Wrapping Up 2016: Words and Predictions from Edward M. Bury, APR

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

One of my favorite type of post for the PRDude blog is a Q&A with industry leaders and up-and-coming public relations professionals. Expect more in 2017, as it’s always pleasurable and insightful to tap in to the minds of PR practitioners.

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I call this image my “academic profile.” Note the serious eye ware.

As we approach the final hours of 2016, it dawned on me: I’ve not offered the Q&A opportunity to the one professional I know best: Myself, Edward M. Bury, APR.  Featuring my thoughts in this format is somewhat self-serving, I suppose. But, hey, it’s my blog and frankly I wanted to file one more post before midnight.

So, with as much fanfare as I can muster before starting our decidedly quiet New Year’s Eve celebration, here are words and predictions.

1. Let’s start by keeping the focus on public relations. Where is the profession heading and what key developments will surface in 2017?

Without question, public relations counsel will remain very much needed and in demand by businesses, organizations and governments. The seemingly unending expansion of the digital arena and 24-hour news cycle requires constant monitoring of what’s being said, and having the resources in place to take advantage of opportunities or mitigate threats. Efforts need to be accentuated to promote the value of strategic communications practices and point out the difference between public relations, pure publicity and propaganda.

This PESO graphic is courtesy of Arment Dietrich.

This PESO graphic is courtesy of Arment Dietrich.

Regarding the second part of this question, I predict there will be continued integration between public relations, marketing and advertising. The PESO model of communications will only get more widely accepted and practiced. Given this, expect the public relations industry to push harder for measurement standards, and for clients to demand results.

2. That is a good transition into thoughts on the PRDude blog. What can fans, followers and fanatics expect next year?

More of the same: An “eclectic” (in light of a better word) blend of commentary on public relations practices and developments, balanced by observations and remarks on some topics close to home, including Chicago, the media, culture and politics.

I hope to offer more posts that address the value behind effective, strategic public relations and its vital role in modern society. And, I will continue to “defend” public relations as a strategic management communications practice and call out instances where instances of “public relations” or “PR” are mislabeled and misinterpreted.

3. The year 2016 was quite a memorable one in a lot of ways — the national elections perhaps being the most monumental and unexpected. What were memorable moments for you?

This is relatively easy to determine. In fact, I’ll share links for those who want to get more insight.

  • The four days spent in Washington, D.C. this March, my only visit to the nation’s capital for pure pleasure.
  • Our July visit to Green Lake, Wisconsin, where we relaxed, got away from the city and learned firsthand about the value of small town life and the people who live outside a place as big as Chicago.
  • My thoughts on the passing in September of our mother, Sophie V. Bury, a truly remarkable woman and friend to many.
  • The dream that came true for me and millions and millions of Chicago Cubs fans. The Cubs won the World Series in November.
  • And, this just in: I completed my first required course for earning a graduate degree in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Proud to say I earned an A!  Get educated yourself and read my final paper on affect criticism.

4. When you look out your window, what do you see? Metaphorically, of course.

This retail store on Milwaukee Avenue is becoming an increasingly rare breed in 2016.

This retail store on Milwaukee Avenue is becoming an increasingly rare breed in 2016.

Here in Chicago, I see continued heartbreak driven by the unceasing and uncontrolled violence plaguing many neighborhoods. I wonder why greater awareness of this violence and the general acceptance among many that it’s wrong and crippling to society has not led to more decisive action to stop the shootings.

From another perspective, here in our rapidly gentrifying Avondale/Logan Square neighborhood, I see dramatic changes to the community fabric driven by new (and increasingly expensive) housing, restaurants/bars and retail replacing long-standing businesses. I know this is “progress” and the result of market demands and economic and social developments, but I wonder if the community has lost its true character.

And, looking at the bigger picture, I see the potential for grave circumstances ahead unless we can effectively address the growth of “fake news” designed to disguise the truth.

5. So, some last words on 2016.

Besides, “Happy New Year 2017,” I hope there’s a renewed effort to return to civility in today’s society. Despite our advancements in science and technology, we are stepping backwards if we can’t treat each other with courtesy and respect.

The Love House Christmas Extravaganza: A Musical Holiday Tradition

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

Holiday traditions, are as old as, well the holidays themselves. And, you guessed it: There’s even a website — World Holiday Traditions — that provides insight into how cultures celebrate at Christmastime.

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Which one is me? The good-looking one. A tradition is to enlist an audience member to add the sleight bells to Christmas songs.

Like many around the world, I have fond memories of our family gathered together in our home on Walton Street in Chicago for the Polish Christmas Eve traditional dinner, called wigilia. It’s a meatless meal of Old World foods, all served family style, and includes passing a wafer called oplatek while offering everyone good wishes for the year.

(Full disclosure: My brothers and I complained about the somewhat bland dishes, and I believe we got pizza added to the menu, bringing an Italian-inspired tradition to our wigilia meal.)

For the past 20-plus years or so, I’ve partaken in another holiday tradition of sorts with my other “family” — namely (in alphabetical order) Bill, Doug, Phil and Roy.  Yes, they have last names, but I’ll keep them confidential for now.  These guys are my musical compatriots in a rock and roll cover band called Love House.

What a way to usher in the Christmas holiday! Rocking out with Love House.

What a way to usher in the Christmas holiday! Rocking out with Love House.

Our tradition: Securing a gig at whatever bar will have us, inviting family and friends, and spreading the spirit of the season with Christmas songs new and old, along with other selections you’ve probably heard before. View a video to get an idea of what it was like during the 2016 show December 10 at Chalk in Forest Park, IL.

This tradition — and much of the set list — hasn’t changed much over the years, but we really enjoy making music and people still make the trek out during a cold month and help us spread holiday cheer. And, to make the event more communal, we invite a member of the audience to ring sleigh bells during “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Run, Run Rudolph” and other holiday musical chestnuts, although we have none roasting on an open fire.

Yes, we make a small amount of money; I spent mine buying guests a beer. A small token of thanks for letting Love House play a small role in shaping memories of this time of year for those close to us — and anyone who wandered in.

How long will the Love House Christmas Extravaganza (I made up the name, by the way, to improve SEO; we just call it “the Christmas gig”) last?

Ho, ho, ho, I don’t know. Just keep a date open next December, and plan on taking in the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes You Just Need to Take on a (Communications) Challenge

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

So, now in the fleeting days of 2016, a time of year perhaps overwhelmed by holiday merriment and mayhem, one can take a deep breath, look back and reflect. Reflect on the good and the bad, of course, but also delve into what summoned something extra or engaging from within.

Actually, I have no plans to repel down mountains in 2017, just learn -- in the classroom.

Actually, I have no plans to repel down mountains in 2017, just learn — in the classroom.

More plainly spoken, the year-end provides the opportunity to remember and hopefully savor challenges taken on, met and overcome.

For me, there’s no question on the topic of the biggest challenge of 2016: Enrolling in graduate school and completing my first formal college course in (gulp!) 40 years.

In this July post, I sort of gave notice that I was beginning what will surely be four years of study to earn a Master’s of Arts degree in English. And, in a future post, I’ll share what some thoughts on the class I took this semester — but after I learn my grades.

(Professor: If you read this I’m yearning to know.)

I am enrolled in another English class, which will start in early January. But I need another challenge now, so I decided to take on the 2017 Spin Sucks 30-Day Communications Challenge.  This program provides “everything you need to document and implement an integrated PESO-communications plan to drive business results.”

To get the disclosure stuff out of the way, this initiative is hosted by Arment Dietrich, the Chicago-based public relations firm founded by my friend Gini Dietrich, who was profiled in this space with a rousing Q&A post in early 2015.

And, just to prove I’m in step with integrated digital communications today, I know that

This PESO graphic is courtesy of Arment Dietrich.

This PESO graphic is courtesy of Arment Dietrich.

PESO is the acronym for the “paid-earned-shared-owned” concept of building awareness, acceptance and action on behalf of your client. In fact, this Mashable post from late 2014 even heralds Ms. Dietrich as a champion of the PESO model.

But back to this challenge: What I hope to gain is a better understanding of the PESO concept as well as what technologies, practices and strategies are driving modern communications.  Perhaps I’ll be able to incorporate newfound knowledge into my work for the university; without question I’ll learn and be challenged.

Just in case Gini reads this post, I did do my “homework” for today. In fact, the PRDude blog has a domain authority ranking of 97/100.

Is that good?

 

What to Get for the Public Relations Professional This Holiday Season

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

These days, there’s many options to find that perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

No doubt that some PR professionals have mustaches and imbibe in spirits. But the Whisker Dam may not be the right gift this holiday season.

No doubt that some PR professionals have mustaches and imbibe in spirits. But the Whisker Dam may not be the right gift this holiday season.

For example, the Redeye tabloid published here in Chicago recently featured a Holiday Gift Guide that included:

  • Handmade copper mustache guard: As described, this so-called Whisker Dam “fits over a pint glass, highball or mug to keep facial hair dry.” Since I no longer have a mustache, it’s not an item I expect to find under the Christmas tree this year.
  • LuMee case: A lighting device for your cell phone to “help your selfie-loving friend make like a Kardashian.” Well, my utilitarian Samsung Avant works just fine as is and I don’t know what it means to “make like a Kardashian,” nor do I care to learn.
  • Mobil Foodie Survival Kit: What gourmand wouldn’t love “this stack of 13 portable spices including sea salt, cayenne, curry and dill.” Personally, I prefer to have the chef season my meal when dining out.

But this blog is about public relations (well, most of the time) and I maintain that public relations professionals are perhaps better suited to more practical stuff, especially in these times of “false news” reports that lead to bad stuff happening to innocent people.

So in the spirit of giving, the PRDude offers these directives to fellow communicators. Think of the following as “holiday gifts” of sort.

Commitment. Stay committed to the public relations profession and make that known to the world. Proactively share accomplishments to demonstrate the value public relations has in today’s increasingly complex world.

Inspire. Help nurture the next generation of communicators by adhering to the highest standards of professionalism and conduct, like those noted in the PRSA Code of Ethics. Volunteer to serve on a PRSA or other industry organization.

Contest. Challenge and call out instances where the profession is bashed, demeaned unnecessarily or misinterpreted. Need an example? Here’s one: Make it clear that terrorist organizations practice propaganda, not public relations, in their communications.

Believe. Well, in Santa Claus, of course. But believe in the power of public relations to help contribute to the national dialogue, build relationships and improve society through honest, effective communications.

Hope these prove valuable “holiday gifts.”

If not, perhaps that Whisker Dam ain’t such a bad gift after all.