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Grow: Mia Wedgbury

Don't slow down - make summer work Add to ...

Heard a great radio interview the other day. It was with the owner of a small but very popular ice cream shop in Toronto.

He wasn't on the show - one of the city's highest-rated - to talk about his store or the market for ice cream. In the midst of one of Toronto's worst heat waves in years, he was interviewed about how to beat the heat and to find joy in Summer. From a PR perspective, it was a great win. The shop owner knew people's thoughts turn to ice cream on hot days, so he tapped into the media's desire to find new angles on a big story to insert his voice.

From a PR perspective, Summer is an interesting time. It can be a quiet period. Many larger companies shy away from making a lot of noise, given that most of their customers and investors are in holiday mode. The news cycles slow down and media outlets tend to be more open to lighter stories.

If your business has a Summer angle - think tourism, leisure, fashion and outdoors - then it’s time to get to work. The next two months could be a great chance for your brand to shine through.

First, look at ways to share your advice or expertise on things that resonate with people who are in Summer mode. Maybe you can share tips on how to build a deck, how to keep restless kids occupied now that school’s out, or easy ideas for barbecue parties.

Next, think of what people are looking for in Summer - then get your brand involved. If you deal in food and beverages, seek ways to offer refreshments to people stuck outside. Or offer to sponsor an outdoor community event.

Location matters too. If your business is located in a popular destination location that attracts people from the city, take on the role of a local spokesperson. Offer yourself as an expert who can tell people what's new in the area this year, or why they need to use your product or service to make their visit even better.

Another angle is to offer yourself as a sort of barometer for the holiday season. The number of people visiting your store or using your service may be indicative of the local economy, or of changing trends and demographics. Keep track of those numbers and share with reporters, who are always looking for interesting facts.

For many small businesses, Summer is nothing more than a quiet before the next storm. But for others, Summer is everything. If your business comes alive over the next two months, it can pay to associate your brand with vacation season.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mia Wedgbury is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. With more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies, she is focused on fostering the overarching vision for the Canadian market. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients, some of the most innovative and well-respected companies in the country, to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies that drive measurable results. Ms. Wedgbury is known as an innovator, an advocate of career opportunities for women and a dedicated supporter of the technology industry.

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Follow on Twitter: @miapearson

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