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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

“A great man is one sentence.”

Posted: February 17, 2011 - 5:30 PM ET - by Elisabeth

This has always been one of my favorite expressions. It’s attributed to Clare Booth Luce who said it to President John Kennedy.

According to Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, “She told him … ‘a great man is one sentence.’ His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don’t have to hear his name to know who’s being talked about. ’He preserved the union and freed the slaves,’ or, ‘He lifted us out of a great depression and helped to win a World War.’ You didn’t have to be told ‘Lincoln’ or ‘FDR.’ ”

It’s been the topic of news articles, magazine contests and writers challenges, and it’s been popularized again in recent years by Smith Magazine. This online community of storytellers has sparked 6-word discussions across a variety of topics and media, from consultant and author John Baldoni asking the question to leaders in the Harvard Business Review in 2009 to Tara Parker Pope posing the question about love and heartbreak in The New York Times earlier this week for Valentine’s Day.

Part of my fascination is in learning what friends and colleagues believe is their lesson or their legacy. … So I’m posing the question to my readers. In fact, I’m going to offer a prize for the most compelling response. Yes, I know that’s totally subjective. The prize will be too, based on the winner’s sentence. It’s open to my colleagues, my friends, my doorman, my parents (c’mon, I’m counting on you to reply), pretty much anyone who’s willing to share six words about themselves or someone they admire.

To start the ball rolling, I’ll share mine. Now, admittedly, I’m a little less serious than Abe or FDR. … I’m “entrepreneurial mission driven by blonde ambition.”

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Does size matter?

Posted: February 4, 2011 - 2:41 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I’m following a recommendation from communications experts to draw you in with a provocative title. Read on … I promise there’s good advice – and an answer – waiting.

Sometimes when we ask a client how he or she would define the success of a communications initiative, we hear “coverage on the front page of The Wall Street Journal …

or on Oprah …

or 5,000 facebook fans …

or 1,000,000 Twitter followers …”


Yet, often, that’s not really where their audience is. National outlets, prominent media personalities and big audience numbers aren’t always the best use of time, money or your communications team.

The power of technology and a rapidly growing number of online outlets give businesses nearly unlimited opportunities to connect with people most interested in hearing from and interacting with them. … and as entrepreneurial guru Barry Moltz says, “We actually can’t sell anything to anyone; we just need to be there when people are ready to buy.”

One of the most important steps in planning marketing communications to support your product, service or entity is to define your audience:

  • Is there a demographic that has the greatest need to apply your invention to their situation – for example, work-from-home dads as opposed to all employed men?
  • Is there a group that has an immediate demand for the goods or services you can provide – nursing mothers as opposed to all women with children?
  • Is there actually a smaller group of specialists who are likely to be the biggest adopters of your product or information – oncology nurses as opposed to all registered nurses?
  • Is there a special interest group that may embrace your offering – Mac users rather than anyone with a computer?

The next critical step is to figure out how to reach them efficiently and compellingly:

  • Entrepreneurs may in fact be readers of The Wall Street Journal, but they may also subscribe to Crain’s business publications in their cities or to industry newsletters or blogs for relevant information.
  • Nursing mothers may watch Oprah, but they also receive and review follow-up correspondence from their ob/gyns and hospitals or birthing centers to get information from experts they trust.
  • Oncology nurses may in fact be facebook users, but perhaps they look to professional web sites and other online outlets for continuing medical education, career advancement and practice knowledge.
  • … and Mac users … well, okay, they seem to be a pretty pervasive group.

Trade publications, newsletters, and blogs don’t always have big circulation numbers, but they may reach exactly who’s buying what you’re selling. Not everyone needs facebook fans or a Twitter following; it may feel exciting and current, but it’s not always the right context.

With all the information the internet provides on what people are reading, doing, buying and recommending, you can tailor your communications to reach them efficiently and speak to them compellingly. With a targeted approach you can do that in a place where, and at a time when, they are acutely aware of their need.

So yes, size does matter. … but it’s the size of your impact, not your audience.

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