Okay Fast Company: Time to Slow Down and Listen

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

One general component of a public relations plan is some kind of “call to action.”

Image courtesy of truconversion.com.

Well, I maintain the public relations profession should rally to voice strong opposition to a recent article that claimed public relations was “failing.”

As you can ascertain, I found the piece, “Here’s What the PR Industry Is Failing,” to be inaccurate and totally void of any compelling reason to be published.

But the article was published May 1 by Fast Company and written by Bill Hankes, noted in copy below the article as “a longtime public relations veteran” and now founder of a startup “that helps journalists find the information they need to develop stories, some of which comes from PR professionals, but most of which doesn’t.”

(A question: How much is “most of which” as noted above?)

The crux of Mr. Hankes’ thesis here: Services used to disseminate communications initiated by public relations professionals are “outdated” and “facilitate bad behavior.”

Rather than attempt to bash Mr. Hankes and Fast Company for spreading erroneous and unsubstantiated commentary, I’ll take the high road of sorts.

(To step off the high road for a short time, Mr. Hankes: Refers to all of us in the profession as “publicists;” neglects to note that ethical, effective public relations is driven by sound strategies; and, champions incorporation of unproven “newer technology” to replace what many in the industry use regularly.  I could go on, but will stop here.)

On to the high road. This kind of commentary only perpetuates the erroneous belief that public relations is purely publicity, or to use the old-school term, “press agentry.” Yes, there are publicists out there and perhaps some press agents, but those disciplines do not reflect modern public relations counsel.

Back to the call to action, I would encourage all serious PR professionals to take every relevant opportunity to educate clients, friends, the person sitting next to you at the coffee bar, about the full scope of services we provide.

I’d be glad to discuss with Mr. Hankes, should he be interested.

* * *

Full Disclosure: I learned of this article from a Facebook post made by Gerry Corbett, APR, a “major PR dude” featured in this space back in January of 2013. Thanks, Gerry.

Hey Hagar the Horrible: You Got Public Relations Right the First Time

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

Okay. What’s “wrong” with the two cartoons that accompany this post?


Note to comic artist Chris Browne: I really am a fan of the “Hagar” strip. Source: Hagar the Horrible.

Need more clarification? What needs to be addressed and challenged from a public relations perspective?

First, some background on these “Hagar the Horrible“commentaries should will help.

The top strip was published six years ago.  In fact I wrote about it in this post from January of 2010, where I somehow merged an idea of how an example used in the upcoming State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama and the comic message from artist Chris Browne supported public relations.

(Yes, I’ve been known to steer the discussion of public relations down some truly divergent paths on occasion. But hey, it’s my blog.)

Back to the image.  The story in the top strip depicts a public relations consultant questioning a nobleman on the performance of Hagar and his viking raiding party following a pillage. This is good, because as we know, effective, strategic public relations is driven by research.

Now to the bottom strip, which appeared in the October 7 issue of the print version of the Chicago Tribune that’s delivered to our home each day.  Here, a disillusioned Hagar, hunched over a bar nursing a cocktail, seeks advice from friend Lucky Eddie on a source to “cook up a story” to mitigate past misgivings.

Well, Lucky Eddie says, the right person is at arm’s length away: The King’s Public Relations Director!

This is bad, because it infers — at least to me — that public relations tactics can mask unethical or perhaps even criminal actions through successful media relations. To many, Hagar is just trying to get some “good public relations” to solve his image problem.

Ah, Hagar, if it was only that easy.





A Guide to PR 101 … And Then Some

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

Those of us who contribute to the blogosphere certainly appreciate getting recognized for our contributions.

I certainly do.

techfunction1That’s why I was honored to receive an email from business writer Phoebe Parlade, inspired to reach out after reading a 2016 PRDude post.  Phoebe, who writes for the U.K. magazine TechFunction, thought I would be interested in reviewing an online report designed to guide business owners on how to incorporate strategic public relations.

Well, I am the PRDude and I was flattered that my humble blog inspired this inquiry. And, I sort of covered this topic in a post from March of this year.

The report, “What Is Public Relations?,” is a very cool and valuable digital resource that provides insight and information to business owners — or anyone who wants to better comprehend public relations.  (And, for the record, the resource is produced by TechFunction.)

Visitors to the site will learn an accurate definition of the practice and some relevant history dating from ancient times to today. The section on relevant modern PR quotes features tweets from leading practitioners and thought leaders, including my amazing Chicago friend and colleague Gini Dietrich, profiled in this space in 2015.  And, the content that addresses public relations in the digital age provides a solid analysis of the impact of digital in shaping and controlling the modern conversation.

And, as one would anticipate, there’s a large amount of content that addresses strategies and tactics.  I concur with much of what is presented, but wouldn’t advise business owners to follow the link to the press release template and follow the advice presented.  My advice is to hire a seasoned public relations professional for this task. Drafting a compelling news story/release is not a paint-by-numbers exercise.

But what struck home for me was this: Throughout the report, the authors drive home the fact that public relations is a strategic process and “more aligned with the management of all relationships and communication between an organization and the public.”

Well said, indeed.


Shout Out to CBS on PR Advice for Small Business

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

You and all my thousands of regular readers (okay, hundreds; well, more like dozens) probably wonder where ideas originate for new PRDude posts.

Lots of places, actually, including from the original non-print mass communications medium — radio.

Inspiration can strike anytime; like while behind the wheel of a still fine automobile.

Inspiration can strike anytime; like while behind the wheel of a still fine two-decade-old automobile. No, it’s not for sale.

For example, while driving Sunday in my now vintage 1996 Camry on errands, I heard a spot for CBS Small Business Pulse, described on its Facebook page as a “go-to, daily resource for the small business owner.” That aptly describes the site, which features content on finance, human resources, legal, marketing, sales and technology for the small businessman or woman.

The radio spot I heard referred to content on — you guessed it — public relations, or more specifically, hiring public relations counsel; Naturally, I was inspired to explore and learn more from the Small Business Pulse site.

Small business

If the team from Small Business Pulse reads this post: Feel free to include my suggestions on how to work effectively with PR counsel.

In the Marketing section, I found the article in question:  “Expert Knowledge To Best Prepare Your Small Business When Hiring A Public Relations Firm.”

The article, credited to the owner of a Dallas PR firm, offers some very good first steps: Learn about the different kinds of public relations agencies and consultants in the marketplace; set realistic expectations for results; and, plan to work in partnership with the counsel you hire.

But I felt the post could have offered small business owners more advice. So as a service to small business owners everywhere, here are three other critical factors to consider before engaging in PR counsel:

  1. Transcend Publicity. Effective modern public relations equals more than attention and coverage by the media and bloggers. Small business owners should demand their agency do much more, such as identify potential threats to the company or provide crisis communications counsel.
  2. Center on Strategy. Effective modern public relation programs are based on strategy. Small business owners should demand that the scope of work presented by the agency is built around sound strategies cultivated from primary research, market analysis and an understanding of client’s products or services.
  3. Measurable Results. Effective modern public relations success is realized by more than media placements. Small business owners should demand results that illustrate how the communications services provided led to more sales, increased attendance, better awareness or greater market share.

There’s more I could share, but I’ve hit the proverbial wall. Perhaps another ride in the Camry is needed.



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?

Here’s Something That’s Truly “Horrific,” and It’s Not a “PR Blunder”

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

In recent posts, The PRDude addressed has addressed decidedly non-public relations type of subjects:

Now, it’s back to basics: commenting on public relations or references to the practice.  An online post that appeared a few days ago sparked my interest, while at the same time brought on borderline rage.

Here’s a link to the post in question, which appeared twice this week in an online newsletter published by Commpro.biz. The commentary actually is well-conceived and I somewhat agree with the author.  But there are two aspects of the headline that I find offensive, inaccurate and inflammatory:

“Grading Obama: The President Commits a Horrific PR Blunder in His Friday Economics Press Conference.”

The author was offering a critique on President Obama’s comment, “The private sector is doing fine,” in relation to jobs and the economy.  The President made the comment at a news conference June 1.

1.  Let’s start with the use of the word “horrific.” I visited the Free Online Dictionary site and found this definition for the word: “grossly offensive to decency or morality; causing horror.”

Now it’s your turn.  When you think of something that causes horror, does a presidential news conference come to mind?  Not me.  Perhaps a mining disaster, or what’s left of a town following an F-5 tornado, but not some perhaps poorly chosen words from an elected official, even if he’s the leader of the free world.  The author even offers seven reasons why the six words spoken by the President constitutes “a horrific blunder.”

My response to this blatant hyperbole:  “Horse feathers,” but you can fill in another word that means the same thing.

2. The President made the statement in question at a news conference.  He was fielding questions from newsmen and women. That’s part of his job.   He was not practicing “public relations,” at least as I define and envision effective modern public relations to be.

Professional communicators who craft strategies and distribute messages on behalf of the President and his administration practice public relations.  Perhaps the President made a political blunder, but I don’t believe it had anything to do with public relations, which too often gets lumped with anything that goes wrong.  Read my post on the fallout from the 2010 Gulf oil rig tragedy to get another perspective.

Those of us who truly believe in the value of effective public relations should muster our collective resources to comment on situations like this one.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to shake off the derogatory references to “flack” and “spin doctor.”

There. I feel better.  Now, it’s your turn.