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Are you willing to discuss your customer base, your financials, your employees, your competitors, your products and services, and the day-to-day challenges of operating? (Ugur Uysal/Getty Images, iStockphoto)
Are you willing to discuss your customer base, your financials, your employees, your competitors, your products and services, and the day-to-day challenges of operating? (Ugur Uysal/Getty Images, iStockphoto)

Small Business Briefing

Is your company ready to talk to media? Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz.

Know what you’re getting into

A few weeks ago I reached out to the owner of a Canadian small business about the possibility of conducting an interview. I was searching for an interesting company in a particular region of the country, and I had come across a week-old press release after running a few common phrases through the Google machine.

We traded e-mails and had a phone conversation about what I was aiming to do. I waited for confirmation that the interview was on. The day after we spoke, I received an e-mail, informing me that the interview was being declined.

“Why,” I thought, “would a company post a press release if it wasn’t interested in talking to media?” I sent a reply pointing out that this was a curious strategy.

It reminded me of an earlier instance, when I was contacted by a public-relations firm offering to set up an interview with the owners of a new and unique small business. It had already been featured in some U.S. publications, but I had a particular concept in mind and I accepted the pitch.

I assigned one of my colleagues to the story and we were all set with a time and place for her to meet with them. The owner of the business cancelled at the last minute, no longer prepared to participate.

You can probably guess what I thought. I suggested to the PR person that in future it might be a good idea to make sure clients are ready to talk to media before making them available.

I posted a discussion on our Small Business LinkedIn group entitled ‘Are you ready for media coverage or not?’ I got a good rate of response with a variety of perspectives on the matter. It’s worth clicking through to read them. My point is simple: If you’re a business owner and you’re interested in putting yourself out there for comment on your company or any issues related to running a business, know what you’re getting in to.

Are you willing to discuss your customer base, your financials, your employees, your competitors, your products and services, and the day-to-day challenges of operating? Can you talk about your partners and investors? Is the impact on your family life on or off limits?

If you want to control the message, that’s your call, and the continued growth of the web and social media gives you plenty of platforms to do so. But if the idea of reaching a broader audience through a free-and-frank, warts-and-all discussion appeals to you, then by all means, reach out to media.

To add your voice to the discussion, please leave a comment or visit our LinkedIn group.

The business mood in Alberta

ATB Business Beat has published a report entitled ‘What’s on Alberta business owners’ minds?’ Two-thirds (67 per cent) of small and medium-sized businesses surveyed said they somewhat or strongly agree that finding experienced labour is a challenge. They cited a shortage of skilled labour, high salary expectations and strong competition as key contributors to the problem. Succession is another hurdles: 34 per cent of are planning to exit their businesses, but 52 per cent don’t have a succession plan in place. On the plus side, companies were optimistic about Alberta’s economy and their own businesses, with 89 per cent saying they believe they’ll be in the same position or better off in the next six months. ATB surveyed randomly selected small and medium-sized enterprises in Alberta in May, 2013.

Hair today, sold tomorrow

Here’s an odd but seemingly profitable business: celebrity hair. Louis Mushro tells CNN Money that over the past 20 years he’s sold 4,500 famous locks. His list of available hair samples includes Hollywood celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, sports stars including Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth, and former U.S. presidents George Washington and Richard Nixon. Mr. Mushro gets the bulk of his product from auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's, in addition to celebrities' homes and barbers. He keeps the hair locked in a safe.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Four businesses pitch to win

The Globe and Mail and Telus are co-hosting a Challenge Contest event in Toronto on June 27 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Small businesses from across Canada were given the chance to submit an explanation of what their companies do, what their biggest challenge is, and how they would use $100,000 to overcome it. A panel of judges boiled the entries down to four semi-finalists, each of which will have a chance to pitch their businesses to a panel. Click here to register.

Young Entrepreneurs Night in Vancouver

The Globe and Mail’s Report on Small Business is hosting a Young Entrepreneurs Night in Vancouver on July 17, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the HiVE. Join us for food, drinks and networking (hashtag: #youngtreps), with established small-business owners and startup founders. We’ll host a live photo blog on the Globe’s website that evening, and we’ll shoot video with attendees to post in the weeks following the event. There’s no charge but you need to register here to attend.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

The talented treps from London, Ont.

Check out a presentation featuring the profiles of 10 entrepreneurs and students, from London, Ont., including photo galleries and video. Double-tap on the profile pictures on your mobile device to zoom in.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

How to attract coverage

How does a startup or small business attract coverage when there are so many other companies – big and small – battling for the spotlight? Attracting coverage is as much art as science, along with a healthy dose of luck and being in the right place at the right time. That said, there are ways to encourage the spotlight to shine on your business, which Mark Evans outlined in May, 2012.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com.

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