I Think You Need to Hire a PR Firm
This week, the 21 Hats Podcast welcomes a new regular and discusses what businesses should understand about public relations—including what it costs.
Here are today’s highlights:
Prices will be falling soon—at least for certain items at certain big retailers.
A survey of hourly workers this spring found that two-thirds of them went to work sick with Covid or another illness.
A big mall offers small businesses a shot.
Was profitability always a pipe dream for Uber?
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
I Think You Need to Hire a PR Firm: This week, we welcome a new regular to the 21 Hats Podcast crew: Sarah Segal, founder and CEO of Segal Communications, a public relations firm based in San Francisco. First, Sarah tells Jay Goltz and Liz Picarazzi how she built her firm. Then, Jay and Liz ask Sarah all of their questions about public relations: What can they do themselves? Should they hire a PR specialist or a full-service agency? Should they approach journalists directly or through a publicist? And most important, how much should it all cost? Plus: Why Sarah’s still figuring out how to attract new business.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Prices will be falling soon—at least at big retailers that suddenly have too much stuff: “Target, Walmart and Macy’s announced recently that they are starting to receive large shipments of outdoor furniture, loungewear and electronics everyone wanted, but couldn’t find, during the pandemic. The problem for retailers—that these goods are delayed by almost two years—could be a windfall for those in the market for sweatpants or couches. Look for prices to start dropping around July 4, analysts say. ‘There are going to be discounts like you’ve never seen before,’ says Mickey Chadha, a Moody’s Investors Service analyst who tracks the retail industry.”
“Consumer electronics are another category ripe for overstock discounts, Mr. Wallace-Brewster says, because the chip shortage is showing signs of abating. Items such as TVs and laptops are likely to be on sale.” READ MORE
A big mall offers small businesses a shot: “Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. is one of the top-performing malls in America, and it typically has a waiting list of marquee retail and entertainment tenants vying for the right space at the mall to become available. But now, the mall is realizing its future lies not just in getting the right big name, national tenants, but also in opening its doors to the right local business owners. The mall has partnered with one of the state’s Small Business Development Centers to make it easier for small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned companies, to become mall tenants, without the initial investment or long-term commitments typically involved in opening a store at a mega-mall.”
“One of the first business owners to open at the mall through the program, Erika Oldham, owner of Chic Sugars, a bakery that sells custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, cake jars, and other desserts, said she was amazed at how quick and easy it was for her to open at the mall.”
“Oldham has been operating her business for more than a decade, and also has a store in downtown Englewood, N.J.”
“She had approached the mall about opening a dessert vending machine, and Neidhardt showed her a move-in ready kiosk in a prime mall location that had been vacated by a previous food tenant.” READ MORE
Now there’s a shortage of tampons: “Some of the inventory issues stem from the rising cost of cotton, rayon, and plastic, according to Nirav Patel, president and chief executive of Bristlecone, a supply chain logistics company. Demand for such raw materials had been squeezed in recent years by the rush to produce medical essentials in the pandemic, Patel noted, and now supply challenges are heaping problems on producers. The cost of transportation for consumer goods, for example, has nearly tripled, he noted, whether it’s the fee for bringing a shipping container overseas or for last-mile delivery. China’s zero-tolerance covid policies have contributed to port congestion and shipping delays for many major retailers, as have widespread labor shortages.”
“Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tampax, said it is working with retail partners to maximize availability of feminine-care products, ‘which has significantly increased over the last several months.’”
“‘We understand it is frustrating for consumers when they can’t find what they need,’ Procter & Gamble told The Post. ‘We can assure you this is a temporary situation.’” READ MORE
A general store in Paris sells goods that are intended to last: “After 15 years working at high-end brands, Caroline Morrison left an international sales management role to introduce a more eco-conscious option to consumers. In December 2020, the French-American entrepreneur opened Landline, a general store in Paris’s 11th arrondissement featuring built-to-last housewares, toys, clothing, and cleaning supplies, all ethically produced and largely made of natural materials. Her selection includes De Buyer pans (guaranteed for life and made in France since 1830); wool blankets and scarves by Brun de Vian Tiran, an eighth-generation family company in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue since 1808; and artisanal wooden clogs by Bosabo, handmade to order since 1890.”
“Morrison, 39, is succeeding despite the contrarian bent of her business model: selling goods that don’t need replacing, from a physical store as shoppers move increasingly online.”
“‘Community is a big part of our early success. E-commerce is quick, easy, and efficient, but as we spend more and more of our days online, real moments become more special.’” READ MORE
Did Covid and remote work kill the sick day? “Working while sick is an American pastime — one that a vicious pandemic, which sickened millions, somehow didn’t disrupt. Over 100 other countries guarantee some form of paid sick leave. In the United States, a survey of 3,600 hourly workers this spring found that two-thirds of those who had been sick with Covid or other illnesses went to work while sick, according to the Shift Project at Harvard, a research project on work scheduling. Many of them cited fear of getting in trouble with their managers, or financial pressures.”
“‘I’m trying to work out in my head why I had that thought of, ‘Oh, I’ll work through it,’ said William Fitzgerald, 36, who runs a strategy firm. He got Covid in late April and took meetings throughout his illness. ‘Why didn’t I just rest for the week?’”
“Mr. Fitzgerald, who is still fatigued from his bout of Covid, designed generous time off policies for his own staff: unlimited sick days, a minimum of 25 vacation days. But when he came down with chills in late April, and tested positive for coronavirus, he couldn’t bring himself to take advantage of that paid time off.”
“‘I’m talking about this in hindsight, what I’ve learned, but I’m still at work this week trying to move through it,’ said Mr. Fitzgerald, who said he does not feel that he has fully recovered. A day later, he called back with an update: He’d decided to take one day off.” READ MORE
In Mexico, the government is targeting private companies: “Going after private companies might seem like something from the playbook of Socialist Venezuela rather than Mexico, which in recent decades has transformed itself into one of the world’s most globalized nations, signing free-trade deals with more than 40 countries and using manufacturing exports to become the U.S.’s second largest trading partner. Along the way, it lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty. But Mexico’s populist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in 2018, is shifting the country to a 1970s industrial policy focused on the domestic market, natural resources such as oil and greater state intervention, from backing state-run energy giants to using the army for major public-works projects.”
“The moves will cost Mexico billions of dollars in forgone investment; raise domestic energy prices; limit the growth of oil and electricity output; and damage the competitiveness of Mexican companies and hundreds of multinationals that operate here, according to the U.S. government, private companies, and economists.”
“‘It’s a closing off of Mexico,’ says Gabriela Siller, an economist at Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey.” READ MORE
A food-delivery business just raised another $350 million: “Wonder aims to build a network of truck-based restaurants that can cook hot curbside meals drawn from chef-driven menus. That model also allows Wonder to deliver food to homes, which would benefit customers and profit, said Mr. Lore. The service is available in a cluster of New Jersey suburbs, covering 132,000 households, that are located west of New York City. Wonder aims to expand to a second part of New Jersey later this year, then eventually to regions across the U.S. by 2035. The company declined to provide financial figures.”
“New York-based Wonder closed a $350 million funding round last month, according to company officials, bringing the total amount raised in debt and equity to $900 million.
“The latest funding values the company at roughly $3.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.”
“In the areas where the company has operated the longest, about 25 percent of Wonder’s revenue comes from Envoy, a crowd-sourced food-delivery service where people can order food from local restaurants inside the Wonder app.”
“‘We want to be a super app for food,’ Mr. Lore said.” READ MORE
Was profitability always a pipe dream for Uber? “Yesterday, a memo from current Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi read like a page from a Super Pumped script — right down to an all-caps ‘GO GET IT!’ The horseshit has caught up with the company, which has yet to turn a profit despite grand promises. ‘It’s clear that the market is experiencing a seismic shift and we need to react accordingly,’ the memo reads. ‘We will absolutely have to do more with less.’ But amid the warnings of corporate austerity and hints of a pivot to food deliveries and freight, there’s an admission of a deeper failure: the tacit understanding that moving passengers around crowded cities using cars was never going to work. Something which, after over a decade of scheming, cheating, and extorting its way onto our smartphones and into our streets, Uber may finally have to admit.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Dashboard: Inflation, Recession, the Metaverse. Oh, My! This week, Gene Marks talks about whether it’s time to panic about inflation and recession, how smaller businesses are managing their inventories through these unpredictable times, why businesses that take digital payments through a service like Venmo are going to have to be more careful, and what, if anything, the metaverse is likely to mean for the typical small business.
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If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren