Strive to Practice These Five Tactics: Labor Day 2013 Advice

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

On this Labor Day 2013, I’m taking a few minutes between important tasks, like planning what protein to grill tomorrow, to offer some advice. The following can be followed by my colleagues in the public relations arena and just about anyone who works in an office environment.

Labor DayThe objectives here:

  • Increase awareness by 100 percent at the conclusion of reading this post for the value of these tactics.
  • Achieve acceptance for the benefits of these tactics by 100 percent of those who are still with me.
  • To have 100 percent of readers incorporate these tactics when they return to their desks Tuesday.

Lofty.  True, but why not strive for a “Mt. Everest” level of success?  Here goes:

  1. Know When to Approach the Boss. He or she is a busy guy or gal.  (Well, they should be.)  So, it’s best to be judicious when seeking approval or direction on assignments.  If you sense the boss has a pressing task at hand, it’s probably best to hold off for a few hours or until the next day.  But if you smell smoke coming from the break room, don’t hesitate to yell, “Hey boss!”
  2. Follow Business Meeting Etiquette. One general rule, of course, it to show Business meetingup a few minutes early or at least on time for meetings. But also, be prepared to contribute.  Follow the lead of the person who called the meeting. Study the agenda in advance and have constructive and positive comments.  Take copious notes.
  3. Review Meeting Notes Immediately. To follow up on the previous item, review your meeting notes as soon as you return to your desk.  Even if you take notes on a tablet or laptop — or still prefer to scribble on a legal pad like me — it’s always advantageous to review your thoughts while they’re still fresh.  (If you’ve seen my penmanship, you’ll understand why I follow this practice religiously.)
  4. Learn How to Prioritize. Each day, I have perhaps a dozen or more tasks, meetings and assignments that I plan to initiate or complete.  What to take on first?  That’s always a judgment call, but one guideline I believe in is to get quick stuff — phone calls, email correspondence, minor research — done first. Then I tackle the more substantive work.
  5. Study the Corporate Culture.  Every office I’ve worked at, and that’s many over my career, has a culture that’s built upon the nature of the business, the office environment itself, and of course, the people who work there.  Each has been different, and each required that I adhere to a singular set of rules.  Learn your office culture and find your place in it;  you’ll be happier and more productive.

Over the course of publishing this blog, I’ve shared Labor Day advice for those seeking work and advice for public relations professionals entering the work force.   I hope my thoughts have been well-received and offered value.

To those in the work force, wishing you continued years of productivity; to those seeking employment, may you be delivered “from the service of self alone.”*

*Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

Two Messages, Both Disturbing, Neither Digital

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

Today, two messages — both compelling, both literally at my doorstep — prompted me to think about the number of new messages, stimuli or advertisements we receive each day.  First, some quick research:

There’s other statistics like this, I’m sure.  But rest assured, we are bombarded by messages, especially when we go on line and open a browser window.  For the record, The PRDUde does not take advertising dollars; but I might mention you in a future post if you buy me a good beer.

MarlboroOn to the focus of this post.  Today, I found a crumpled, empty pack of Marlboro Gold on the sidewalk in front of our home.  It contained a warning message that’s pretty straightforward, as you can see from the adjacent image.

Most educated people are aware of the dangers of smoking, but they continue to puff away.  Some discard their empty packs and spent butts with reckless abandon, ending up on someone’s lawn.  The warning message on this Marlboro package, in boldface type and right below the brand “logo,” is the result of federal laws that took effect last year.  The objective of this message is to decrease the number of smokers in the U.S.

Now look at the image to the right.  This graffiti, probably sprayed on by gangDSCN0567 punks or wannabe gang punks last night, now adorns a building right across from our home in the Avondale section of Chicago.

What does this nonsense mean?  I have no idea, however it’s a criminal act.

I trust it’s a “warning” message of some kind to alert rivals that our block is turf claimed by some affiliation of punks who believe they “own” or “control” the neighborhood.  For the record, we did have gang activity around our home years ago; it’s gone, thanks to more concerned neighbors and regular police patrols.  And, I called the City of Chicago to request the graffiti be removed.

Before drafting this post, I checked my email accounts, visited Facebook, watched a news program on TV and read parts of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  I received lots of messages.  But it was two very simple, non-digital messages — the cigarette pack warning and gang graffiti — that prompted me to act.

What messages grabbed your attention today?

Rotten Taste Already for “Cutthroat Kitchen” Food Show

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

Tonight, The Food Network, which has given the culinary curious some pretty good shows like Chopped and Iron Chef America,, will debut a new one: Cutthroat Kitchen.

Is this the kind of contestant that will appear on Cutthroat Kitchen?

Is this the kind of contestant that will appear on Cutthroat Kitchen?

Since chefs frequently wield sharp knives, I first thought this show would be something akin to The Ultimate Fighter kind of competition, only by tattooed people who can produce decent veal stock and can define the Maillard reaction.  After seeing TV promos and reading more, I stand corrected.

Hosted by Alton Brown, the program, according a web posting, is structured around “the element of a game — one that includes sabotage, scheming and backstabbing.”  (I trust the “backstabbing” part does not involve a 10-inch chef’s knife.)   There’s more:  each of the four contestants received $25,000, “money that can either be kept as a potential prize or used toward sabotage and the purchase of items/challenges.”

This concept has all the appeal of a rotten egg on burnt toast served with stale, cold coffee in a cracked cup.

Here’s why. The entire “food/foodie/celebrity chef” phenomenon has evolved — make the “devolved” — food programming into “competitions” designed to incite, appeal to the lowest common denominator and show a disregard for precious food and the skills, dedication and work required to prepare food for consumption.

Cutthroat Kitchen, which I don’t plan to watch even out of morbid curiosity, is just one of a seemingly increasing number programs that reflect poorly on the culinary arts and those who call themselves chefs.  I can learn something from a show like Chopped, like how to combine ingredients that don’t make sense into something that tastes good.

Wouldn't you rather watch and learn from this chef?

Wouldn’t you rather watch and learn from this chef?

What will I learn from Cutthroat Kitchen?  How to steal someone’s butter and ruin his or her souffle?

Too much attention is given to recent prime time food programming that goes beyond cooking and slides into headlong into unadulterated snark. True, there are still many “how to” food programs aired these days, but few in the evenings.   Read this 2011 post for my thoughts on two entertaining TV chefs who made an impression on me years before chefs held celebrity status.

Perhaps the minds at The Food Network and other networks will take the initiative to produce a program based on Take Part, a movement where eight great chefs work to end hunger in America.

In its essence, food is all about addressing hunger, is it not? And, it’s tremendous that many today take pleasure in cooking.  After all, Julia Child did not write “The Displeasure of Cooking.”