How to Re-Engage With Your Work

August 27th, 2014
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Engage Work productivity press clipping media monitoring public relationsWe took a few opportunities this summer to remind you about the importance of unplugging and taking a break or vacation. It’s summer – that’s what it’s for. But the quickly dwindling days of August mean that summer is just about over, and that means it’s time to re-engage with your work.

Why re-engage?

It’s sure tempting to stay in summer mode all year long, but let’s face reality: you’re going to be at your job for a number of hours each day. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their work, and only 36 percent of white collar workers in a survey said their work had a level of meaning and significance.

Engaging in your job not only helps you excel professionally, but can also make your personal life richer. A healthy work-life balance makes people more satisfied in their jobs and encourages professional motivation and productivity.

And even if you feel you’re not in the best place in your career, approaching projects with a more ambitious positive attitude can help you build your portfolio and ignite passions for your current work..

Take breaks

To re-engage, you need to be more focused. To be more focused, you need to take breaks. That may sound counter-intuitive, but those who take a break every 90 minutes report levels of focus 30 percent higher than those who don’t take breaks, and also report a greater capability to think creatively.

Shorten meetings

If you’re in the position to change the length and structure of meetings, you should (and if you’re not in that position, consider making a few thoughtful recommendations to your manager). Most meetings are a waste of time. Good meetings need a specific purpose and a hard time limit. I used to work at an office where planning meetings were limited to 30 minutes; while they could have easily gone on for 45 or 60, awareness of the limit meant we often finished in 25. That meant everyone knew meetings would be quick, and we wouldn’t walk into the room dreading a giant time suck.

Fred Kofman suggests holding meetings only “to decide and commit” to something. No meetings for reviews, updates, evaluations, or reports. Those things can be done in ways other than meetings. While it may seem strange to go from lots of meetings to only the occasional meeting, doing so frees up a lot of time for you and colleagues to think creatively and get things done.

Recognize your talents and utilize them

Feeling underused makes it easy to disengage from work, but if your strong points aren’t part of your work, it’s up to you to make them part of your work. First thing is to identify your strong points, and that doesn’t necessarily mean your task-driven talents; strong points can be how you think or solve problems. Then, identify a challenge you’ve had in your life or observed in others that you want to help others solve. Putting your strong points and challenges together can help you find more fulfillment in all your work.

If this means taking the reins and reworking your job description, do it, but start small. You can’t change everything overnight. Start with taking on extra projects that speak to your sensibilities, then grow them and find more opportunities to help your colleagues, your manager, and your company grow.

Be willing to break your non-engaged habit

Think of your non-engagement as a bad habit that needs breaking. While you might have to continue working on projects that don’t challenge you, find a way to make them better and more rewarding leveraging your strengths. Taking that approach will raise your profile and the awareness of your profile and other teams to want to use you in a more diverse way.

Remember that being engaged at work is a habit and a skill. And once you get engaged with your work, don’t forget to take a vacation or digital holiday. It can only help you be more engaged.

How do you get engaged with your work?

 

Your Media Interview Worksheet

August 25th, 2014
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Media Interview Worksheet Media Relations Interview tips Public Relations PR software BurrellesLuce Press ClippingsIf you’re a media relations pro giving media interviews or the public relations pro arranging such interviews and prepping clients, you know that preparation is a huge factor in making a media interview a successful one.

There are a slew of factors to consider in the preparation process, including defining aligned key messages and prepping for easy and hard questions, as well as staying on top of headlines, being confident, looking polished, and being adept at bridging so you can maintain your composure and control of the interview.

We cover all this territory and more in our most recent newsletter, Media Interviews: The Before, During, and After, but we know that what media relations pros need is an easy-to-use resource that reflects the basic media preparation needs. If there are ways these can be enhanced and you want to share with your colleagues, please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. We’re open to creating different versions of this worksheets for different mediums and making them available in our resource center.

You can download the worksheet from our resource center.

Five Grammar Mistakes to Stop Making Now

August 21st, 2014
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Five Grammar Mistakes BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Common Grammar Mistakes Media Relations Public Relations Media Monitoring

flickr user Nic McPhee, CC BY license

I may have mentioned that my nickname around here (and on Twitter) is “red pen.” There’s a reason for that – I like grammar and editing. In the interest of helping out public relations professionals in their constant quest to improve their writing skills, today I bring to you five grammar mistakes I see and hear very commonly.

As a pro, you’ve probably got a lot of the basics nailed, but with something as broad as language, there’s always more to learn, even for red penners like me. Whether you’re crafting marketing materials, updating your personal Twitter feed, or posting to company social media, here are the mistakes to stop making as of now.

Wary/weary

I can’t tell you how often I see and hear this one. “Wary” means to be watchful or cautious; “weary” is to be tired or exhausted. So don’t say that we should approach a problem or danger wearily – approach it warily. And don’t grow wary of a bad attitude, grow weary of it.

Allude/elude

Just because they’re practically homophones doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. “He eluded to the possibilities” makes no sense because “elude” means to evade or avoid. When someone one alludes to something, they’re making an indirect reference to that something. So, “He alluded to current events” means he indirectly referred to a current event, but “He eluded speaking about current events” means he avoided and did not talk about current events.

Eek/eke

This one particularly kills me, especially as a crossword fanatic (“eke” is a common answer to clues). “To eke” means to scrape by or manage with difficulty. “Eek” isn’t even a verb; it’s a sound you might make when you see a mouse or errant insect. So while one can “eke out a living,” one cannot “eek out a living.”

Punctuation and quotation marks

Periods, commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes should always go inside quotation marks. End of story (unless you are in Great Britain). Exclamation marks and question marks are a bit more nuanced. Here’s what Grammar Girl has to say:

“If the whole sentence, including the quotation, is a question or an exclamation, then the question mark or exclamation point goes outside the closing quotation mark; but if only the part inside the quotation marks is a question or exclamation, then the question mark or exclamation point goes inside the closing quotation mark.”

Here are some clarifying examples:

Did she say whether she had read “A Modest Proposal”?

I love the song “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”

Would of/would have/had

This is a gnarly little trifecta of errors in the conditional perfect, the “I wish I would of taken school seriously” train of thought.

The first problem is that it’s never “would of.” This common error probably came about because it sounds similar to “would’ve,” the contraction for “would have,” which is the correct form of the conditional perfect.

But in these instances, the conditional perfect is not the correct tense. “I wish I would have taken the train this morning,” is incorrect; the past perfect is correct. One should say, “I wish I had taken the train this morning.” Let’s look at some more examples:

Incorrect: I wish I would have known that movie had a sad ending.

Correct: I wish I had known that movie had a sad ending.

It’s correct to use the conditional perfect (“would have”) in “then” clauses, not in “if” clauses:

Incorrect: If I would have been famous, we could have been rich.

Correct: If I had been famous, we could have been rich.

What are the most common grammar mistakes you make or see others making?

Thanx Hanx: Why Old-School Isn’t Going Anywhere

August 20th, 2014
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Hanx Writer Old School Technology BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Public Relations PR SoftwareThis week in odd pairings, Tom Hanks launched an app. Slickly doing away with that stuffy “ks,” the app is called Hanx Writer, and it’s an iPad app that looks and sounds like a typewriter. If you ever felt like all the swiping and tapping you did on your iPad was just too silent, Hanx Writer rights that wrong and kits you out with all the clacks, dings, and whizzes your 21st Century heart could desire.

It’s been number one in the iTunes App Store since its launch last week, so it’s clearly striking a chord with modern-day typists. Perhaps it’s not surprising, since repackaging of the old in the guise of the new isn’t exactly a groundbreaking sales or marketing tactic. But what makes the app so interesting, besides appealing to sensory satisfaction, is that so many people seem excited to reconnect with an old, some might say more traditional, time and technology.

Hanx Writer is yet another reminder that old-school technology doesn’t really disappear. Five years ago everyone thought books would die and be replaced by ebooks. Spoiler alert: They didn’t. Radio is still around as is its supposed replacement, television; hipsters love shooting on film; and though the news just loves to talk about the demise of print, it’s probably safe to say newspapers and magazines won’t become extinct. So instead of worrying that old technologies will be replaced, let’s just remember new technologies, like new movie stars, just elbow their way in.

The “old” is still there, and often, it’s just as useful and influential as before.

And of course, now there are apps for radio, TV, photos, and print publications. For anyone worried about Millennials who don’t experience the joy of writing on parchment with a quill and inkwell, I’m sure Tom Hanks will get right on that with his next app.