Did I Meet the Arment Dietrich Challenge?

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

Back in late December, I agreed to take on a new challenge. No, not announce that I’m in training for the 2017 Chicago Marathon, although I hope to build the stamina needed to run a 5K this year.

There's many graphic depictions of the PESO model. This one is courtesy of Mashable.

There’s many graphic depictions of the PESO model. This one is courtesy of Mashable.

As noted in this December 15 post, I accepted the 30-Day Communications Challenge hosted by Arment Dietrich.  The goal was to complete tasks daily in order to develop a PESO Communications Plan.

What an opportunity: Learn through a structured, online, at-my-own-pace program how to incorporate the PESO model — an acknowledged standard for modern public relations and marketing — into my work.

I was inspired! I was dedicated! I faithfully completed my assignments! I learned a lot!

Then, I got bogged down. Then, I got busy. Then, I made excuses.

One “legitimate” excuse of sorts: In mid January I did start a new

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Studies into works from Russian master Vladimir Nabokov occupied time this semester. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

literature course in my quest for a Master’s degree. Lots of reading — 10 novels this semester with the focus on works by Vladimir Nabokov.

By Day 14, halfway through the Challenge, I failed to do my daily “homework.” Yes, I did not complete the Challenge on time. But, I did revisit all the messages, found time to analyze the content and want to share the following thoughts and observations.

First, some parameters.

  1. The site I employed for the Challenge is this one — The PRDude blog. It’s not really a website, but a forum for my thoughts on public relations and other stuff.
  2. Consequently, some of the homework tasks were not applicable, although I did learn something valuable and may incorporate newfound knowledge in the future.

Now, as promised, three takeaways.

Strategy Drives Everything. Challenge content and tasks drove home the message that effective, modern public relations starts with a sound strategy. Wholeheartedly concur.

Tactics Within Reach. The homework from Day 9 inspired potential tactics that could help build the PESO plan. Yes, I can reach objectives of building more awareness and visits to The PRDude through simple tactics like visiting leading PR blogs more often to gain insight on the industry.

Grow That Content Hub. With 333 posts published since September 4, 2009, The PRDude is a repository of content related to public relations, politics, Chicago, popular culture and more. Perhaps I could strengthen the blog by adding categories.

Other lessons from the Challenge — analyzing the site’s domain authority through Moz and launching an email drip campaign — were fascinating and informative; but I think these lessons will have to wait until I complete my paper on Nabokov in May.

One more thing: If you read this, please don’t share with my friend — the one, the only Gini Dietrich.  Don’t want her mad at me.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes You Just Need to Take on a (Communications) Challenge

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

So, now in the fleeting days of 2016, a time of year perhaps overwhelmed by holiday merriment and mayhem, one can take a deep breath, look back and reflect. Reflect on the good and the bad, of course, but also delve into what summoned something extra or engaging from within.

Actually, I have no plans to repel down mountains in 2017, just learn -- in the classroom.

Actually, I have no plans to repel down mountains in 2017, just learn — in the classroom.

More plainly spoken, the year-end provides the opportunity to remember and hopefully savor challenges taken on, met and overcome.

For me, there’s no question on the topic of the biggest challenge of 2016: Enrolling in graduate school and completing my first formal college course in (gulp!) 40 years.

In this July post, I sort of gave notice that I was beginning what will surely be four years of study to earn a Master’s of Arts degree in English. And, in a future post, I’ll share what some thoughts on the class I took this semester — but after I learn my grades.

(Professor: If you read this I’m yearning to know.)

I am enrolled in another English class, which will start in early January. But I need another challenge now, so I decided to take on the 2017 Spin Sucks 30-Day Communications Challenge.  This program provides “everything you need to document and implement an integrated PESO-communications plan to drive business results.”

To get the disclosure stuff out of the way, this initiative is hosted by Arment Dietrich, the Chicago-based public relations firm founded by my friend Gini Dietrich, who was profiled in this space with a rousing Q&A post in early 2015.

And, just to prove I’m in step with integrated digital communications today, I know that

This PESO graphic is courtesy of Arment Dietrich.

This PESO graphic is courtesy of Arment Dietrich.

PESO is the acronym for the “paid-earned-shared-owned” concept of building awareness, acceptance and action on behalf of your client. In fact, this Mashable post from late 2014 even heralds Ms. Dietrich as a champion of the PESO model.

But back to this challenge: What I hope to gain is a better understanding of the PESO concept as well as what technologies, practices and strategies are driving modern communications.  Perhaps I’ll be able to incorporate newfound knowledge into my work for the university; without question I’ll learn and be challenged.

Just in case Gini reads this post, I did do my “homework” for today. In fact, the PRDude blog has a domain authority ranking of 97/100.

Is that good?

 

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.

 

What Are the Top (Fill in a Number) Public Relations Blogs? The PRDude Finds Out

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

In my unquenchable thirst for keeping in step with the ever-evolving practice of public relations, I initiated some primary research. Specifically, a short analysis of the “top” public relations blogs.

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Well, PR Newswire — more precisely an article by the company, not a blog — ranked third in my google search.

Now, what’s “top” certainly is up for debate; and I maintain that both quantitative (like visits and comments) and qualitative (like whether the blogger can craft a lucid, meaningful post) findings should be measured.

For the record, my research was quite rudimentary: I googled “top public relations blogs in 2016” and reviewed the results.

The top three results were, in order:

  1. The Top 50 Public Relations Blogs, a June 28, 2013 post from the nice people at Cision.
  2. 60 of the best Public Relations blogs in the world, published by InkyBee.com.
  3. 2016 Public Relations Trends: Are You Ready for What #PRisNow?, a January 14, 2016 post from PRNewswire.

Okay, so I’ll exclude #3, although the article was well-written and informative, and add another submission from my findings: The Top 10 Public Relations Blogs, a post from a site called Blogworld.com.

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Since it was launched, this blog continually ranks among the “top” public relations blogs.

Before I share some thoughts, I must disclose the following about two blogs that surfaced in my research:

So, I’ll withhold any comments on these two fine online sources geared to us communicators. But here are four very, very general thoughts on the others I visited.

Vehicles for Big Agencies. Not a surprise, but the PR behemoths publish some very impressive blogs that provide a platform to share views, comment on the state of the profession, and of course, help grow the client base. In fact, this agency, which needs no introduction, manages 10 blogs!

I'll bet back in the day, lots of PR pros enjoyed a martini (or two) at lunch.

I’ll bet back in the day, lots of PR pros enjoyed a martini (or two) at lunch.

Whimsical Names. Some PR bloggers thought up attention-grabbing monikers for their sites, something I certainly can relate to. (For the uninitiated, the PRDude is not the pen name for some surfer/slacker named Chad who lives in a shack in the hills above Malibu.) An example is this blog, a mash up of the profession and a famous cocktail.

You Call This a “Blog?” As I understand it, blogs are original content published by the person/organization hosting the site or by a contributor.  Yet, sites like this one — simply an aggregation of posts published by a recruiting company — got rated among the top 50 blogs.

Straightforward PR Blog. To borrow a classic phrase shared in the advertising business, some PR blogs cut through the clutter to provide no-nonsense commentary on the profession.  Visit this site to see what I mean.

Given more time — and I may publish a “part two” analysis — I could analyze much more in the fascinating world of public relations blogging. But I’ll conclude stating that this site is my favorite PR blog at the moment.

The One, The Only Gini Dietrich: A Very Candid Q & A

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

Here’s how I remember it: In the Fall of 2002, I agreed to help judge awards entries on behalf of PRSA Chicago. The judging was to take place at the offices of a small PR firm — Arment Dietrich — run by a charming, smart young woman named Gini Dietrich.

Gini Dietrich, founder and president of Arment Dietrich.

Gini Dietrich, founder and president of Arment Dietrich.

In the dozen years since, Gini has grown her business and cultivated a national reputation for innovative integrated marketing communications. A very in-demand speaker, Gini is the founder of a blog called Spin Sucks, rated by many sources (including me) as among the best in the communications industry. And, she’s the co-author of “Marketing in the Round,” a guide book on developing integrated marketing campaigns, and author of “Spin Sucks,” a primer for managing communications in the digital age.

I could go on, but will conclude that Gini Dietrich is my friend, and I’m thrilled she took the time to respond to some questions from The PRDude. Here’s an unedited account of our email exchange.

 1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the vast majority — if not all — of your career has been on the public relations agency side. A purposefully loaded question, but are agency PR professionals “better” than those who work in corporate or non-profit environments?

Heck, no! Why would they be better? I can tell you we’re not any better than our client counterparts. The experience is just different. It would be kind of nice to work on only one client, like you do when you’re in-house. But I think I’d also miss the not really knowing what you’re going to do from day to day. For instance, a client’s attorney called me the other night and said they needed me in a board meeting the next day, but that I had to sign a special NDA that evening. I was NOT planning on being in a board room for three days that week, but so be it. I kind of love that about working on the agency side.

2. You built Arment Dietrich from a one-person (plus intern) consultancy to a powerhouse communications business serving a vast range of big name clients. What one thing did you do right?

Spin SucksJust one!? Come on, EB! You know I’m perfect. I’ve done everything right. This will lead to your next question, but pivoting the business in 2010, before any other PR firm did was a pretty smart move. The truth is, it wasn’t very strategic. I was just tired of being seen as a firm that only does media relations. So I changed the conversation.

3. My sources tell (full disclosure: I read it on your blog) that “Arment Dietrich is no longer a PR firm.”  If you’re no longer a PR firm, what are you?

Unfortunately, when most executives think “PR,” they think “media relations.” The truth is we, of course, are still a PR firm, but writing that blog post and changing our messaging turned the conversation with prospects from “I want to get on Oprah” to “how can you help me grow my business?” I’d much rather have the second conversation.

4. Your current personal schedule requires travel. Lots of Arment Dietrichtravel. Do you miss the “good old days” built around client meetings, strategy sessions and new business development? When was the last time you wrote a news release?

I’m lucky that I still get to do client meetings and strategy sessions and about 75% of my job is business development, which is where the travel comes in (speaking is, by far, one of the best ways to generate qualified leads). But the last time I wrote a news release or did any tactical work like that? A looooong time ago. I will share with you that about six years ago, a friend and adviser told me I had to decide if I wanted to be a really good communications professional or if I wanted to grow a company. He said, if it were the latter, I had to get out of the weeds. So I made the decision to grow a business and haven’t looked back.

5. My sources also told me (okay, I think you told me) that you’re originally from Utah and like to ski. Why, oh why did an avid skier move to Chicago?  Are there mountains around here I don’t know about?

I did grow up in Utah! I also couldn’t escape quickly enough. You know how, when you’re young and you have the whole world in front of you, you don’t think about getting homesick or leaving a part of your soul in the mountains? When I moved to Chicago, I had NO IDEA I’d get ridiculously homesick in October and it would last through March. This year hasn’t been so bad, though, because Utah has had barely any snow so they’re skiing on the crappy manmade kind and that’s not fun skiing. Someday, when this business is at its next level, we’ll buy a condo in Colorado so I can ski all winter and enjoy Chicago in the summer.

* * *

The PRDude has had the honor of publishing posts from other public relations leaders. Visit the links below to read posts featuring:

1. Nick Kalm, founder and president of Reputation Partners, a dynamic Chicago firm.

2. Gerry Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, the past Chair and CEO of PRSA and founder of strategic consultancy Redphlag of California.

3. Chris Ruys, founder and president of Chris Ruys Communications, a boutique Chicago PR firm started more than 30 years ago.

4. Ron Culp, a legendary figure in Chicago public relations (and I don’t use that word lightly) and now on the faculty at DePaul University.