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Pearls Before Breakfast – Content vs. Context

by | Oct 17, 2013

Gene Weingarten wins a Pulitzer Prize for his 4-8-07 article in The Washington Post titled “Pearls Before Breakfast.”*

Bruce Turkel, a branding expert, speaks to our National Speakers Association North TX Chapter about Weingarten’s shrewd experiment about content vs. context. Thank you – Bruce.

Weingarten gets Joshua Bell, internationally acclaimed virtuoso, to perform a stunning 43 minute program during a Friday morning rush hour in the L’Enfant Plaza subway in Washington DC using his 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius violin.

Three weeks prior Bell performs to a standing room crowd at the Library of Congress and he’s played often at Carnegie Hall.

Did anyone stop to listen to Bell in the subway? Did people pay a fortune to hear Bell at Carnegie Hall?

No to question #1. Yes to question #2.

What changed? Not Bell. He’s the same expert in both settings. In fact, the pieces he performs in the subway are some of the most difficult – specifically chosen for not needing an orchestra to accompany him.


Same content, vastly different context.

We expect the extraordinary at Carnegie Hall. We expect abysmal from the street performer.

Whatever your profession – become very clear about your context. It’s every bit as vital as your content.

In fact, I will go as far as to say it’s more important. Your audience expects you to be an expert. They wouldn’t hire you otherwise. They are driven to you by your context.

* http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html


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