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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

What do Socrates and content marketing have in common?

Posted: November 17, 2011 - 9:30 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Years ago, I did some consulting work for a public relations agency assigned to launch a new prescription medication. The head of the team proposed a “Socratic dialogue” to the client.

I couldn’t help myself … I laughed and said (unfortunately out loud) that unless Socrates was coming, I thought we could call it a debate. I couldn’t think of a more pretentious description for a few medical researchers discussing the benefits and risks of a new drug. Did we have to exaggerate the importance of the discussion to sell it? We had real science and important findings to discuss.

I recognize the power of a well-defined concept, but public relations is straightforward … and to quote Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Yes, there’s strategy and creativity and lots of planning, but I believe our clients see value in what we do without jargon and fancy phrases to describe it.

So, I’m just going to come out and say it: I can’t get my head around the concept of “content marketing.” Content helps market your product or service; for example, your newsletter is the means to the end, not the end result … and if you’re a writer, you’re creating “news,” “information” or “entertainment” not simply “content”?

I’m not all that thrilled with “reputation management” either. …and I think “storytelling” diminishes what communications experts do.

That definition we learned way back in PR101, “building relationships between an organization and its publics,” says it just fine. All those other phrases are functions under the umbrella of PR.

I’d love to hear from some of you: How do you define PR? … and what do “content marketing” and some of our other industry’s terms mean to you?


Bracing for impact

Posted: November 3, 2011 - 8:10 AM ET - by Elisabeth

I’ve had the opportunity to attend several incredible events since my last blog post: TEDxMidwest and TEDMED. If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of the TED concept: riveting talks of no more than 18 minutes by world-class speakers … and they really are! Riveting and world-class, that is.


My head is still spinning from the impact. All I can really eek out of my brain while the details come into focus is “why?”

Here’s the secret (it’s really no big secret at all): because they get personal, and it’s daring to get personal! Each of the speakers, familiar to us from the pages of newspapers, research journals or even the big screen, dares to share something personal about his or her life. From Kevin Bacon, who initially thought “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was a joke at his expense; to Wes Craven, who endured a childhood bully named Freddy; to Paul Stamets, who introduced his mother, a breast cancer survivor thanks to her treatment with Taxol, Herceptin and his own Turkey Tail mushrooms; to Michael Graves, who brought his own experience in a wheelchair to more thoughtful design of hospital rooms and furniture; to Diana Nyad, who dared to ask they audience how they demonstrated grace in the face of defeat as she described her attempt to swim from Florida to Cuba. These personal details brought to life each speaker’s story in a way that was relevant and poignant for the audience. … and this wasn’t just any audience, they were innovators and dealmakers. The kind of men and women who take the inspiration and turn it into action. The kind of men and women who mean business.

It’s worth remembering that when you really want to have an impact on people – even in business – you need to get personal.

Please check out the embedded links to learn more about these amazing individuals and their personal stories.