Author Archives: Cathy Monetti

Cathy Monetti

A writer by trade, Cathy founded the firm that is now Riggs Partners in 1987 and has served as the firm’s lead creative strategist since that time. She is a voracious student of all things Next.

Simply Brilliant: theSkimm

With so much information flying around, it pays to communicate clearly and simply—whatever your forum. For my money, nobody does it better than theSkimm.

Founded by NBC staffers Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, theSkimm is a daily e-digest of the world’s most important news stories, offered in bite-size, easy-to-digest chunks. The subscription base is largely “busy women who want to keep up on current events and cocktail party conversation but who are short on time,” although I suspect a broad male readership exists.

Here is how theSkimm covered the situation in Ukraine today:

Sign up for theSkimm here. Or at a minimum, let theSkimm’s straightforward writing style inspire your next piece of communication.

Your customers will thank you.

Turning Oh No! to Oh Yes!

Caravan is an online store that brings its customers very swell digital artwork downloads at very reasonable prices. It’s the brainchild of Alma and Mike Loveland, and Melanie Burke, art director/designer types who get great joy from making (and sharing) beautiful things. And it shows.

They’re also very smart marketers. Take this morning’s email, for instance.



Caravan turned a tough couple of days into serious customer goodwill with this fabulous giveaway targeted to the very customers who experienced the frustration of technical issues. They no doubt recovered some purchases that were long gone, and they offered a wonderful promotion to subscribers who may not have even been aware of the server overload in the first place.

What a great lesson in recovery marketing. Bravo to them.

NOTE: Don’t you want this fun Draw Together Thanksgiving set for your family table? There is so much to love at Caravan!

11 Business Lessons of Our Time



I was cleaning out a bookshelf the other day when I cracked open the cover of a long-missing sketchbook, one I used for  note-taking when attending a lecture or professional gathering. The first page I saw got my attention with the first words written there:

A number of forces have turned things upside down.

Aahhh, I remembered. Early 2009, and the US Economy —and so many small businesses—were beginning to tip in crisis. Thousands of us gathered at Carolina Coliseum for a day-long lineup of motivational speakers, an event unrelated to the Recession, and yet inextricably bound to it. HP/Microsoft/Quantum’s Rick Belluzzo opened with this grand profession:

It is the most significant time of challenge in my lifetime.

In his energetic presentation, he went on to offer this counsel:

  1. Times of immense change create the greatest opportunity.
  2. Take advantage of disruption. Redefine.
  3. Think of yourself as an entity.
  4. Don’t be a victim. Things are difficult. Retool and reemerge.
  5. Always strive to make a difference. Make a permanent mark.
  6. Touch someone’s life. Believe today you can make a difference.
  7. Take on tough assignments. Risk is good.
  8. Be self aware and open to feedback.
  9. Be a leader. This requires authenticity and integrity.
  10. Take responsibility for your failures.
  11. Be soft-hearted in how you treat people. But be hard-headed about principles and results.

What powerful advice for an audience facing years of upheaval, I thought as I looked back at these notes four years later.

What powerful advice for life.

Deconstructing Your Brand

We were in a meeting with a potential new client recently when a rather interesting question came my way.

How do you go about creating a great brand? What makes your process different?

It took less than a millisecond for me to answer.

We fight for the truth, I said.

(Quizzical looks all around.)

And you’d be surprised how difficult it is to get there, I said.


We all have a tendency to cling to that which is familiar. Change is difficult—and scary. But if you hear yourself (or others in your company) saying any of the following, it’s a pretty good signal that something is hiding under there that needs to be addressed:

  1. “I know my business.”
  2. “It’s what our customers expect.”
  3. “It’s how we do it.”

Be brave. Deconstruct, and then shine a light in the dark corners to see what is there. By coming face to face with your realities, you can begin the exciting process of (re)freshing and (re)building a brand that is not only honest, but worthy of connection.

With love, from Pipa RN Brasil

I thought you would like this said the text from my sister-in-law, Rejane, who was spending the summer in her native Brazil.

(Don’t you love anything that arrives—whether via the mail, cell phone or a big package at your door—with that particular introduction?)

And so I scrolled.

What on earth? I wondered, looking at a photo of a bunch of *junk* attached to a gigantic board.

And then there was this.

Well, that explains everything.


Since I can’t read Portuguese, I was intrigued and most anxious to get the story from Rejane. She reports a group of locals became fed-up with people disrespecting their beach and took matters into their own hands. The signs read:

Do not throw trash on the beach. Preserve our paradise.

This trash was collected within less than a mile around this beach. Welcome to our beach!

(Yes, in the bottom right corner is a mass of disgusting cigarette butts.)

Then she sent this:

Pipa's gorgeous beach


Pretty daggone effective, that’s what I’m thinking, and a great reminder of the communications power of SHOW, DON’T TELL.