News Archive - June 2015 View All

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You’ve only got 60 seconds to make your pitch

June 30, 2015
If you’re making a 10-minute presentation and worry that’s not enough time to get your ideas across, forget about it. Presentation coach Sam Horn says you actually only have 60 seconds to intrigue the decision maker and gain attention for your ideas. So don’t cram everything into a tedious 10-minute, breathlessly delivered talk. Follow her approach to cut the ideas to a 60-second pitch. You might also want to acknowledge the person you’re pitching is busy and announce you’ll only take seven minutes of their time. Relieved and intrigued, they will pay attention.

The Washington, D.C.-based Ms. Horn, author of recently published Got Your Attention?, calls herself the intrigue expert. She was involved for many years with the Maui Writers Conference in Hawaii, which gave writers of books and screenplays the chance to meet with the industry top echelon and pitch their ideas. But mostly, they flopped. “I saw people who worked months and years not getting approval as they couldn’t make a compelling message,” she said in an interview.

They had packed in far too much material. They had rehearsed that stuff to death. And as she watched the decision makers’ eyebrows, she could plot the chances of success in the first 60 seconds – that tell-tale body part would usually signal lack of interest or confusion, rather than intrigue. If the presenters didn’t surprise the decision maker with something intriguing in that critical opening minute, the deal would be lost.

So learn from Kathleen Callender, founder of PharmaJet, a needle free injection technology, who moaned that she had only 10 minutes to pitch a roomful of investors. “Kathleen, you don’t have 10 minutes,” Ms. Horn retorted. “Those investors will have heard 16 other pitches. You have 60 seconds to break through the afternoon blahs and earn their attention.”

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NRStor puts hopes in compressed air energy storage project

June 25, 2015
Toronto-based NRStor Inc. is pursuing the “holy grail” of the power industry, looking to solve the critical challenge of electricity storage with technology that would compress air and store it in salt caverns for use when the wind isn’t blowing or for the province’s nuclear reactors when they are pumping more energy than is needed.

NRStor is one of more than a dozen companies vying for contracts to supply a total of 16.4 megawatts of storage to demonstrate the commercial viability and test how to integrate the services into the complex workings of the grid.

Chief executive officer Annette Verschuren said the two-megawatt project that NRStor is proposing would serve a much grander ambition: to construct as much as 1,000 megawatts of capacity for compressed air storage over the next 20 years in order to build a “flexible, green, 21st-century electric system” in Ontario.

The company commissioned a study – to be released Tuesday – that calculates the province could save as much as $8-billion in power costs over 20 years through compressed air storage, assuming it meets its current target of 10,700 megawatts of wind power by 2021.

“Our focus is to make [the storage] competitive with the cost of generating electricity from gas turbines” which is currently used to back up intermittent wind power, Ms. Verschuren said in an interview. “We think it’s there now.”

NRStor is partnering with Massachusetts-based General Compression Inc., which has developed a compressed-air technology that uses no fuel but instead employs heat exchangers in what is known as a near-isothermal process. Two large compressed-air storage plants now in operation – one in the United States and one in Germany – use natural gas to compress the air, reducing the cost-effectiveness.

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Survey says Canadians trust homegrown brands the most

June 25, 2015
Canadians trust homegrown brands most, according to a new survey.

Tim Hortons, President's Choice and Shoppers Drug Mart topped the list in the new ranking released Tuesday by the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. The school plans to release its Gustavson Brand Trust Index annually.

A sample of 3,125 Canadian consumers ranked a total of 249 brands in 22 industries. The brands were scored on 40 attributes, including quality, innovation, value, leadership and social responsibility - the most pertinent factors influencing consumer trust.

A recent survey by global PR firm Edelman found that Canadians are losing trust in institutions - particularly companies.

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index was created in part as a response to this finding, said Saul Klein, dean of the business school.

"That's a key part of what we were looking at - why overall trust is going down, why some brands are performing poorly but others are doing well," Dr.

Klein said. The idea is "to focus on the ones doing well to understand why."

The study found that consumers trust on two different levels: functional and emotional.

Functional trust comes from traditional metrics such as quality, reliability and consistency.

"Functional trust is a minimum for consumers - if you're not delivering, we are not interested in you anyway," Dr. Klein said.

What's more interesting is emotional trust, he said.

"It's the emotional trust that differentiates brands, and it comes from a deeper alignment between what the brand is doing and what our own interests are."

Emotional trust rests on metrics such as workplace practices, environmental policies and community responsibility.

"Canadians want to use our consumer dollars to make choices that reinforce behaviours we agree with, and if we trust a company to do that, we are a lot more likely to recommend it."

Along with the national ranking, the survey also produced results by industry, region and demographic indicators. It found that women tend to trust brands more than men do (except when it comes to cars, beer and spirits); that older consumers trust the top brands more than younger consumers do; and that people trust brands in the financial, travel and utility industries least.

Age-based preferences were evident in awarding trust as well.

While Tim Hortons was most highly trusted for all ages, consumers 18-35 ranked Google and Amazon second and third respectively, while those 35 and older picked Dairyland and President's Choice, and those 55 and older picked Canadian Tire.

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