Thursday, October 14, 2010

MassTLCL2 - 42 Ways to Get Buzz for your Venture

Meg O'Leary from InkHouse participated in the MassTLCL2 unconference on Innovation today on a panel offering 42 ways to get buzz with Scott Kirsner, Adam Zand and Doug Banks. And here they are:

  1. How can I get you to write about my company’? Doesn’t work. “Need some romance first”
  2. Read Scott Kirsner’s blog post about how to get his attention.
  3. There is triage involved in how you do it. Figure out what your objectives are—employees? Investors? Users?
  4. For users, go to a consumer reporter or a producer where users may be.
  5. Three quarters of the world “news” is “new.” Come back with something new. Product launches are good, product updates are not so much. Novelty, funding, new exec level appointments are important.
  6. Meeting someone in person is much better than getting an email or a phone call.
  7. Get your story together before you reach out. What is important about your company and how are you going to talk about it? You are the PR person – have brainstorming sessions to talk about how to pitch
  8. Position yourself as part of a trend that’s happening – “this is how we relate to this trend.” It’s hard for reporters to write about companies that operate in a vacuum
  9. Be able to get your story down in 30-60 seconds – “Clear, Concise, Compelling”
  10. Admit who your competitors – you don’t want a reporter to pigeonhole you. Wrong: “Our only competitor is customer ignorance”
  11. Messaging is an exercise in cutting back. Listen to other people and figure out which part of your message is important. What 1 or 2 things do you want people to know about? It’s a hard thing to do because it’s a personal passion.
  12. Be able to answer “If you’re at a cocktail party and had to explain what you do to normal people, what would you say?”
  13. Tweet as a human being and not as your company. Journalists want to follow people instead of a sanitized twitter account
  14. Be careful pitching on Twitter. Some reporters don’t like it because it can be very generic and could be a blast
  15. Follow hashtags
  16. Video and animation can drive buzz – a product demo or screencast can be helpful. People will even embed your video. Be careful with videos that are too infomercial-like
  17. Once people know what you do and who you are, you need to inform and build buzz at the same time. A simple video can be good for reporters
  18. If you have a website with no phone number, it can be difficult for reporters to reach you. Don’t rely just on a contact form. Embed your phone number as an image if you’re worried about spammers
  19. If you want something in print, you need to be aware of deadlines
  20. Be quickly responsive to voicemail messages and emails
  21. You can’t build buzz based just on news (deals, etc). You need a good story to get any traction. The stories need to be unique. Don’t rely on press releases
  22. Have your customers do PR for you. They took a chance on you – have them pitch your product. This is easier for B2C than B2B. Customers aren’t just for case studies. Ask a customer “will you consider doing a virtual roundtable?” or other ideas. Make sure your product is good before you do this.
  23. It’s not necessarily press that are going to give you all of your buzz. Twitter can be too ephemeral to be effective – 3 days later there’s no more buzz from it. Blogs have more staying power
  24. Become an expert in a space instead of just “write about me, write about me”
  25. Find influencers on Twitter
  26. Be careful with “off the record” – it really doesn’t necessarily exist and there’s no standards amongst reporters
  27. Press may not be relevant to your product getting customers, but it can be helpful for other things, like getting investors
  28. Media relations and public relations are not synonymous. There’s more to launching then sending out a press release to a few people and hoping for the best
  29. Be sincere and genuine in your communications with journalists, but be cognizant of the timing of your messaging. Reporters want to hear a non-coached legitimate answer instead of a sterilized answer that doesn’t tell them what you do
  30. Be careful of overpublicizing before you’re ready for it. Make sure you build your business to the point where things are in order
  31. People can get their perception of your company from your tweets, both negative and positive
  32. Envision a headline first
  33. Share numbers and the “nobody knows this part of our story”
  34. VCs, investors, and service providers can do PR for you
  35. Get photos of your product and team that are good enough to publish
  36. Make sure you pick your shots and give people original content. Have an editorial calendar of what your news will be for the next 6 months
  37. Press release wires – for a news release, you need to release it. The wire can help for SEO, but some of them don’t reach journalists. No need to release national with the way things are distributed. Check out . Some reporters don’t look at press releases at all
  38. Inside look – give reporters a look at what’s actually happening inside a company. “Come down to Disney and we’ll take you underground to see the way the rides actually work.”
  39. Be ready to get negative coverage. Reporters are “not your outsourced marketing department”
  40. Don’t be afraid to be fun. Be human and authentic
  41. Tell the truth
  42. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue

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