Reflections on Food and TV Chefs This Thanksgiving Week

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

As chronicled in this post last August, The PRDude likes food.  Well, really, who doesn’t?  And, for a while in the late 1980s, I held the position of vice president for a boutique Chicago public relations firm that specialized in restaurants.  (As you could imagine, there were great fringe benefits: Lots of great lunches and dinners cooked by leading chefs.)  I managed campaigns designed to build awareness for new restaurants and campaigns designed to drive patrons to revisit existing restaurants.

This was an era when the term “celebrity chef” was still not quite part of our lexicon or popular culture.  What’s more, the phrase “foodie” was still not coined.

Today, of course, a growing segment of the population is obsessed with all things food, a development that launched an entire TV network devoted to food, competitive food programs and the rise of the so-called celebrity chef.  There even are programs where the host eats bugs and other odd stuff and one where a man “challenges” food — to see if he could consume more than should be humanly possible in a single sitting.

Let’s recognize that the networks air programs where — gasp! — a chef gives instructions on how to cook.  You know, a show that offers recipes, technique and insight on ingredients and nutrition.  A few decades back, there were programs like this, and they featured passionate cooks who taught you how to prepare and love food, but without the preponderance of F-bombs, kitchen tantrums and shoulder-to-wrist tattoos.

Two of my favorites:

1.  Jeff Smith, who cooked as “The Frugal Gourmet.”

Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet

2.  Keith Floyd, who hosted “Floyd on Food.”

Both men have passed on to that Big Kitchen in the Sky.  Both, I think, would have hung up their aprons after watching some of the potty-mouthed, tough guy, renegade prince and princesses that populate “Top Chef,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and some of the other popular programs aired today.

Smith, a cordial, bespectacled ordained minister, had a gentle way of educating the viewer on how to prepare simple dishes made in his TV kitchen at WTTW studios in Chicago.  His mantra: “Frugal does not mean cheap. It means you use everything.” Watch this video on his recipe for preparing peas and egg soup to get an idea of what the Frug was all about.

Keith Floyd, Floyd on Food.

From the opposite end of the menu we have Floyd, a brash Englishman who cooked in kitchens in Briton and on the continent, as well as on the galley of a fishing boat.  Floyd’s mantra:  “Let’s let that cook while I take time for a little slurp,” a reference to his practice of cooking with a nice glass of red wine nearby.  Here, Floyd offers some thoughts on cooking meat.

Both men were entertaining, informative and captivating.  I learned how to cook and cultivated a liking for different kinds of food by watching their programs.  With many of today’s food-related shows, I only learn that chefs like to swear a lot.

This Thursday, those of us who are fortunate will join family and friends for Thanksgiving, a true American holiday, one dominated by food.  I’ll join family for what I’m sure will be a wonderful afternoon of conversation, wine, and of course — food.  I plan to make soup from the turkey carcass, as I have the past several years.

Rest assured: I’d rather have Jeff Smith or Keith Floyd in the kitchen next to me than any of the “celebrities” who call themselves chefs today.  Swearing is not an ingredient that adds much to the flavor of your dish.

Your turn: Wh0’s your favorite TV chef?

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What I Learned As a Social Media Panelist at An Association Workshop

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

Professional workshops and seminars are great opportunities to learn and advance — but only if you apply yourself and get something out of them.  The public relations profession, of course, continues to evolve and more than likely will do so for a long time.

That’s why I was thrilled and honored to be invited to serve on a panel last Thursday as part of a one-day program called “The Business of Association Publishing.”  It was hosted by the nice people at Association Media and Publishing, a Washington, D.C. area organization that serves the publishing needs of those of us who work in the association management business.

(In case you forgot or are a first-time visitor to The PRDude’s blog, I pay the mortgage, put food on the table and treat myself to good beer once in a while as Director of Marketing & Communications for a real estate association here in Chicago.  I know, enjoy and appreciate the value of associations.  And, I’m a proud member of one myself: The Public Relations Society of America. )

The topic for our panel was: “Social Media for Associations: How To Engage Your Members Using the Latest Technologies.”  “Social media!  I could talk about that,” I said to myself after I received the invitation.  “And, I actually could provide something of value.”

The PRDude After the Panel Discussion.

But what to focus on?  Well, how about blogging?  Along with this blog, I’m administrator and contributor to our organization’s blog, which launched this June.

My co-presenters were two outstanding professionals who deliver tremendous insight from within their respective organizations and areas of expertise.

  • Jean Lynch, Director of Communications and Marketing for the American Association of Medical Assistants, offered some keen insight into how the AAMA strategically incorporated Facebook into its marketing and communications programs with solid, measurable results.
  • And, Andy Steggles, COO and social strategist, Higher Logic (a mobile software company for associations and  nonprofits) delved into  how to leverage mobile (like apps and QR codes)  to drive engagement in traditional media and enhance programmatic offerings and benefits.

And, now the takeaways.  I learned a lot, of course, from my two colleagues and their presentations, and through questions from those in attendance.  But as a public relations and business communicator who works in association management, I came away with the following additional insight:

1.  One Size Does Not Fit All. Associations are local and regional, national and international.  They cover every imaginable industry and then some. The social media strategy for Association A will not — and should not — be translate to Association B.   Like the for-profit sector, associations should craft and incorporate a social media strategy that will help them reach realistic, measurable goals.

2.  Miles and Miles to Go.  This is a somewhat unsubstantiated observation, but I believe the majority of associations — perhaps a large majority of them — have yet to fully understand the value of social media and wrap both arms around it.   Why? Perhaps it’s time, dollars,  a reluctance from leadership or all of these and other factors.  Perhaps it’s the nature of the beast:  Some associations are driven by members who won’t embrace change, or social media for that matter.

Do you have thoughts to share on the use of social media as part of an overall association communications strategy?  Do you have a good case history to share?  Please let me know.