The PRDude’s Day as Delegate at PRSA 2013 Conference

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

PHILADELPHIA — It’s certainly appropriate that this post is being published here in the city known for being the place where our founding fathers set the wheels of democracy into motion.  (As well as the place where you can get a real cheese steak sandwich.)

Why you may ask?  Well, because The PRDude — actually Edward M. Bury, APR — served the Chicago Chapter of the Public ??????????Relations Society as a delegate at the 2013 PRSA Leadership Assembly.  On Saturday, October 26, PRSA leaders from across the nation gathered to conduct the Society’s business and recognize accomplishments.

My delegate responsibilities included voting on two Bylaws Amendments and the Nominating Committee Report.  While important to the Society, I believe readers will take more interest in the following:

PRSA One compOne PRSA. In his report on the State of the Society, Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, shared many positive thoughts about the profession, PRSA, the APR credential and other topics under the One PRSA banner.   My big takeaway: The Society has returned to 2007 membership numbers.

Bottom Line.  The Society is on sound financial footing, despite the still struggling economy, a mammoth force of nature and literally having the ceiling cave in.  Those were some thoughts from President and COO Bill Murray, CAE.  Some insight on the last two topics: The PRSA office in downtown Manhattan was out of commission for several days following Super Storm Sandy, and a water pipe rupture caused a ceiling to collapse and a minor flood of PRSA offices.  My big takeaway: Leadership and staff were well-prepared for challenges, responded promptly and demonstrated strong commitment to PRSA and the profession.

Fearless Future. Following the 10 a.m. break, Chair-Elect Joe Cohen, APR, trumpeted the theme of a “Fearless Future” for the profession as the guiding force behind the Strategic Plan 2014-16.  Public relations must embrace change and “adapt, evolve or risk irrelevance,” he said. Elizabeth A. Pesci, APR, Fellow PRSA noted that an improving business climate will lead to opportunities for practitioners.  My big takeaway: Thoughts I wholeheartedly subscribe to. APR_logo

Fixing APR. A report from consultant Laura Freebairn-Smith, Ph.D. of the Organizational Performance Group on a study regarding the Accredited in Public Relations credential especially hit home, given my passion for the credential, years spent on the Universal Accreditation Board and work with PRSA Chicago to help others earn Accreditation.  “Not a pretty picture solution,” was Dr. Freenbairn-Smith’s overall assessment of Accreditation, which as declined in terms of numbers, interest and respect.   My big takeaway: Thrilled that a sound assessment will guide what hopefully be a renaissance for the APR.

Lots of other stuff took place during the Assembly, but I’ll stop for now.

My final takeaway from my participation as a delegate: A lot of smart, successful professionals are working hard and allocating time and resources to guide the Society forward and improve the public relations profession. My role as a delegate hopefully a small difference.  What about you? What are you doing to “Advance the Profession, and the Professional?”

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Now, After Me: I am an Accredited Public Relations Professional!

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

There was some spirited online debate last week on a subject that’s close to my heart: The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential. The debate took place within the APR LinkedIn group and included comments from current and past members of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and APRs at large.  As of this writing, there were 26 comments — a pretty good number.

aprlogoLet me get the disclosure stuff out of the way: The PRDude (make that Edward M. Bury) is Accredited, and I served on the UAB for two three-year terms. If you’ve read previous posts, you’re aware that I’m passionate about the credential. It was the best professional achievement I accomplished since earning a Bachelor’s degree a long time ago.

Here’s what sparked the debate: A current UAB member started the discussion with a comment stating that the Board would focus efforts in 2013 on achieving these three goals:

1) Conclude beta testing on the entry-level credential in public relations;
2) Enhance the value of APR to Accredited members; and
3) Revitalize the APR brand to external audiences with a heavy focus on the HR and business communities.

Comments from APRs (you have to hold the credential to be part of this LinkedIn group) were generally supportive. Some questioned the value for  the proposed entry-level credential, a development I knew about and wholeheartedly support. But some questioned whether the UAB should focus more towards more on items 2 and 3 from the above list, rather than allocate efforts toward #1.

I posted two comments because I wanted to make these points clear:

  • UAB members dedicate their time and allocate personal resources (okay, out-of-pocket expenses for most) to attend three or four meetings annually and conduct Board work at other times — just to manage, administer and market the Accreditation in Public Relations program.
  • Promoting the value of the credential has long been a focus — but it’s a challenging task give the fact the dollars needed for effective marketing just aren’t there.

That’s why I’m drafting this post.  I’m hoping all APRs — those who earned Accreditation prior to 2003 under the essay-focused process, and those like me who earned it when the program was re-engineered and built around a computer-based examination — will do their part and promote the credential whenever possible.  Let’s start with this virtual cheer:  “I am an Accredited Public Relations Professional!

Now, don’t you feel better?

APRs are expected to provide exceptional public relations counsel and adhere to high ethical standards every day we’re on the job. And, I trust that’s the case for just about every practitioner who holds the credential. But perhaps we don’t do a good enough job in communicating what those three letters stand for, why we earned them and what they mean to the industry.

Fellow APRs, make it a practice to promote Accreditation. There are around 5,000 professionals who are Accredited today. That’s a pretty substantial number of communicators; collectively, let’s make our voice heard. Blog about the impact Accreditation had on your career. Promote it on social media platforms. Be part of Accreditation training within your company or PRSA Chapter.

Now, it’s your turn: If you’re Accredited or have an opinion on how to raise awareness for the value of Accreditation, please share.

A Conversation with Major PR Dude Gerry Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA

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

Back in the summer of 2010, The PRDude — actually, it was Edward M. Bury, APR –had the honor of serving on the Nominating Committee for the Public Relations Society of America. The NomCom group, as it’s called, meets in Chicago each August to approve candidates seeking elected leadership positions on PRSA.  I was a last-minute replacement from the Midwest District, but thrilled to have the opportunity to play a role in how the Society is governed and work with fellow APRs and industry leaders from across the nation.

Plus, I knew the food would be good, as well as the conversation.

218_redphlag_llc_largeOne of the candidates on the slate that year was Gerard F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA.  Gerry, as he’s better known, went on to be elected Chair and CEO of the Society.  At the NomCom gathering, I recall that Gerry was engaging, outspoken and very passionate about the Society. With his year leading the world’s largest public relations organization in the rear view mirror, Gerry now has time to focus on Redphlag, LLC, the strategic consultancy he founded.

Last week Gerry and I spoke via phone.  He was at home in California doing what many Californians do: Driving.  I was here in Chicago.  Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

1. Reflecting on your term as CEO and Chair of PRSA, What the single greatest achievement accomplished for the membership?  The roll out of the MBA Initiative, followed by an extremely successful advocacy effort and a successful international conference.  And, let me add engagement with colleagues in Australia, China, Croatia, the Middle East, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and the UK.  I was invited several times to speak at PR events overseas.  I went to Moscow twice . On on trip, I helped the Russian Public Relations Association celebrate its 20th anniversary.  I participated in a two-and-a-half day conference where I spoke several times. I was pleasantly surprised by the many questions that were posed regarding ethics and integrity. 296_20100929a_gcorbett_024Small

2. What is PRSA doing to make sure it’s going to be relevant to the next generation of public relations professionals? PRSA has instituted programming that’s focused on social media through the free webinars available to members, and there’s a grassroots initiative to broaden the “young professional” movement at the Chapter level.  A good portion of PRSA’s 22,000 members are 25 to 45 years of age, so there’s a strong effort to help young professionals gain the skill sets they’ll need.

3. Can you share some results or achievements for The Business  Case for Public Relations? We’re starting to see that there’s a higher proportion of business professionals who have a better understanding of the value and impact public relations has to the business enterprise.  I’ve done a great deal of advocacy work regarding the importance of public relations to the enterprise.  The MBA initiative and advocacy work are part of the Business Case efforts.

4. Can you share thoughts on the future of the APR credential? PRSA members represent around 80 percent of those practitioners who earn the APR, and we still own the intellectual property.  The APR is critically important to PRSA and to those members who have earned it.  The UAB is working on an entry-level credential for college graduates that we envision will be a feeder program for the APR. I earned my APR back in 1982 when I was with the Chicago Chapter.

5. What will life be like for you, after a year as PRSA CEO and Chair? I’ll support my successor (Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA) in carrying our programs that support and add value to our members.  And, I’ll continue to mentor and coach and rebuild my consulting practice.  People may not realize that as chair and CEO of the organization,  I might have spent 40 to 60 percent of my time on PRSA business.  I probably traveled 200,000 miles last year to speak to chapters and around the world. I’ll still be active on the Board for another year, because there are still some things I want to accomplish.

Thanks, Gerry, for your time and candor. What questions would you like to offer Gerry Corbett?


Quick Career Online Tune Up. When Was the Last Time You Had One?

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

Just a few minutes ago, I made a few subtle — but important — edits to my online profile on LinkedIn, perhaps the most “serious” of the big three social media platforms.  Okay, I guess Pinterest has made a case for there being a Number Four.

Here’s what I did:Image

1. I added “association management” to my profile.  Just two words, but noteworthy and accurate because I’ve spent around one-third of my professional career in the association management industry.  For the record, according to the American Society of Association Executives, there are a lot off us out there, and we represent just about every segment of business and society. I just happen to work for an association that represents real estate interests.

2. I posted some information and links on the new Sections feature of LinkedIn. (Here’s how to find it: From your profile, look for this content:

NEW Add sections

Add sections to reflect achievements and experiences on your profile.

There are a few Section options. I added information on my work on the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and a link to my web page that contains a few published works on public relations and real estate topics.

That’s it.

So why did I augment my digital footprint? Well, it was quick, easy and free. And, it’s kind of reflective of our world today. We need to stay current and keep pace with technology’s seemingly limitless breakthroughs and upgrades. Or, at least we think we do.

During my career I have volunteered on a few other occasions, but I choose to put only my UAB work for now — because it’s the most recent and significant. And, I have published hundreds of works by my byline (Edward M. Bury, not PRDude), but felt it was more prudent to direct viewers to a page with a handful of work.

So, will my “online tune up” yield any tangible, measurable results? You tell me. Visit me now on LinkedIn and let me know. By the way, when was the last time you had one?

Hey PRSA: Here’s What I’d Do to Advance The Profession

By Edward M. Bury, APR

Rains and wind pummeled much of Chicago Sunday, stripping away the fall colors from many trees here in my neighborhood.  The middle of October kind of signals the start of the end of the growing season around here.

Looking North on the 2900 block of North Whipple Street — before the fall.

For example: The scene adjacent to this image — taken just a week ago — shows trees in full fall display. It doesn’t look like that now around here, and probably in lots of other places.

And, that’s okay, because that’s what’s supposed to happen.  Things change.  It’s part of the “natural order of things,” you know.

This may be mixing metaphors, but something similar took place on the other side of the continent from here.  At the 2012 Assembly  of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held in San Francisco, a slate of candidates was nominated (and I trust later elected) to serve the interests of the 20,000-plus members of the Society.  They’ll be entrusted with guiding the Society and replace other leaders who served admirably the year before.

For the record, I know some of these folks personally, having worked with them on the Universal Accreditation Board.   I’m confident they’ll do a fine job, and I maintain that men and women who volunteer and are elected to national office for the public relations profession probably do so for three key reasons:

1.  They believe in the mission of PRSA, which is to “Advance the Profession and the Professional.”

2. They gain value in serving the Society and working with top-level professionals from across the nation.

3. It’s cool to tell colleagues you’re part of the PRSA national hierarchy.
Okay, just kidding about the last one, although there may be some truth there.  Back to reality.  I applaud the incoming national leaders and wish them much success in 2013.  If any of the new officers read this post, please accept my congratulations.  And, when you have the time, please consider these suggestions on how to Advance the Profession.

Stress Ethical Practices.  There’s no place in modern public relations for stretching ethical guidelines.  It doesn’t matter if  it’s a colossal ethical campaign blunder committed by a national firm or poor judgment from a sole practitioner, this nonsense has to stop if public relations is expected to be respected in the C-Suite or on Main Street.  Last month, PRSA held Ethics Awareness Month.  Those uncertain of how ethics applies to public relations should learn.  Now.

Continue to Define What We Do. For some reason, the world does not comprehend the difference between public relations and other types of communications.  In March, PRSA used crowdsourcing to engage professionals to define public relations.  I wholeheartedly agree with the definition, and I do my best to promote it.  The one word within that drives it home: Strategic.  Without a program strategy, we’re delegated to be the people who blow up balloons at parties.

Drive Home the Value of Accreditation.  In the “full disclosure” department, I served on the UAB for six years and have been passionate about promoting the merits of earning the Accreditation in Public relations credential.  The credential has been under fire, probably since it was founded.  But in a profession without licensing, it’s one tangible way to identify a professional who has demonstrated at least competency in the fundamentals necessary in modern public relations.

So, here’s a virtual toast to the 2013 PRSA Leadership Team.  If you could share thoughts on how to improve the profession, what would they be?

The PRDude Goes to PR (As In Puerto Rico) Part 1

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Buenas noches.  I mean, good evening.  A few days back from our recent vacation trip to Puerto Rico, and I’m still flaunting my command of Spanish.  Along with the aforementioned greeting, I mastered ordering beer and asking directions to the men’s room. 

Last week, Susan and I spent a delightful week in Old San Juan, the commonwealth’s capitol city, rich with culture, history, architecture, beauty, food and drink.  In Part 1 of this report, I’ll chronicle some thoughts from a real PR guy from, well, PR.

I’m referring to my friend and former colleague, Carlos Rivera, APR, Executive Partner at Partners Communications of Bayamon, Puerto Rico.  I’ve known Carlos for six years, as we served together during my years on the Universal Accreditation Board.  Carlos represents Asociacion de Relacionistas Professionales de Puerto Rico, one of the nine organizations that make up the UAB.

Carlos Rivera, APR.

During dinner at a hip restaurant called Casa Lola just across the beach in the resort district on the Atlantic Ocean, Carlos shared these thoughts on his business and the state of public relations in Puerto Rico as we drank white wine and dined on some tremendous food.

The Client Roster. Partners Communications represents some pretty well-known brands like United Airlines for media relations, crisis communications and other duties.  Carlos said the shop just picked up a distributor of consumer products, and we discussed some strategies on how to incorporate Facebook and other social media to help build awareness.  Perhaps use Facebook to drive traffic to an event.

The PR Business in PR. Overall, business for practitioners on the island is good, especially for the small and boutique agencies like Partners Communications.  Clients are recovering from the lean years that battered budgets everywhere and many can’t afford the hourly rates and retainers charged by the agencies flaunting household names.

The APR Needs a Push in PR. The Accreditation in Public Relations credential is available to practitioners in Puerto Rico; but like here stateside, the big agencies and corporations have not fully embraced the value of the APR and the leaders are not making the credential a priority for those committed to the profession.

As noted above, my Spanish is somewhat limited.  Make that really limited. But during our time in Puerto Rico, I experienced a modern nation (okay, commonwealth) with diverse, passionate people and a relatively thriving economy.  Yes, there were pockets of poverty, but you’ll find that everywhere.

Have to believe that an enhanced public relations community could help the commonwealth build awareness for its key economic drivers — tourism, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.  (Yes, pharmaceuticals.)  Carlos said many of the big shops all have offices on the island, as noted, there are plenty of opportunities for start up players.

We noticed a grand new mixed use real estate development under construction along the harbor.   Real estate — that’s the industry I know best.  Hey Carlos: Need another partner?

Next time, I’ll provide more of a travelogue on our days and nights in Old San Juan.

PRSA Chicago 2012: Staying on Course, But in a Different Direction

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

“Volunteer” is one of those cool words that can be used three ways: Noun, verb and adjective.   And, of course, we all know the definition of the word.

In practice, being a volunteer is a very positive thing to do.  It’s beneficial to offer uncompensated service for activities, causes and events that have personal meaning.   There’s definite “feel good” value to giving precious time, resources and energies.

As a volunteer (the noun form of the word), I’ve received as much as I’ve given.  As 2012 unfolds, I can reflect back on six years spent as a member of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the body that grants and administers the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential, which I proudly hold.  It was a tremendous opportunity to learn from some outstanding public relations professionals and build friendships — all while volunteering (the verb form of the word).

The Accreditation in Public Relations credential is the hallmark of individual excellence.

The past few years, I chaired or co-chaired the UAB Marketing Communications work group.  I led efforts to build awareness for the Accreditation program, promote acceptance of the credential in public relations and engage practitioners to pursue and earn the APR.  Our group developed a sound plan with realistic goals and objectives.  I was proud of what we accomplished.

When my second three-year term on the UAB ended, I needed to turn my volunteer (the adjective form of the word) efforts elsewhere. This year, I’ll stay close to home and contribute what I can to PRSA Chicago.  My role will be to serve on the Accreditation Committee; our goal will be the build the number of Accredited members in what is the fourth largest chapter within the Public Relations Society of America.

Yesterday, the chapter held a very lively and encouraging kick off indoctrination meeting. There were more than 20 colleagues — some I knew and have worked with, others new to me — in attendance.  The agenda addressed the great strides made in terms of revenue, events and membership growth and retention in 2011, future activities from the Young Professionals Network and the reinstatement of an Advocacy Committee.  We talked about plans for a PRSA Midwest Regional conference in July, and the annual Skyline Awards slated for early June.

There was spirited debate over mainstay kind of program and activities, and equally spirited debate about new stuff. That energized me.

It’s imperative that PRSA Chicago — or just about any volunteer body or for-profit company for that matter — stay the course on programs and initiatives that have worked before, but be ready to wipe the slate clean and be open to change and a different direction.

Collectively, the volunteer public relations professionals who are charged with guiding PRSA Chicago through 2012 have an open blueprint to craft another successful 12 months.  Based on the enthusiasm displayed at the kick off meeting and willingness to reinvent itself, I think the Chapter is poised to thrive in the year ahead.

Are you a member of a PRSA Chapter or another communications organization?  What’s your forecast for 2012?