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Just how lucky am I?

Posted: November 24, 2010 - 6:27 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I try to consider the things I’m grateful for everyday, but I can be … well, forgetful. I have even tried keeping a gratitude journal. Some days, even weeks and months, I’ve been pretty good, but I have been known to complain. It’s a shock to those of you who know me, I’m sure.

I try to stop myself … to replace “woe is me” with “lucky me” in my head, but sometimes that’s hard.

My brother died four years ago. Sometimes I “forget” that I am the luckiest sister in the world, an incredibly fortunate business owner and a better person for having had him in my life. Sometimes I’m just sad.

Steve was my business partner, my cheerleader, my compassionate critic, and my best friend. Maybe that sounds strange? Lots of brothers and sisters fight, but we really didn’t. Ever. Maybe it was four years difference in our ages? Maybe it was that Steve was a childhood cancer survivor and had vision and empathy that seem rare today.

We were also incredibly well-matched as business partners. I loved PR – the strategy, the creativity, the intersection of ideas and people. I always thought there must be better way to meet clients’ needs without sacrificing excitement and creativity in the people who provided the solutions … without making it feel so much like a job.  Steve had a great legal and financial mind. He knew just what to do to turn my passion into a business – and an international business at that.

… and he liked to cook!

Sometimes he would just show up at my door with a culinary experiment and the most cheerful Golden Retriever you’ve ever met. We’d entertain ourselves for an entire evening plotting the future of the agency like a chess game. We tried to anticipate clients’ needs and challenges, analyze team members’ passions and strengths, and plan the future.

I miss his vision and the sounding board that he always was, and I have to admit to having spent a few evenings feeling sorry for myself.

… but then the phone rings – a team member is on the other end, often back at the computer after making dinner, helping with homework, and putting the kids to bed – and I am reminded that I am surrounded by a team of people who truly care about each client, each other, and the success of our team. In truth, there is always someone there to help solve a problem, analyze a new approach, or pose an interesting question.

I’d like to think that Steve instilled a little of that in each of us, but I know that these are some of the best and brightest professionals I have ever had the privilege to work with. They brought their own dedication and perspective to the team and helped envision and build Ritz Communications.

To my team – my extended family – thank you for your enthusiasm and vision and for the daily reminder of just how lucky I am.


A hot topic: The best way to reach your audience

Posted: November 12, 2010 - 8:58 AM ET - by Elisabeth

Contrary to popular belief, I am a fan of technology. I am fascinated and delighted by the technological advances that allow us to communicate quickly and effectively as a virtual agency. I’m like the queen of three-way calling around here!

Seriously, smart phones, Google apps and Skype are just a few of the tools that help us to interact with each other and our clients efficiently.  In many cases, we have even been able to expand our services or avert crises.

Yet (couldn’t you just feel that coming?), there is truth to Marshall McLuhan’s expression “the medium is the message.” Some advancements can create a barrier to your audiences’ receptivity to your message. Let’s take me – and texting – as an example.  I wish I could declare my beloved iPhone a “No Text Zone.” Not just in the car. Everywhere!

If it’s such a burning issue that you need my attention RIGHT NOW and you are interrupting me with an urgent tone being emitted from my phone, then why isn’t it ringing? If you know me well enough to text me, you probably know how annoyed I am by the abbreviations and grammatical shortcuts that are inherent to texting. You also know that I am not hip enough to know whether your are Laugh(ing) Out Loud or wishing me Lots of Luck and that I am old enough to think BFF is a typo. If it’s not urgent, send me an email. If you’re 1) a client, 2) somebody I like, or 3) you give it a catchy title, I may even skip over the 50 or 60 emails ahead of you and open it first. … and if you have called and/or sent an email, enough already!

I recently signed up to follow a particular marketing guru on Twitter and was surprised to receive four – 4! – text messages promoting books, lectures, etc. Now I’m no guru, but I know it’s not a smart strategy to run up my phone bill for text messages and expect me to spend more money on your product or service. I selected Twitter as my preferred format to receive the information.

If you ask me, I will happily tell you how I want to receive information from you. … and here’s the most important part of this post: So will all the rest of your stakeholders. Let each stakeholder tell you whether he or she prefers phone, email, text message, Twitter or another channel. Don’t annoy them before you even capture their interest.

For me, if it is really important, pick up a phone. … or you could set yourself on fire and run through my office. If it’s urgent, I’m going to need to feel the heat.