This is the first in a series of articles on SIPA member companies that are dealing with some part of the frontlines of the pandemic. Today, it's Coleman Publishing,
is very proud of the job Coleman Publishing is doing with their daily online show—Coleman Report Live
—serving SBA lenders, bankers and small business financing experts. And he should be. It's a hit. Hundreds of small-business lenders—and, he's told, the #2 at SBA—and more are tuning in every day to hear the latest news about the trillions of dollars that the government has earmarked for loans.
"For the most part, people are so thirsty for any spot of normalcy," Coleman told me at the end of last week. "We start at 1 pm Eastern time every day, no matter what. I think it's comforting for people to log in for 30 minutes. It's a ritual now."
And it's leading to lots of goodwill and record revenue for Coleman webinars. "We cater to a not-really-talked-about segment of banking," he said. "They deal with cumbersome forms that most people don't want to deal with. Overnight, the government passed $659 billion of small business loans—that's like 20 years of SBA funding, and we're doing it in one month. Pass it Friday, open Monday."
Coleman said that, through the show, they are talking to "600 CEOs of lending departments every day. We're the only player in town reporting on this on a daily show. It was only weekly but now we've turned it into this wonderful platform where we can have the most up-to-date news, can do polls and see what's happening on the street, and sell our product... And [despite being daily] the show's standards haven't dropped at all. I'm up all night reading federal notices, putting webinars together, lining up guests."
If Coleman looked tired one day on the show, perhaps it was the day a speaker for a webinar called him at 5:30 am to tell him that he couldn't go live later that day. So thinking quickly, Coleman recorded him from 6:30 to 7:30 am to broadcast to an audience of 200 later. Then he went on TV at 10 am—he's in California.
When I asked Coleman how filming himself at home is, he said that he and his wife bought a house and recently put in hardwood floors. It makes sound much better.
Does working through a pandemic mean making specific choices about your house? In the new normal, yes. Actually, just the fact that Coleman and his father Bob started this show was a huge factor in their ability to pivot now to do it on a daily basis.
Similarly, Paul Miller, CEO of Questex—a large media company that has been able to move to virtual events these last few weeks—said that a couple decisions allowed them to successfully pivot.
"We chose to [look for people with] a lot of centralized skill sets," he said. "This has helped to attract great talent and become a real engine for a 180-degree pivot in this environment. We knew it would enable us to be very agile. And it has allowed us to be very agile.
"Second, we spent a lot of time in the last 18 months breaking down silos in the company, always a good thing. That has allowed very fast sharing across divisions. I'm even doing virtual breakfasts with employees... So it's cultural as well as strategic."
I met Coleman Publishing editor Caity Witucki in Washington, D.C. a few months ago at a Coleman event. Her credentials were impressive but she seemed quiet so it's impressive to see her now co-hosting the daily show. As Miller said, the more skills that people have today, the better—especially in this crisis environment.
"Our show is still the place for our audience to go," Coleman said. "There's so much misinformation out there. Bob and I have been doing this for the last 10 years. We'll try to keep the show going as long as possible. All of the new connections we make become staples of the daily show."
At the end of last Thursday's show, Coleman offered a sincere message to his viewers. "We love the audiences; it keeps growing every day. We really appreciate the support," he said quietly, before showing an email address where people could address more questions to.
You could see just a slight sigh as he said that they will be getting to the slew of questions offline that afternoon. And I'm sure they did just that.