What Happens When You Google People You Used to Know

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

We’ve all done it.

Surely you have at some time.  Right?

I’m referring to typing your name into that Google (or Yahoo, or Bing) search window and striking — perhaps with some consternation — the Enter key.

Those of us who have a robust digital footprint (or in other words online googlegeeks like me who publish and post stuff regularly) probably aren’t too surprised by the results.  And, for the record, I do check on the number of visits to this blog, reply to comments on my Facebook page, post retweets and monitor replies to LinkedIn posts.

But have you ever googled the name of a person you used to know?  Someone you haven’t had any connection with for years?  For decades?

Call it time wasting, call it curiosity, but I did that the other day.

ISU LogoI googled the names of two people I knew during my undergraduate years at Illinois State University.  I’ll keep their full names confidential, but here’s what I found:

1. Central Illinois Farm Guy: This fellow, who resided on the same dormitory floor as I did my freshman year, hailed from a farming community farther downstate and spent weekends at home.  We might have talked over a beer a few times, but we weren’t all that close.  Something about my hair and Chicago accent that might have rubbed him the wrong way.

The Google findings: He’s still living in the same town and, you guessed it, he’s a farmer — apparently a prosperous and successful one.  An online report noted he “raises corn and soybeans using minimum and no-till practices on his family farm,” and he’s involved with the Illinois Soybean Association Marketing Committee.

2. Girl From the Newspaper Staff:  Writing for the ISU Daily Vidette newspaper was one highlight of my years in college.  I took notice of one female colleague for two reasons:  She was smart and a good writer, and she was pretty damn good looking.  We talked at times about campus news and made small talk, but never dated.

The Google findings: Well, Newspaper Girl earned a Master’s degree from ISU then catapulted to success in academia. She earned a doctorate, served in top administration positions at several universities and “has extensive experience as a senior-level academic administrator and a national reputation in the area of higher education leadership.”  She’s now president of a college in the southeast and a blogger!

Chances are, I’ll never meet Farm Guy or Newspaper Girl face to face. But I’d like to.  I’d share a beer with Farm Guy and learn the strategies and tactics used to market agriculture.  I’d ask Newspaper Girl what prompted her to pursue academia and perhaps share blogging strategies.

Different people, different lives, but some things in common with me.  Like Farm Guy, I didn’t stray too far from home.  And, like Newspaper Girl, I found a way to make a living manipulating words and ideas.

Technology has, indeed, changed our lives, in some cases for the better.  Without technology, I’d probably never know the direction the lives of two people I knew long ago had taken.

Now, I wonder if they ever googled me?


From One PRDude to Another: My Q & A with That PRDude

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Those of us who call ourselves “dudes” and also call ourselves “public relations” professionals are a pretty rare breed.  But we’re out there.  Please reference this post from April of this year for more insight into other communicators who have reached the ranks of “Dudedom.”  Hey, there’s even a couple of “guys” out there who practice public relations.

Perhaps the most accurate definition of a dude is someone — more than likely a guy — who works with livestock. That person more than likely resides at a dude ranch, a place where I’m quite sure there are few public relations professionals.  Although, some of us in  the industry or other white collar professions may visit a dude ranch on vacation.  You know, like Billy Crystal and his buddies in the film City SlickersAnd, of course, Jeff Bridges played an iconic character called “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski.

I looked up the definition of the word “dude” in the online Urban Dictionary and got this one:  “A word that americans use to address each other. Particularly stoners, surfers and skaters.”  For the record, I ain’t none of the above, although I did try surfing once and used to play hockey.

Now on to the true subject for this post.  Earlier this week, The PRDude was featured in a post from blogger Hao Nguyen, a PR professional from Australia.  He blogs as That PR Dude and concentrates on a question and answer format as part of his Interview Series.  Frankly, I’m flattered to be featured and I plan to use the Q & A format myself soon.

From his online profile, I’m impressed by Hao, I mean, That PR Dude:

1. He’s a fellow Dude, and one who practices PR.

2. He’s young — 23 years old according to his site — and fully engaged in learning the skills needed to excel in the industry.

3. He’s crafted some pretty compelling posts.

4. He blogs through WordPress — just like The PRDude!

For more insight into my career, please read Hao’s post.  And, please visit his blog to learn more about Hao.  We’re on different sides of the world, and I’ve been in the industry a little longer — okay, a lot longer — than Hao.  But I gather we’re both passionate about ethical, effective public relations and its role in the world today.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your definition of a “dude?”

Reflections on 100-Plus Posts as The PRDude

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Never been one to really follow all the rules, this post will be a retrospective on a milestone reached back in September, when I published my 100th post as The PRDude.   The subject of that post was what I learned from some public relations agency leaders at a luncheon my friends and colleagues at PRSA Chicago held.

So why did I hold back on this “looking back” commentary until now, my 102nd post?  Because I can, and as noted above, why live life (or publish a blog, for that matter) according to a formula.

But on to some thoughts on what I learned these past several months, some favorite posts and where I plan to take The PRDude in the future.

This Blogging Stuff is Work. Throughout my career — from journalism, to marketing, to public relations — I have taken great pride in my ability to craft effective communications using the 26 letters of the alphabet.  I try to adhere to established rules of grammar, syntax and punctuation; I strive to craft messages geared to a specific audience.  And, try to say it all in my own voice.

This realization is pretty clear: Blogging — at least producing one that’s informative, offers opinions and encourages dialogue — is challenging and takes a lot of work and dedication.  Even drafting this post, mainly a stream-of-consciousness reflection, is taking a lot of thought and time.  (For the record, it’s Sunday afternoon and I could be outside raking leaves or inside watching football.)

I’ve read that new blogs are created literally every couple of minutes.  Wonder how many are published beyond that debut post?  I hope to publish with more regularity, especially on issues pertaining to public relations and marketing.  (This is the PRDude’s blog, after all.)  The work I get paid for, and other stuff, get in the way.  A remedy: Shorter posts.

What I’d Enter In a Blogging Competition.  Last week, I read an article from the nice folks at ComPro.biz, an online resource for public relations and marketing professionals.  The focus was their “10 Best” PR blogs.  This one wasn’t on the list.  (Perhaps it ranked 11th?)  Anyway, I’m not sure if there’s any true c0mpetition for blogs, like the Academy Awards or Grammys.  If there is, here’s what I’d enter:

  1. The series in June of 2010 related to the botched communications efforts by BP following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Hopefully, this horrible environmental tragedy and the related fallout has prompted the need for crisis communications preparation.
  2. Ever google your name?  Come on, everyone has. Google “Edward Bury” and you’ll find lots of stuff related to me, as well as “another” Edward Bury.  I enjoyed this post about a man with my name who helped bring in the Industrial Revolution.
  3. Before they became cultural icons, the cast from the MTV show “Jersey Shore” were just a bunch of kids who made a nice living having their exploits — getting drunk, fighting, and having gratuitous sex with strangers — filmed and broadcast.  When I read of producers planning a similar type of program here in my beloved Chicago, I urged the PR community to rise up against it.
  4. I continue to maintain that true public relations — the kind based on research, strategies and ethics — is critical to modern society and the American way of life.  This post, inspired after a visit to IHOP with my Mom, embodies that theme.

What’s Next From the PRDude? Frankly, I’m going to focus a lot more on public relations, and here’s how: When I read or hear about a so-called “public relations nightmare” that’s really a policy, political or financial issue, I’ll blog about it. For example, read the first item in this post published in the wake of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

The goal here is to set the record straight.  Public relations has transcended the publicity/press agentry model long ago; it’s up to those of us to know better to identify these errors and correct them. The profession and practice will continue to be hindered if those of us in the industry fail to correct misconceptions that appear very often in the mainstream media and elsewhere.

So, to those reading this:  What instances have you read about where “public relations” is referenced inaccurately and/or unfairly?  Let’s start a dialogue.  Let’s work together.  I’ll identify some kind of tag line for this initiative.

Finally: Thanks to all who have read these words.

A Few Social Media Hot Buttons

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the monthly luncheon hosted by my friends and colleagues from the PRSA Chicago Chapter.  Those loyal followers of The PRDude know I’m a proud, full-fledged member of the chapter, and I even do my best to promote the Accreditation in Public Relations when I can.

Today, the packed audience gained some great insight into the always-changing subject of social media.  Three guys from public relations agencies with household names in the industry presented some great thoughts.  My apologies: I did not get the names of the speakers.

Without further rhetoric, here’s what I scribbled down.

  • Clients are becoming smarter in the social media world and demanding better metrics to measure results.  The challenge remains “how to connect the dots” or results from various platforms.  Makes sense to me, and let me add that measurement of defined objectives should be a factor in every public relations program.
  • B2B clients are accepting the value of social media and recognize the need to reach a small, targeted audience.  And, social media is projected to rise 60 percent in the B2B arena this year.  Since my “real job” (I don’t make any money off this, you know) requires I communicate with people in the commercial real estate world, this is good news.
  • The death of the “one-way” web site is a reality; communicators who are on the ball transition static sites into “blogging platforms.”   Yea!  As a blogger and manager of my organization’s web site, this is the best news to cross my desk — er, monitor — in a long time.  The speaker who made this proclamation went on to say, “Web site should no longer be full of happy corporate talk.  Have your peers  become your ‘brand evangelist.'”  Don’t agree entirely with this statement, and I think evangelists belong in church or on a street corner.
  • Facebook is the most important platform, even for B2B audiences, because that’s where the big dollars are being spent.  As long as money continues to make the world go round, I’ll have to agree.  But I have read that Facebook has reached a saturation point of subscribers here in the U.S., so it’s focusing on other parts of the world.  I do know people outside the U.S. have computers and friends.
  • The geographic platforms — Foursquare, etc. — are still struggling for a foothold in the online world.  Full disclosure: I registered for Foursquare and only checked in around two times.  Both were to the Small Bar, my local watering hole. I know some businesses offer discounts to those who check into their sites.  That won’t work at the Small Bar yet.  Besides, Parker usually slips me a free pint once in a while anyway.

The panel offered more insight about sites that will rise to uncharted heights — Empire Avenue and Get Glue were two that I jotted down.  But I’m not so sure I need to know about these sites just yet.

One observation: I’ve read that good old-fashioned email will someday go the way of the manual typewriter.  If that’s true, then why do all these cool new sites require you to register with your email address?