The Disruptors: Katie Dunsworth Reiach, PR Savvy
An entrepreneur since the age of 24, Katie was discovered by Oprah in 2007 after co-founding the money-mentoring business Smart Cookies, and featured with her money group on the iconic talk show. In the heart of the financial crisis, Katie was among the first to make financial information engaging and relevant to women.
By 2009, Katie was co-hosting her own W Network series and had co-authored the financial best seller Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough, focusing on financial literacy for younger women. Her second book, Smart Cookies Guide to Couples and Money, is about how to operate financially.
Today, Katie is an owner of Talk Shop, an award winning PR and integrative marketing agency, consistently named among Canada’s Top 100 employers. One of the reasons is they offer industry leading maternity and parental top-up, flexible schedules and wellness packages to all employees.
Katie continues to expand her love of business through programs like InResidence, a concept that allocates a portion of her company’s annual profits to incubating new ventures, and creating new entrepreneurs from her team of talented employees. She is also a contributor to Global News and CTV Morning Live, and remains an active volunteer for FWE and PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs.
What’s something about PR that few people know, but should?
That the majority of what you read in the news didn’t just happen. Behind the scenes there is likely a communications person who works with journalists to make sure stories get told with accurate information. And that if you work for a business, or own, it’s worth looking at what PR might be able to do for you.
What has been your biggest accomplishment at Talk Shop Media?
There have been quite a few. I think recognition as a Top Employer tops the list because we have invested tremendously in our people, and trying to move the dial on what the norm can be for corporate culture when it comes to women. We pay up to 100% maternity leave top up, invest in our teams’ business ventures, offer flexibility, and above average vacation and paid time off. In general we try to be the type of employer that our people are proud of.
Why do you think women don’t pitch for venture capital as much as their male counterparts?
I think women suffer from imposter syndrome, at a much higher rate than men. Many of us need to do something perfectly, or we don’t do it at all. This is part of the reason I am involved with FWE (Forum for Women Entrepreneurs) is that they are bringing venture capital to women, teaching them how to pitch, and exposing the importance of having more women have the same access as their male counterparts do.
Talk about InResidence and PowerPlay — your involvement, what they do, the difference they make?
I am really proud of our InResidence program. This is really putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to recognizing the value of the bright ideas of our team. Many Talk Shop employees are budding entrepreneurs, and we give them the chance to pitch their business to us, and gain investment, and the opportunity to build that business without having to leave a full time paycheque. Our next pitch round is in April, and I am so excited about what they have created.
PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs is an amazing not-for-profit that I am a board member of.
What PowerPlay does is bring entrepreneurial education to students grade 4 to grade 8 all across Canada. This isn’t like a junior achievement concept. This is a scalable education that is seeing children who are marginalized or disengaged in school flourish, because they will actually create their own small businesses. I am so passionate about what they are doing because this kind of education is proven to change kids’ mindsets about what they can do, and what is possible for them, and do it at an age that makes a massive impact on their confidence and self-worth.
How do you approach PR in a way that only Talkshop can?
We are a business-minded team. This means we are deeply strategic in understanding and recommending programs that will drive your business forward. We don’t chase flavour of the month strategies, in a one size fits all approach. We take the time to inform ourselves, look at the data and do something that will grow your business.
Employee retention. We truly have the best in the business working at Talk Shop. Because of all we have done to be a top ranked employer, we have industry low turn over. This means our clients get the best people, and don’t constantly have to be dealing with changes in the team that helps drive their business.
Digital get it factor. This is a vibrant young team, lead by some of the most knowledgeable experts in Canada. From influencer marketing, to whether your brand should be on TikTok, we are on top of these things, long before it hits the mainstream, and this gives us a major competitive advantage.