking Pretty Good. All five of my student visitors were poised, smart and accomplished. All were receptive to my critiques and resume suggestions: Use a sans serif font, include a summary paragraph, cite measurable and quantifiable results. And, perhaps most importantly, all expressed a strong desire to someday soon make their respective mark as communicators.

As noted earlier, I plan to go back to being a student myself (part time, of course) one day soon. Rest assured, I’ll gladly learn … and teach if asked to do so.

 

What Tom Brady and the New England Patriots Completed During “Deflategate” Crisis

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

Even casual fans of NFL football probably know that star quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots has completed a lot of passes during his illustrious career. But if you watched Brady and his coach, Bill Belichick, during separate media interviews Thursday, they collectively threw a lot of passes but only landed one completion.

Okay, enough with the football metaphors.  Here’s what I’m trying to communicate.

Brady

Nice cap, Tom. And, you look pretty cool with the four days of growth. But your flippant remarks were disingenuous and unconvincing.

Brady and Belichick — nice ring to it, and I don’t mean Super Bowl — appeared before reporters to respond to charges that someone within the Patriots organization purposefully deflated 11 of 12 footballs used during the January 18 AFM championship win against the Indianapolis Colts.  The prevailing theory: Slightly deflated balls are easier for Brady (or any quarterback) to toss to receivers; and by the way, it’s a violation of NFL rules.

Call it cheating for good measure.

The media has dubbed this crisis “deflategate,” which also has a nice ring to it. And to respond, the Patriots marched out Brady and Belichick to field questions from reporters regarding how these balls got deflated.

Belichick

Coach Belichick claimed he had no knowledge of how 11 footballs got under inflated.:”And, if you don’t believe me, you can kiss my (fill in the blank.)

That’s the only instance so far when the Patriots did something correct in managing this crisis: They brought out top-level representatives to field questions and provide answers.  But they dropped the ball (sorry, couldn’t resist) regarding two other aspects of managing a crisis:

1. Get Your Message Out Soon. The Patriots organization waited too long to address the issue. I found this statement from the CEO and Chairman on the team’s website. It was posted this evening.

2. Provide an Explanation. Brady and Belichick denied any knowledge of how the footballs were less that regulation in terms of air and offered no direction or next steps to rectify the problem.

From the video clips I watched of Brady and Belichick, both were totally unconvincing, with the coach appearing defiant.

I’m sure the Patriots have a qualified public relations staff that offered quarterback and coach direction on how to help address this crisis. That’s what I hope.

But in the win-at-all costs era of professional sports, I think teams will overlook cases of “bad PR” — even if it involves breaking the rules to get an advantage — in order to hoist the championship trophy.

 

Is The 24-Hour News Cycle A Barrier to Earning Accreditation in Public Relations?

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

A few years ago, I asked a friend — a successful and very accomplished public relations agency vice president — why she hasn’t pursued earning the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential.

In the agency world, is public relations really a 24-hour business?

In the agency world, is public relations really a 24-hour business?

“There’s just not enough time,” she said. “It’s not like the days when you were in the agency business. Clients expect us to be available any time of the day … and night.”

Ah, the agency business.

I left my last agency position in 1998. Public relations professionals (and the rest of the world) communicated through email and maintained web sites back then. But cell phones were just taking hold, social media as we know it wasn’t invented, and Google hadn’t even been launched.

If a client failed to reach you during business hours, the question or issue often had to wait until the next business day. As noted by my friend, that’s apparently not the case today, and indeed, it might be a road block to Accreditation for some.

In late December, 2014 PRSA President Joe Cohen, APR, published a post that outlined steps to strengthen the APR. One measure on the table:  A proposal to grant the credential to PR professionals who have 20 or more years of experience and “who have demonstrated a record of commitment to lifelong learning, and adherence to practicing the enduring principles of public relations.”

Glad this concept wasn't as big back when I was an agency guy.

Glad this concept wasn’t as big back when I was an agency guy.

These 20-year-plus professionals — from the agency arena, private sector or association/non-profit — would not have to take and pass the online Comprehensive Examination.

That’s a game-changer to me and the hundreds of other public relations practitioners who earned the credential since 2003. We had to go present and defend a PR plan based on the four-step process, complete the Readiness Review and ultimately, pass the Comprehensive Examination.

I trust an underlying factor to the proposal is to allow those who might not have the time to commit to the months of study the opportunity to join those Accredited members who are committed to the ethical practice of public relations, the profession and lifelong learning.

Clearly, something needs to be done to boost the numbers of professionals earning Accreditation and the status of the credential in today’s business communications landscape.  But I am not convinced that this proposal is the answer.

Will those who are “granted”Accreditation actually respect and recognize the value of the APR as much as those of us who earned it? Will they be champions and promote Accreditation to their peers? Is there even any research that shows there’s a demand by senior-level professionals to become Accredited?

Fortunately, the PRSA National Board of Directors drafted and approved these realistic, attainable measures to bolster the APR. The “20-year” proposal is just one of many suggested directives. I trust the debate will continue well into 2015, as it should.

Finally, a shout out (note the modern language) to my agency friend: I trust you’re billing clients for all of those after hours and weekend client tasks.

More Madness in the World Today Than the Paris Massacre

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

Eight days into the new year, and I was struggling with a topic for the first post of 2015.  Then I woke up to read the report in the Chicago Tribune about the terrorist attack at a Paris magazine office that left 12 people dead — magazine staff and two police officers.

The current web site masthead of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The current web site masthead of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

The front-page report described a “military-style, methodical killing” at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a periodical that satirized politics, culture and religion.  It was the latter — commentary and cartoons on the Muslim faith — that apparently drove three men to madness.

The Tribune featured two photos that summed up the “before” and “after” of this tragedy: A gathering of Parisians mourning the brutal attack, and a still photo of footage of the alleged murderers, brandishing rifles as they fled in a black sedan.

As I leafed through the Tribune Section 1, the main news content, I found another story — a report of an even more gruesome and deadly act. On page 11, I read a report of how a vehicle loaded with bombs was detonated near a police academy in the city of Sanaa, Yemen.

The story said the bomb killed “at least 35 people, injuring dozens of

Sanaa, Yemen.

Sanaa, Yemen.

others and leaving a trial of mangled bodies and twisted wreckage.” The accompanying image shows an obviously distraught man near the scene, his hand to his head, flanked by two nearby authorities.

The similarities:

  • Both mass murders reportedly were the result of Muslim extremists.
  • Both were planned executions.
  • Both took place in capital cities.

The differences:

  • One took place in one of the great capitals of the Western world.
  • One took place in an ancient city on the Arabian peninsula.

The question I have is why does the murder of a dozen people in Paris “rank,” at least in terms of news coverage, above the murder and maiming of 35 people in Sanaa?