Posted by: Linda Obele | October 20, 2014

PR Primer: Three ways to tackle small talk

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

One might naturally assume that a person who works in a social field like public relations would be a born extrovert. Well, you know what they say about assuming…

Difficult though it may be to fathom, not all PR people are skilled at working a room. And, for some full-blown and borderline introverts, like me, opportunities to make small talk can be awkward – if not downright painful.

Me: “Wow. Great turnout tonight.”

Dining companion to my left: “Yep.”

Uneasy silence.

I want to keep the conversation going, but I can’t think of a thing to say. So, what’s an introverted PR pro to do when duty calls and it’s time to attend a networking event or client get-together? Try out these three tips for turning polite chit-chat into a more meaningful exchange.

Have a game plan: No need to script conversations before heading out the door to an event, but it never hurts to keep a couple flexible topics up your sleeve to get the ball rolling – or to keep it rolling if things start to lag. Start simple, with open-ended questions that deal with a topic you have in common at the moment, such as “How do you know the host?” or “How many times have you attended this event in the past?” The former offers a good opportunity for both of you to share how you know the host (and perhaps discover additional acquaintances in common). The latter can open the door to conversations about the best, worst or most entertaining events you’ve attended in the past – or those you’d like to attend in the future.

Other prep tips: scan the headlines to make sure you’re up on current news and entertainment events, just in case you need a filler topic, or ask an ice-breaker question, like, “What’s been the best part of your day?”

Be a good listener: One of the easiest ways to avoid small talk is to talk less. Instead of wracking your brain trying to find an interesting way to comment on the endless string of hot days we’ve been having, ask a few strategic, getting-to-know you questions designed to find common ground with the person with whom you’re conversing. Then, be genuinely interested in their responses. For introverts, this is a win-win situation. Most extroverts love talking about themselves, and most introverts would rather listen to someone else’s stories than to share their own.

Don’t fear the silence: Despite your best efforts, awkward silences may still creep in. Don’t fight them. Either change the subject or politely excuse yourself to refresh your drink. You’ll both be glad you did.

Posted by: Josh Skalniak | October 17, 2014

MDA Taste of the Town (it’s tonight!)

I love to eat. And besides breathing, it’s probably my favorite thing in the world to do. Anytime great food is served at an event or party, I am usually the first person to (stealthily) jump right in. At times, my love of food may be a little embarrassing, though, as I often lose concentration while I am enjoying a tasty morsel– I call it lack of concentration, others might call it blacking out. Either way, I am a foodie and I am not afraid to admit it.

For those of you who share my enthusiasm for all things tasty, this weekend couldn’t come soon enough. Tonight, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., one of the Valley’s most anticipated dining events returns to the Scottsdale Quarter for an evening of fine cuisine, wine, spirits, live music and a first-class silent auction. Yes, the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s 14th Annual Taste of the Town is back and tickets are still available. What?Taste of Town logo

That’s right. If I had you at “fine cuisine,” you can still purchase tickets to attend tonight’s event.

Restaurants such as Tanzy, Capital Grille, TK’s Urban Tavern, True Food Kitchen, Fogo De Chao, Brio Tuscan Grille, Lucille’s BBQ, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and more will be showcasing their most popular dishes. Not to mention, beverage companies like Barefoot Wine, Angels Envy Bourbon, Alliance Beverage and Hensley Beverage Company will be offering sips of their finest refreshments — Did I mention everything is included in the ticket price?

Wine Glasses 2013

2013 MDA Taste of the Town at Scottsdale Quarter

So, besides the whole “abundance of food” thing, there are a million reasons to come out tonight and take part in the festivities. Here are a few:

Sushi Brokers is flying in a Big Eye Blue Fin Tuna: Ok, I don’t know if you’ve actually seen a tuna up close — not in a can– but they are huge. Picture a heavy-set toddler with fins. Actually, don’t do that. Too late? Sorry… Anyway, this thing is gigantic. The Scottsdale restaurant, known for providing us desert dwellers with some of the freshest seafood on the planet, will be carving the giant tuna all evening long and you won’t want to miss it.

Relive the 90’s: You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What could the 90’s possibly have to do with Taste of the Town?” Well, the event’s featured band Elvis Before Noon just so happens to be a Valley favorite for fans of the 90’s Tempe sound. What does that mean? Think Gin Blossoms, The Refreshments and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers; think socks with sandals, jellies and overalls with one strap down; think Blossom — “Whoa!” Ok, maybe I am taking the whole 90’s thing too far, because EBN (shortening their name was totally 90’s, dude) also plays a ton of other stuff, from Johnny Cash classics to whimsical Weezer cuts, Motown, rockabilly, The Beatles and even an Elvis song or two.

MDA needs your support: Proceeds from the event go directly to more than 2,400 Arizona families affected by neuromuscular disease. Just by buying a ticket you can help change someone’s life — no matter how much food you eat tonight. So come on down and support the MDA. Help them find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.

Tickets are priced at $100. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

overview 2013

2013 MDA Taste of the Town

Posted by: Alison Frost | October 17, 2014

Catch some Halloween Spirit in Theaters, and Out

Ghost, goblins, jack-o-lanterns, costumes … the list could go on and on. October is Halloween month and who doesn’t like a good scare? From movies to haunted houses, here are a few things that may help you get into the spooky spirit.Drac

First up and scaring into theatres now is DRACULA UNTOLD.  This is the origin story of how Dracula came to be.  Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, The Hobbit series) transforms from the cursed man history knows as Vlad the Impaler to Dracula.  It’s been speculated that Universal Pictures is starting a monster series and this could be the first of many awesome stories dealing in that world.OUJ_31_5_Promo_4C_4F.indd

Also, looking to scare moviegoers beginning October 24 is OUIJA the supernatural thriller about a group of friends confronting their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board.

Want to talk about confronting fears? If so, consider checking out Chambers of Fear!  This local valley haunted house features three different terrifying experiences allCOF-Logo under one roof.  Open through November 1, the spine chilling haunt has been recognized nationally and featured on the Travel Channel’s Making Monsters show.

If you’re too scared to partake in one of these, there’s always something pumpkin flavored that may help get you feeling ready for those trick-or-treaters!


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