New Advice for PR Graduates This May

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

One of the most visited of the 167 posts published by The PRDude graced the blagosphere around this time last year.  In the post, I offered graduates of college public relations programs some advice on how to establish themselves in the profession.images advice

Offered were goals, strategies, objectives and tactics — thoughts structured within classic components of an effective public relations plan.

And, I even made this offer:  Reach out if you wanted any advice or direction.  (For the record, I’m still waiting; but the offer stands.)

A year later, I’m a little older and hopefully a lot wiser.  And, since I also am images dad advicesearching for that next great job in public relations, I’ve had time to think.  Here are a few other thoughts, wisdom I’m passing down to public relations colleagues-to-be.

  1. Learn the Definition of “Public Relations.” You’d be surprised at how many people out there in this great world — some who claim to be “public relations professionals” — still maintain that public relations is publicity.  Or, “just like marketing.”  After all, it’s easy to “get good PR.”  Right?  This profession keeps evolving, largely through continual new directions on the digital front.  But the fundamental purpose of public relations as a strategic means to communicate and build relationships has not changed.  Learn more from PRSA.
  2. Learn to Write (Beyond Tweets, Posts & Blogs).  It’s been a long images advice chairstime (hey, more than a long time) since I enrolled and completed a for-credit college course.  So, I’m not sure if students today are required to take a semester of English Composition 101 or some other fundamental writing course.  My 101 instructor was a guy named Professor Brosnahan, a very strict proponent of the written word.  He would scrawl a big red “F” on your composition for any error — spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, logic.   In this era of tweets, IMs and posts, the true public relations professional will have solid writing skills that transcend 140 characters.
  3. PR = Business Practice = Not Free.  As a public relations professional, you’ll be required to manage event budgets, approve vendor expenses, price out media distribution services and many other tasks that require money.  That’s part of business, and public relations is a business.  Furthermore, businesses are in business to make a profit; and, even non-profit associations with public relations departments run them like a business.  Learn the business side of the industry and how to manage a spreadsheet.

One more thing: As noted, I’ve had an open door policy for those who want direction on public relations careers and opportunities.  In the past year, I’ve fielded emails and a few calls.  Only one guy actually followed up on the offer to meet. There’s lots to be said about the desire to get out of the house.

Your thoughts?

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So Long 2012, And Hopefully So Long to Some Other Stuff

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

By now, friend of The PRDude, you probably have read 10 or more “Top 10” lists.  These appear regularly online and in print and broadcast communications, but they’re especially prevalent now — as we count down the days and hours of another year.

Rest assured, you won’t read any “Top 10” or “Top (fill in the blank)” list in this space today. (You can get a way-cool summary and analysis of traffic from this blog courtesy of the way-cool people from WordPress.)   What I plan to do is to just offer some thoughts on public relations and “other stuff,” as keeping with the tag line and theme of this blog.  You might get 10, but probably less because I want to finish soon.  Full disclosure:  I’m writing this late Monday morning and looking forward to a nap so I can stay up to midnight.

Here goes.

top 10Let’s Put a “-30-” to Top 10 Lists.  Those of us how came out of the journalism business know that it was traditional to type “-30-” to denote the end of a story.  Why don’t we put a “-30-” to the preponderance of year-end lists, especially Top 10 lists.  Why not Top 9 or Top 11? .  Seriously, it’s kind of a communications cop out, often predictable and generally just takes up space.  Why not just follow topics of interest year-round?

Let’s Put More Focus on Defining “Public Relations” in the 21st Century. Earlier this prsa_logoyear, the Public Relations Society of America unveiled a new definition for “public relations.” The good folks at PRSA employed a modern communications tactic — crowdsourcing — and combined it with good old-fashioned research.  I participated in the effort, and I was thrilled that the new definition included the phrase “strategic communications process.” It’s strategy that separates true practitioners from the hucksters and incompetents.  But I think the definition needs to be augmented with references to the traditional (like media relations) and the always evolving (like social media) forms of communication.  The next Pinterest will change PR strategies and tactics for many of us.

snarkyLet’s Cease with Snarky-Themed PR/Communications Blogs. We’ve all read them, and many of us — The PRDude included — have contributed to posts or forums that have little to do but give the opportunity to share some mean-spirited thought under the guise of humor or adding to the general conversation.  Do we really benefit from your opinion or my opinion on what “buzzwords” to eliminate from our daily communications?  If I want to “think outside of the box” or “throw someone under the bus,” I will.  But please stop using “non uncommon” because “common” works better!

I could go on, but that’s it for now. If I could provide a summary to the above, and hopefully to all my commentary here, it’s this: Those of us who define ourselves as “public relations professionals” should adhere to high ethical standards, only communicate messages that offer some contribution to the public well-being, steadfastly practice open disclosure and continue to explore and promote new and more effective ways to communicate.  Want more? Read my October post on this subject.

The word count has just gone north of 500, so it’s time to call it a day and a year. Thanks again to all who digest my thoughts. What topics/issues should The PRDude address in 2013?