Seeking Inspiration For The Future of The PRDude

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

Okay, for clarification regarding the title of this post: I’m not referring to myself, but this blog — thoughts, observations and commentary I’ve published for more than a decade.

Over the years, I’ve addressed a lot of topics, public relations being the focus, of course. But this space also has tackled politics, Chicago, sports, the media, travel, holidays, the employment market, and what’s happening in the media.

Ideas for posts come from what I read or learn about in the world around me, from adventures in and around Chicago and abroad, from experiences and observations.

Looking north from a bridge in the Harms Woods Forest Preserve, I sought inspiration.

But lately, I’ve struggled. The passion and desire to dash out a provocative and compelling post remains, however, I’ve not been inspired as much as in the past.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve written mostly about public relations (misinterpretations of the profession and misrepresentation by the media), Chicago (the politics and the people), development in the media (the decline of print media) and the other categories noted above.

I need some new inspiration.

So, that’s why I pose this question to you, kind reader:

What subjects should the PRDude address in the months to come?

Yesterday, on a spectacularly sunny and mild mid-winter day, I sought inspiration through a morning hike in a local forest preserve. The image posted here, with the snow covered banks of the North Branch of the Chicago River, reminded me of a blues song I penned many years ago. So I felt it was fitting to share the lyrics below.

Back to my question: All suggestions are welcomed. Please reply to this post or send me an email:

Sun Shines on the River

Sun shines on the river
On a cold, cold winter morn
Sun shines on the river
On a cold, cold winter morn
I’ve been on this road for 13 miles
And I must keep travellin’ on

Me and my ole hound dog
We’re hungry and we’re tired
Me and my old hound dor
We’re hungry and we’re tired
I could use me a shot of whiskey
And, a warm, warm raging fire

Got thrown out by a woman
She really done me wrong
Got thrown out by a woman
She really done me wrong
So I guess I’ll just keep on keepin’
Keep on, keepin’ on.

Copyright Edward M. Bury, 2020

What Samuel Gompers Said and the State of the America Today

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

The bronze Samuel Gompers Memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The litter in the foreground is not an official part of the memorial.

For the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, always held in Washington, DC, and always in early January.

My key tasks there are to participate in the meeting of the Technology Transfer Committee (where I proudly serve as Communications Task Group chair) and manage a reception hosted by the transportation research unit that’s part of the university where I’m employed.

During my brief — three days, two nights — sojourn to the capital, I try to come away with some new perspective on the nation: Where we’re headed, what remains good in America, where are roadblocks to overcome.

I’ve shared my thoughts in past PRDude posts. For example, in this January 17 post from last year, I offered insight on the impact the government shutdown that lasted into early 2019 had on mobility in the District.

The impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump has been at the forefront of things taking place in Washington over the past few weeks. So, I looked for a something else to capture my attention, to provide inspiration.

I found it in the image above, the memorial to organized labor giant Samuel Gompers, while walking along Massachusetts Avenue.

Yes, the District is home to many compelling memorials to men and women, military heroes and leaders from other parts of the world. What struck me about the Gompers Memorial– aside from the striking representation of the seated Gompers flanked by figures of the labor movement — was this statement on the southwest side of the pedestal. It reads in part;

No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force,
we but tear apart that which united is invincible.

These words by Gompers (who I learned was English by birth and a cigar maker by trade) encapsulated the labor movement he helped forge.

But I wish the members of Congress, those in the Executive Office and members of he Supreme Court would take these words to heart in regards to what’s taking place in Washington today.

We as a nation would be on firmer ground if we heeded the wisdom of an English cigar maker.

Questions! I Have Questions to Ponder in the Year Ahead

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

“As we pull back the curtain on 2019 …” No, that’s contrived, outright hokey.

“With another decade on the horizon …” Been done, a cliche.

“The countdown to a new year begins!  So let’s reflect …” Perhaps appropriate for a television program.

Okay, enough.  I’ll dispense with trying to deliver a clever, inspiring and provocative lead to this post.  What follows are three questions I hope to have answers for in 2020.

Will Public Relations Continue to Remain Vital in Society?

To offer an answer based on my personal perspective, a resounding “Yes!” However, there are, of course, caveats to posting such a declarative response. The public relations profession, in my opinion, needs to continue to define itself as the source of ethical, strategic communications counsel to help build brands and minimize threats in the increasingly digitally-driven landscape. And, as I’ve tried to champion over the last few years, it’s the responsibility of those of us in  public relations to challenge misrepresentations of the profession.

This 2018 LinkedIn article presents my perspectives. Just google “2020 PR trends,” and the results will reveal lots of articles and prognostications.  But take note: My search included this 2015 Inc. magazine article on 10 “bold” projections on public and advertising for the year 2020. The author swung and missed on a few selections, especially the first prediction.

This parcel on Diversey at Francisco avenue once housed a row of modest storefronts. Now, it’s slated for what assuredly will be branded as “luxury” condos.

Will Upscale Real Estate Development Continue Unchecked?

Real estate development is a sign that a market is vital and ready to accommodate growth. But will the preponderance of new apartment, office and mixed-use projects now under development, planned or under consideration in metropolitan Chicago meet market needs or result in over-building?

According to this cool interactive report from Curbed Chicago, there are 33 high-rise projects being built in the city.  Think about that: 33 new “luxury” projects in a city that’s struggling to maintain population, in a city that’s becoming increasingly expensive. The site doesn’t include the more modest projects out in the neighborhoods. Let me conclude this segment by noting, that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, my state of Illinois has lost people for the sixth consecutive year.

Will The Actions of Some People Continue to Leave Me Baffled?

Why, why, why do some people ignore collecting U.S. mail?

Now, something on the less serious side. For a perspective on this question, please note the image showing mailboxes — the old-fashioned kind, the kind that holds the original means of mass communication.  This trio of mailboxes is located at a home just north of where we live. It’s been this way for days, possibly weeks. Who knows: Maybe months. Why don’t the occupants retrieve their mail!

Yes, this is anecdotal, but I’ve observed receptacles full with U.S. mail in other buildings around the neighborhood. I also wonder why so many people these days don’t wear gloves in the winter time, or why some fellow passengers on my morning Blue Line commute think it’s acceptable to stand in the entrance to the el car (on their handhelds, naturally) rather than move into the car.

Perhaps in 2020, which arrives here in a few hours beyond a full day, I’ll learn the answers to these three questions; and hopefully, many, many more.


So What Constitutes a “Christmas” Song?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDudeP

This time of year — well, actually starting sometime around Thanksgiving — much of the world begins the ritual of enjoying, presenting, performing, producing, distributing and airing musical compositions that honor, celebrate or promote the day we celebrate today.

Google “Christmas Songs,” and the algorithms that drive the search engine reveal 1,520,000,000 options. That’s a lot or results, for any search.

Of course, you’ll find “best” and “greatest” lists, which I’ll let you scan for commentary. But I would gather that a sizeable majority of those included have “Christmas,” “Santa,” “snow” or another word characteristic of the holiday in the title or within the lyrics.

Which brings me to this multiple-part question: What is a “Christmas song?” How is it defined? What characteristics are required for the song to be added to the Christmas song canon?

I’ll let you provide answers or commentary. But I want to share a song written by one of my musical heroes (and I don’t have too many) that is all about the essence of what the Christmas holiday should represent — but doesn’t reference the Christ child by name, much less that jolly fellow, reindeer, presents, trees, tinsel, Black Friday or even snow.

The song is “Nothing But a Child,” and the author is Steve Earle.

This almost lullaby, which appeared on the Copperhead Road album of 1989, is ethereal, melodic and passionate; its blend of timeless, hopeful lyrics, straightforward vocal delivery and soothing pedal steel guitar interludes results in a compelling musical accomplishment.

There is a “Christmas” aspect to the song, yet, I’ve never heard it performed during the holiday. Hopefully, Earle’s peaceful song will someday be better recognized and interpreted by those of us who appreciate the power of music.

Here’s a Merry Christmas to all who read this entry into The PRDude and the 440 others I’ve posted over the past decade.  As I prepare to file this post, there’s six hours of Christmas Day left in 2019 to appreciate “Nothing But a Child.”



Thankful This Thanksgiving Towards These

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

With the big family celebration out of town, Susan and I “improvised” yesterday for our official Thanksgiving meal.

Served hot with hot red peppers and a spicy dipping sauce, Japanese Style Fried Turkey was a standout during our meal. The New Zealand sauvignon blanc made it all the better.

We enjoyed a three-course “Thanksgiving Tasting Menu” offered by Roka Akor, a Japanese-themed restaurant with stores around the country. Our meal took place at the store in the Westfield Old Orchard shopping mall in Skokie.

And, along with the Hamachi Serrano Chili Maki, Salmon Teriyaki with House-Pickled Cucumbers and other delicious offerings, we had turkey two ways: Japanese Style Fried Turkey and Braised Turkey Rice Hot Pot with Mountain Greens.

Of course, we missed the traditional holiday fare and gathering with family; but we were thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal with others who did not or could not participate in the Thanksgiving feast depicted in the famous Norman Rockwell painting.

And, while I’m on the subject, here are few other things I’m thankful for:

  • Living in a nation that — despite the challenges faced on a national scale with the impeachment proceedings and unbridled partisanship — is still a pretty good place to reside.
  • Completing another course in my journey toward earning my Master’s degree in English. This semester’s subject matter — seventeenth century British literature — was new to me, but I gained a better understanding of the Reformation and the process of researching and drafting scholarly papers.
  • Modern public relations practices and the positive impact those of us in the profession can and will have in making society a better place.

Oh, and one more thing: I’m thankful for this platform and the ability to share my thoughts, opinions and images in this space. And, of course, I’m thankful to everyone who reads what I have to say.



What Will Follow This Week’s Outlandish, Bizarre, Disturbing, Incomprehensible Tweet

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

It’s still early in the third week of October in the year 2019, and already a significant amount of news coverage and analysis is focused on the person who posted a tweet that compares a truly ghastly aspect of American history with a current Congressional investigation.

Read about it here, if you want to know what I’m referring to.  But, I think you do. And, I think you know the author of the tweet in question.

Please push out a tweet that offers a glimmer of hope for the future of the United States of America.

Speaking of questions:

What was the focus of last week’s outlandish, bizarre, disturbing and incomprehensible tweet from this person? I don’t recall. There probably were several similarly malicious tweets that sparked dialogue across all communication channels.

What will be the subject of tomorrow’s outlandish, bizarre, disturbing and incomprehensible tweet from this person?  Who knows. But assuredly, the media and so-called Twittersphere will chronicle the fallout.

Since the first tweet was sent in 2006, a seemingly modest way to send out seemingly innocuous, personal messages — first within a 180-character limit, then doubled to 360 characters — has evolved into a communications medium with the power to command the national and even global spotlight — often with messages of despair, deceit and destruction of the American way of life.

Think about it: What amounts to a couple of sentences can drive what’s deemed important and newsworthy.

That’s why I implore all who read this post to ignore the kind of calculated, often despicable tweets like the one reference here. Go to your laptop or handheld device and tweet out a positive message about our nation, its people and its stature on the world stage.

Perhaps more messages of positivism will overshadow those of unfounded negativity.




Career Advice for Joe Maddon and a Suggestion for the Chicago Cubs

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

Having been in his position before — actually a few times before — I can relate to what Cubs manager and prototypical anti-establishment but successful leader Joe Maddon is experiencing now that the all-but-inevitable decision regarding his future with the franchise was announced just before yesterday’s final regular season game with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wish it wasn’t so, Joe. But hey, that’s baseball. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

In case you missed it, the Chicago Cubs did not offer Maddon a new contract.

“Okay: What the heck do I do now?” Maddon might be thinking. “What do I do after I get up, brush my teeth and have that first cup of coffee?”

All lightheartedness aside, Maddon assuredly will have some weeks ahead where he can cruise the Florida Gulf Coast in his famous RV and field inquiries on another manager position or something else in baseball — or something else in life.

Regardless of his decision, I offer Joe Maddon — and anyone who reads this post and needs to pursue employment — these two kernels of advice:

1. Always remember that you have value in today’s marketplace. If you don’t believe that, how can you convince someone to hire you?

2. Never compromise your integrity. Your reputation follows you forever, especially in today’s digitally-driven age.

Simplistic, I know. But advice everyone from a World Series winning manager with more of a decade of experience at the Major League level or someone starting out in the real world should consider. And, hopefully benefit from.  Full disclosure: I’ve shared these two thoughts frequently, especially two those pursuing public relations and and communications positions.

Now, as for who should be considered to lead the Chicago Cubs to their next World Series:  My advice to Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is to consider candidates with no previous affiliation with the bricks and ivy of Wrigley Field.  Cast the net broad and wide.

Yes, former Cubs catcher and current media personality David Ross officially is on the short list to replace Maddon, as noted in this report from earlier today.  Tremendous guy, that David Ross, with 14 years in the Majors as a player, but none as a manager. Plus, he’s too close to former teammates and too ingrained with the 2016 champions.

No, Theo, look beyond for another iconoclast. Look what happened when Joe Maddon brought his wacky road trip themes, clever sayings, media savvy, knowledge and love of the game to the North Side.  To paraphrase Maddon: Respect the unconventional.