A Decade of The PRDude. Really

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

The question many — including myself — may ponder is this: Why continue to publish the PRDude blog, now in its tenth year?

After 10 years and 432 posts, I sometimes ask that question of myself.

A simple answer includes these components:

  • Because I can.
  • Because I enjoy it.
  • Because I still have something to say.

Want more? Here are some general thoughts.

If my day gets off to a rocky start, sometimes I revisit one of the more than 400 posts offered by the PRDude over the past 10 years.

What I’ve Learned: The public relations profession has evolved dramatically from a media relations-focused practice to one that incorporates integrated communications. The change was mostly driven by technology. That’s not a revolutionary observation, but one that should continue to remain at the forefront. That means there’s lots to comment on.

A Personal Perspective: I have remained steadfast and passionate about the value and practice of sound, ethical public practice.  That will never waiver. Publishing this blog provides a medium to defend instances where the profession is misrepresented, often equated with propaganda.

Favorite Posts: Don’t have kids, but we have cats. I love them both the same; and, I have the same perspective about the posts published here over the past decade. But this post from 2010 about my “alter ego” still resonates just a little more. More recently, I’ve enjoyed sharing thoughts on my pursuit of my Master’s degree in English.

What’s Needed:  I plan to (someday) finish adding categories to past posts.  And, I might consider changing the theme, or finding a way to monetize The PRDude blog. Hey, back in 2013 I made an offer to sell out! (I would still entertain reasonable offers.)

To conclude, I thank all who have read, commented and shared my thoughts these past 10 years. Stick around for the next 10.

A final thought: I had planned to publish this post yesterday, September 11, 2019.  We all know the significance of that date and what took place. Out of respect I held off.  But my thoughts on 9/11 can be found in this post from September 11, 2011 — 10 years after the terrorist attacks. I hope and pray I don’t have to write about those memories again.

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Finding Solace on This Day in America

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

The music from this trio helped me cope with the tragedies that took place in two American cities.

Grappling with the horrific news from El Paso, then Dayton, I sought some way to find consolation on this glorious, sunny summer day in early August.

My decision was simple: Walk and think.  And, seek out something here in our Chicago neighborhood that would provide some kind of comfort, some kind of remedy for the anguish I felt at yet another unconscionable action in America.

My stroll took me along Milwaukee Avenue, a thoroughfare reflecting the changes in Logan Square, now home to modern apartment towers and upscale restaurants.

Observing the new business and edifices along this once utilitarian street helped take my mind off the carnage I saw on television reports.

I made my way to the popular Logan Square Farmer’s Market, one of the largest and most vibrant in the city. Enjoying a coffee and the always-packed New Wave Coffee adjacent to the Farmer’s Market, here’s what I witnessed: Patrons purchasing vegetables and artisan wares, couples holding hands, couples walking dogs, people lining up to purchase tacos.

In essence, life continuing.

Making my way toward the main row of vendors on the Logan Boulevard parkway, I enjoyed a few songs from a trio performing Americana roots music. Their sound was inviting, genuine and uncluttered.

For a while, I forgot about what I learned from television news reports Saturday and this morning.

I walked home feeling relieved and in a better state of mind.

Back in 2012, I commented on the mass shooting of teachers and kids in Connecticut. At that time, I predicted this gun-driven madness would probably happen again.

Oh, how I wish I was wrong.

 

But What About Bikes? Three Cycling Actions That Need to Be Deflated

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

Driven in part (every pun intended) by the readership of the June 27 PRDude post offering strategies for the new Chicago electric scooter pilot program, I was prompted to address a similar topic: Thoughts on that other two-wheeled/non-motorized personal mobility mode — the bicycle.

Here, I put the focus on what I believe are three improper and downright dangerous cycling practices that need to be eliminated.

But first, a little history.

From the images that accompany this post, you can deduct that I am a cyclist. Not a daily bike commuter, just a weekend and sometimes-after-work cyclist. The road bike pictured here is a Raleigh Grad Prix I purchased with the money earned working at the Bravco health and beauty aids store in the early 1970s.

I obtained this 23.5 inch cycle from Turin Bicycles, which then was located on Clark Street in Lincoln Park.  I recall the price was $115. It’s still a sweet machine and all original except for the seat, fork, gears, tires and rims.  Okay, so the frame, brakes and handle bars are still original. But I have very fond memories of the miles logged on this bike, even the falls that resulted in a broken nose, a broken wrist and large gash on my right shin.

Now to my suggestions.

Here, I’ve identified three cycle actions that need to be discontinued for the betterment of cyclists, as well as pedestrians, motorists and society in general.

  1. The Overly-Connected Rider.  There’s a time and place to check that email, Instagram or Pintrest account. Riding a bicycle is not one of them.  What would compel a cyclist — or a motorist for that matter — to divert attention to a hand-held device while riding around town is beyond puzzling. It’s downright dangerous. Furthermore, the practice is stupid. If you need an incentive to put that handheld away while cycling, consider this: It’s illegal to talk on the phone or text while bicycling and the penalty is $20-$500.
  2. “Look Ma, No Hands!” Yes, it may appear really cool to ride with no hands, but only until you need to brake or swerve to avoid a pothole or another road impediment or getting “doored.”  I’ve witnessed “no hands” cyclists peddling along quiet side streets and busy arterial thoroughfares like Western Avenue. And, I’ve observed a “hybrid” of sorts: The no-handed rider engaged with a handheld.  Why is this practice considered acceptable?
  3. Put the Brakes on Fixies. As I understand it, a fixed-gear or “fixie” bicycle has no freewheel component — meaning one can’t coast on a fixie. And, some lack brakes.  Let me repeat: Some fixed gear bikes don’t have hand brakes, requiring the rider to skid to come to a stop. Please explain how this type of cycle, which is designed for a velodrome, should be allowed on a public right-of-way.

If fellow cyclists need to refresh safe cycling practices, the Illinois Secretary of State produced this excellent “Bicycle Rules of the Road” document.

On this spectacular Sunday in Chicago, we’re planning to hitch our bikes to the car rack and bike one of the North Shore trails. Will be alert for a no-handed cyclist on a fixie checking his or her handheld.

 

 

 

 

One Image, One Question: July 19, 2019

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

Oh, what a difference five-plus months and 120 degrees can make.

At the beginning of this year, I published this post on January 30 as a way to chronicle the outbreak of dangerous cold that settled in Chicago and much of the central part of the nation.

The view from our back porch looks somewhat inviting, despite the sweltering weather.

Today, we’re at the other end of the weather spectrum: An excessive heat warning that started today and lasts until Saturday night, when storms will smash the oppressive temperatures and humidity.

As I write this, it’s 94 degrees outside and heat index is in the low triple digits. I went for a short walk and, rest assured, man, it’s hot out there.

Government officials and the media repeatedly issued warnings about the dangers of the sweltering weather. There are still memories of the three-day heat wave of July 1995, when some 700 — mostly elderly in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods — perished; they died because there was no one there to help, to look in on fellow human beings in need.

Lacking central air conditioning, we get by with window units, ceiling fans and lots of cold liquids.

Now to the question: What does “heat” sound like?

Puttering in our yard, shown in the image above, I heard birds, a few footsteps, loud autos at times, the wind rustling in the trees and not much else.  I think most of our neighbors are wisely limiting outdoor activity this afternoon. To me, heat “sounds” like tranquility, as long as you can find shade and perhaps a little breeze.

Like my January post during the polar vortex, weather — certainly extreme weather — does have a profound impact on people. I’m encouraged to learn that cooling centers — county and public buildings — will remain open through Saturday night.

Of course, we may not move as fast or exert ourselves on hot days, but we continue on with life, knowing relief will come soon.

 

Where in the World Do These Phrases Originate?

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

Logo courtesy of phrases.com.

Here’s a quick quiz.  Provide a definition for these two phrases:

1. Intentional parenting

2. Listening sessions

Are you done? Can you provide answers? Are you able to effectively, at least to yourself, determine just what the heck these two phrases mean?

Before planning and researching this post, I never heard of either. But, they are now part of our lexicon, I suppose.

The first phrase above was included in a business article that focused on career-building skills that can be absorbed from the practices of one’s parents — working hard, being responsible, demonstrating discipline, being trustworthy. This makes total sense to me. But what’s an “intentional” parent?

I didn’t know, so I googled the phrase and found this site that offered some direction. All I had to do to learn more was purchase some books, an intentional act of commerce. This also raised the question, can someone be an “unintentional parent?” I’m of the mindset that if you have children, you’re a parent.

And, on to the second phrase, presented to me by a friend who found it within an email seeking participants for a future “listening session.”  My first thought: Listen to whom regarding what?

Yes, reliable Google gave me a 173,000 potential answers from many, many sources, including prestigious universities and leading professional associations. In fact, I found an online article that shared multiple ways to host a listening session. The other question that surfaced to me: Isn’t a “listening session” similar to a “meeting” or a “discussion?”

Need more?

This website was built to amass and chronicle phrases in order to help writers. But neither provided what I believe to be an accurate description of intentional parenting or a listening session.

Had enough of my attempt at sarcasm?

Here’s my point.  Why can’t the phrases, words and ideas that have been used for decades or even centuries continue to work today? Why do we need new phrases or interpretations of the language? Besides, who’s in charge of “curating” this stuff, to coin a now-commonly-cited word?

As a public relations professional, I try to communicate effectively using language the reader can comprehend. To succeed, I steadfastly avoid jargon and refuse to employ flavor-of-the-month phrases.

If you concur, listen intentionally, then share your thoughts.

 

 

A Perspective on Public Relations and Leadership During a Tech Conference

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

Photo credit: Edward M. Bury, APR.

The opportunity to keep learning is one of the benefits of working for a major university. That’s why I was excited to participate in an IT-centered conference yesterday at the great institution of higher learning where I am employed: The day-long event provided breakout sessions that focused on available tech tools and project management resources, along with presentations on shall we say “softer” subjects.

One session that stood out for me was titled: “Leadership Through Collaboration, Communication and Cooperation.”

I and those in the room gained insight into the nature of what makes a good leader today and learned there are four genres:

  • Transformative
  • Democratic
  • Laissez Faire
  • Autocratic

(For the record, my perceptions on leadership were more on the cut and dry side: Those who were effective and forthright, and those who were worthless and duplicitous.)

The session leader, a former Navy officer who earned a doctorate after leaving the service, was engaging and shared other perceptions on leadership, including this one: Good leaders know how to balance hard and soft skills.

I wholeheartedly agree.

But what captured my attention came during an analysis of the “communications” segment of the talk.  Our leader said, and I paraphrase somewhat: “Clear communication is the key to establishing and maintaining relationships.”

Sound familiar?

Perhaps some echoes from this definition of public relations presented in 2012 by the Public Relations Society of America?

I think so.  What I take away from this portion of the 45-minute presentation is that the very essence of modern public relations — effective communications — also should be among the foundation of good leadership characteristics.

Hopefully, leaders across all spectrums of society today will agree with me and adhere.

 

What the LinkedIn Workforce Report for May 2019 Reveals to Me

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

According to my profile, I have 1,085 connections on LinkedIn, which I believe is pretty good. In the interests of full disclosure, I really haven’t met, collaborated on a project. or communicated in person with a sizeable number of these connections.

Image courtesy of LinkedIn.

Regardless, LinkedIn is a platform I visit daily to monitor visits to my profile, participate in groups and to learn.

One more factor behind why I appreciate LinkedIn: It’s generally void (at least during my visits) of troll-centered, profanity-laced, celebrity-driven, mean-spirited and outright idiotic posts and messages often found on Facebook and Twitter.

Last week, I learned the folks at LinkedIn produce a monthly Workforce Report, covering the U.S., the U.K. and India.

After scanning the May 2019 U.S. report, which I found to be an excellent compendium of analysis and insight and today’s workforce, I focused on Table 1. Here, the data presented was on hiring shifts — or from another perspective, job growth by industry.

These three industries recorded the “most notable hiring shifts” in April when analyzing non-seasonably adjusted year-over-year statistics:  Hardware & Networking (15.3% higher); Corporate Services (14.9% higher); and Public Administration (14% higher).

But in “fifth place” and among the five categories — and with a double-digit increase — was Media & Communications, which saw an increase of 10.1%. (For the record, Wellness & Fitness nudged out the aforementioned with an 11% increase.)

So, what’s my interpretation of this impressive showing by Media & Communications — which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes jobs in public relations?

1. Businesses, governmental bodies and non-profit organizations continue to recognize the value skilled (and I hope ethical) communicators bring to modern society.

2. Job growth in this sector should remain robust and competition will be strong to recruit and retain solid performers.

3. Ongoing education will be needed to keep new communicators (and more “seasoned” ones like me) up to date on new developments in the years ahead.

At this time of year, those who have earned degrees in public relations, advertising, marketing, journalism or some integrated communications discipline should be positive about job prospects. My advice:

  • Follow your passions and your interests if possible when seeking a place to work.
  • Pursue jobs with agencies and in the corporate sector, but also consider non-profit and associations.

Finally, a note to the folks in the Wellness & Fitness industry: Watch out because we communicators ain’t far behind.