Reasons to Keep Reading By Ronn Torossian

Why is reading important for a business owner? When I think about that question, I think of the late President Ronald Reagan, of whom it is said that, throughout his career, he was always the best dressed in the room. He stood out from any crowd by simply appearing to be the smartest person there.

In order to stand out, one needs to always have that extra something. For a business owner, that may be a piece of information, the mastery of a subject, or an insight others don’t possess. You get that by reading. And not just by reading emails and enewsletters.

Newspapers and magazines are important because they are a carefully chosen selection of news and events. Print puts things in order and offers only the most relevant information. With a digital medium, on the other hand, you can’t predict where you’ll end up. The news item can include multiple links that can lead you far away from your starting point.

So how can business owners focus on reading what they need to in the uber-information era? Here are some resources that have served me well:

The newspaper

Get it at your front door and read it first thing. Know what’s going on around you (a necessity for me as the owner of a PR firm). Your industry is a global one; that’s a fact now, no matter what field you’re in. Many in the last decade lost their jobs because they were asleep when global trends were foretelling that jobs of their kind would be exterminated. Follow vital stories: whether your competitors are growing, government initiatives that pertain to your industry, and who’s hiring and who’s firing. Armed with that information, have discussions about the news with colleagues and friends. You will get a better idea of how the mega-picture is relevant to your business.

Trade magazines and online analyses

These are essential to understanding the arena in which you play. Are you familiar with trends and transformations in your industry? In what direction is the service/ product/firm predicted to go and where should it aim to reach? Make sure to subscribe to several trade publications, online and off, to get a wide and progressive perspective.

Online sharing

The 2.0 era and social media have led to an unprecedented amount of sharing. So, don’t rule out other people’s advice. Make it a practice to check in on five blogs regularly: those of competitors, of people whose business practices you admire, or someone whose site could give you creative juice or inspiration.

Another person’s opinion can help you in many ways, both personally and professionally. Content such as tips, motivational notes, how-to lists, and even stories of personal obstacles are valuable. You never know where your next idea may be waiting.

Information is all around us, and the wise will find enrichment, inspiration, and strategy through their reading. Once you’ve developed a strong reading habit, take a few moments to write, too. Contribute back to the places from which you’ve borrowed.

Make a strong impression at your next engagement. Show that you know.

Ronn Torossian is president and CEO of 5WPR, one of the 20 largest independent PR agencies in the U.S. Named one of the top 40”s Under 40″s by PR Week & Advertising Age, Ronn Torossian was a semi-finalist for the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and may be reached online at

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