Hey CTU Members: Why The Planned April Fools Day Stunt?

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

For the record, I am a strong proponent of learning. And, that’s not just because I work at a university and have committed to lifelong learning as a way to maintain my Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential.

Learning defines a person, shapes an identity, provides purpose to life.

This silly logo for the CTU's "Contract Action Team" is more akin to a comic book super hero.

This silly logo for the CTU’s “Contract Action Team” was developed by the adults charged with teaching Chicago kids.

That’s why I’m very disturbed by the planned and reportedly illegal strike tomorrow, April 1, by members of the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU).

Yes, the people who are paid through taxpayer funds to educate the children of Chicago are walking off the job on April Fool’s Day. Their goal, I suppose, is to build support for a better contract from a school district that already faces serious financial shortfalls.

But to me and many fellow Chicagoans — including some CTU members — this action is not a joke, practical or otherwise. It’s a travesty.

If you’ve followed Chicago and Illinois news the past few months, frankly the situation here is quite bleak. The state has gone nine months without a budget. The City has been embroiled in cases of alleged police misconduct. Violent crime has spiked to horrific levels. People have lost faith in the leaders elected to lead.

And, around eight hours from now, CTU members will prevent school kids from learning through a day-long protest built around threats to “shut down” the city. The CTU even posted this “schedule of events” page on its website, just in case those of us planning to work tomorrow want to participate.

Hopefully, some learning will take place in Chicago tomorrow.  By that I mean that the CTU will learn that walking off the job will not result in anything positive — for the teachers, for Chicago school children and for the taxpayers who fund public education.


Washington, D.C. Beyond the Monuments: A Travelogue

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

A common phrase often associated with the nation’s capital is “Beyond the Beltway,” a reference to the world outside Interstate 495, the limited access highway surrounding greater Washington, D.C.

And, many know that “Beyond the Beltway” also is the name of a syndicated radio program that originates here in Chicago.

This somewhat subtle reference to the vast part of America outside the seat of power provided inspiration for this post, one of the always popular (at least for me to produce) PRDude travelogue reports.

Last week, Susan and I visited Washington in order to enjoy the District at our own pace as visitors rather than while on business.  From our hotel in the way cool DuPont Circle neighborhood, we visited some of the grand places that make most must-visit lists. But we also were intrigued by places not cited frequently by those who contribute to Trip Advisor.

From the images to follow, here’s my perspective on places we found fascinating in some less-known corners of Washington:

DC one

The National Portrait Gallery has a regular exhibit of official paintings of our Presidents. Here’s me with Theodore Roosevelt, referred to in a documentary as “an American Lion.” I’d love to have shared a beer with TR.


DC eight

At the World War II memorial on the National Mall, I paused for a while by the pillar for Illinois. The small wreath was posted by students from Boone High School.


DC eleven

A figure of a solider at the Korean War Memorial was particularly intriguing to me. This guy was responsible for communications.


DC fifteen

Located outside an embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, I was captivated by this figure. I know what you’re thinking: What’s on his mind?


DC five

In this digital world, you never know when you need an eraser. Susan posed with this over sized version at the Sculpture Garden near the National Archives.


DC fourteen

Looks historic, right? On the plaza at Georgetown University. Founded in 1789, it’s the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. And the adjacent neighborhood of the same name is frozen in time.


DC seven

On the National Mall near the Washington Monument, I spent time listening to these young people performing Christian music in a temporary venue called David’s Tent. For what they lacked in musical skill, they made up with passion and honesty.


DC six

Okay. I had to include a glamour shot of the Washington Monument. Up close, it’s a lot bigger than you’d imagine.


DC ten

One of my favorite images: Catching a real moment between visitors at the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a solemn place, but full of life when I visited.


DC thirteen

A street in DuPont Circle. I could live here. It’s civilized and refined without being ostentatious. Plus there’s great bars, restaurants and a Metro station.

One image not included in this post was of the famous cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin. The peak colors were just starting when we departed late last week.

A reason to return and look beyond the monuments for what makes this city great. Now if only Congress could get on track and start governing.

But that topic is for another time.

One Image, One Question: March 15, 2016

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

Okay, by the date cited in the title of this post, you probably know what’s to follow, especially if you live in Illinois. (Or Florida and Ohio.)

Yes, today we juxtapose an image and question related to today’s Primary Election in the state of Illinois.

Did you, or do you plan, to make your vote count during the primary election in your state?

Did you, or do you plan, to make your vote count during the primary election in your state?

In the days leading up to the election, citizens in and around metropolitan Chicago have been pummeled with campaign messages via broadcast media, fliers and signage, and of course, those always annoying robocalls, which usually arrive when I’m preparing or worse, eating dinner.

Yes, I cast my vote this morning. And, no, I won’t share any information on my choices for the national, statewide or local candidacies.

However, as in previous elections, the process to vote in my Chicago ward was effortless. There was no line, there was no confusion.  I preformed my civic duty in minutes using a pen and the double-sided ballot.

Which leads to today’s question:

If the process of voting is quick, uncomplicated and painless, why must the primary process be so lengthy, confusing and excruciating?

And, let me add to the debate: That which makes the world go ’round — money.

Call me a simpleton (hey, I’ve been called much worse), but it’s unfathomable that billions of dollars are spent annually on campaigns.  And, like everything in this world, the costs will continue to escalate.

So fellow Americans, please share your thoughts on this quandary, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.  I guarantee I’ll forward on commentary to those we elect to office.

Once they’re done campaigning, of course.





Shout Out to CBS on PR Advice for Small Business

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

You and all my thousands of regular readers (okay, hundreds; well, more like dozens) probably wonder where ideas originate for new PRDude posts.

Lots of places, actually, including from the original non-print mass communications medium — radio.

Inspiration can strike anytime; like while behind the wheel of a still fine automobile.

Inspiration can strike anytime; like while behind the wheel of a still fine two-decade-old automobile. No, it’s not for sale.

For example, while driving Sunday in my now vintage 1996 Camry on errands, I heard a spot for CBS Small Business Pulse, described on its Facebook page as a “go-to, daily resource for the small business owner.” That aptly describes the site, which features content on finance, human resources, legal, marketing, sales and technology for the small businessman or woman.

The radio spot I heard referred to content on — you guessed it — public relations, or more specifically, hiring public relations counsel; Naturally, I was inspired to explore and learn more from the Small Business Pulse site.

Small business

If the team from Small Business Pulse reads this post: Feel free to include my suggestions on how to work effectively with PR counsel.

In the Marketing section, I found the article in question:  “Expert Knowledge To Best Prepare Your Small Business When Hiring A Public Relations Firm.”

The article, credited to the owner of a Dallas PR firm, offers some very good first steps: Learn about the different kinds of public relations agencies and consultants in the marketplace; set realistic expectations for results; and, plan to work in partnership with the counsel you hire.

But I felt the post could have offered small business owners more advice. So as a service to small business owners everywhere, here are three other critical factors to consider before engaging in PR counsel:

  1. Transcend Publicity. Effective modern public relations equals more than attention and coverage by the media and bloggers. Small business owners should demand their agency do much more, such as identify potential threats to the company or provide crisis communications counsel.
  2. Center on Strategy. Effective modern public relation programs are based on strategy. Small business owners should demand that the scope of work presented by the agency is built around sound strategies cultivated from primary research, market analysis and an understanding of client’s products or services.
  3. Measurable Results. Effective modern public relations success is realized by more than media placements. Small business owners should demand results that illustrate how the communications services provided led to more sales, increased attendance, better awareness or greater market share.

There’s more I could share, but I’ve hit the proverbial wall. Perhaps another ride in the Camry is needed.