Entrepreneurs ignore the news at their peril

newspaper-943004_1920When I lead a media training workshop for entrepreneurs, I like to ask them what media they follow.

You see the underlying assumption: everybody follows some sort of news, and everybody has a good solid (balanced) notion of what is going on in their corner of the world, county, country, and internationally.

Beyond the mega war-and-peace dramas, we are all watching with care what’s happening to the environment, medicine, politics, and of course – economics.

Of course we are.

Except, it seems, that we’re not.

During the last two seminars, this happened:

“So,” I looked around at 20 faces, many of whom were gazing up expectantly for my power point slides, pens poised.

“What media or news are each of you following?”

Seconds passed.

Silence.

“Anybody?”

Two hands crept tentatively skyward.

“I listen to the CBC,” ventured one.

“Does Facebook count?” asked another.

Even with my flimsy grasp of algorithms and how our Facebook news is chosen for us – based on past “likes”, I knew this meant that one of them – the one admitting to relying on Facebook – was shortchanged on balanced coverage.  They were deprived of a wide and varied compendium of rich information that they could mine for their own business success.

Not to mention general responsible world citizenship.

They must have sensed my dismay. Minutes passed, and a few more admitted to Facebook as their primary news source.

I nearly folded my tent and crept away right there and then. This was a Media Workshop designed to teach entrepreneurs how to recognize:

  1.  When they had a story worth telling beyond their mother, the balcony or the back fence, and…
  2.  How to identify and work with different media to get themselves some good exposure.

Needless to say I delivered the seminar, including the PowerPoint hand-outs, and left.

Fulminating.9215937

“How on earth can you expect to get exposure, investors, followers, and so on, if you aren’t even paying attention to the news?” I’d longed to shout. (But of course I hadn’t. I’m doing it here, instead.)

How do you know if what you are doing is truly unique? What the trends are? If the world needs what you have to offer? And, expect to prepare a media release that gets traction in the news when you don’t know what news is because you aren’t following it.

I wracked my brain for some local entrepreneurs whom I confidently predicted do follow the news media, and can link the importance of doing this directly to the success of their businesses.

I got such great responses from three of them that I am dividing this blog into three segments.

This week:  Dick Crawford, entrepreneur and owner of two businesses – an established construction consulting design firm and co-developer of a new pain-free injection microneedle www.pkasottouch.com.

Crawford says that to be an effective entrepreneur, he needs to follow the news.

“Every day I watch the news on television and also consult the local newspaper to find trends in both fields – medical technology and construction design,” says Crawford.

Medical breakthroughs always make their way to the larger dailies, where many first learn of them. Crawford says that’s where he finds good information for potential uses for the microneedle.

Saturdays, he notes, he reads the well-respected Canadian daily newspaper, The Toronto Star, https://www.thestar.com/news.html with its feature-rich weekend section.

“The Star has lots of interesting information on new products and Canadian medical discoveries,” Crawford says.

Crawford also scours Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail www.theglobeandmail.com/news.  “I read general news and business. Somebody could be making a discovery someplace.”

“For example, there’s been a discovery of a new vaccine out of Laval University to immunize people against the Zika virus,” says Crawford.

The vaccine got the green light for Phase One clinical trials last July.

The virus made headlines last year because of associated birth defects, and scared many athletes away from the Brazil Olympics.

According to an article in the Harvard Public Health Review, clinical studies suggest that Zika infection can cause not just pediatric microcephaly and brain damage, but also adult conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.   http://harvardpublichealthreview.org/off-the-podium-why-rios-2016-olympic-games-must-not-proceed.

And new vaccines matter to Crawford because PKA Softtouch looks for pharmaceutical suppliers who are searching for simple pain-free disposable injection methods. That’s a possible market (among many) for the company’s patented microneedle.

Tipped off by the news, Crawford now closely watches the progress of the vaccine.

How?

By following the news.


Next week you will meet an entrepreneur whose news-driven awareness of special needs children and a renewed emphasis on safety for school-age children in North America helped to shape his online business.


 

 

 

 

 

About Jane Carthew Davidson

As a former senior public relations specialist with a large publicly traded multi-national chemical company, Jane Carthew Davidson produced the company’s award winning annual report for several years. Later, she was media relations specialist for Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), where she wrote speeches for the executive team, trained spokespersons across the province, and developed talking points and strategies designed to clarify the role played by property assessment within the municipal taxation system. Jane is a former business reporter for the Globe and Mail Report on Business, and the Toronto Star’s Business Today. Her articles have appeared in the Toronto Star, the Medical Post, the Anglican Journal, the Financial Post and most recently, the Globe and Mail’s special supplements on subjects as wide ranging as organic farming and new investment regulations. On several occasions, Jane’s media savvy and quick research skills enabled her to win broad media attention and investment queries from Canada, the Unites States and Europe, for a unique medical device start-up venture. Following Peterborough’s Flood of the Century in 2004, Jane handled media relations for the City of Peterborough, developing and implementing the communications plan for the city’s media outreach to afflicted citizens, concerned insurance companies, city staff and other government stakeholders.
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