“Imagine you’re sitting across from a reporter at lunch. You’re telling them what you do, your story, why they should care about your product. You have to convince this reporter to not only write about you, but that what you’re doing matters. That you’re going to be successful.”
This is Caryn Marooney, Head of Technology Communications for Facebook. But before that, she co-founded OutCast, the elite PR agency that worked with one-time startups Amazon, Salesforce.com, Netflix and VMware. She’s seen firsthand how hard it is for young companies to capture press attention when they have zero brand recognition and limited resources.
Most founders set out to create something iconic but don’t know where to start. At First Round’s recent CEO Summit, Marooney boiled down this massive challenge into an execution plan and guidelines for startups to craft an image that will resonate with the public and the press, launch on a strong note, and build momentum as they grow — regardless of size and resources.
Great advice here and a solid model of PR planning. In tech we tend to focus on the big bang event, but I’ve learned over time that a steady stream of content relevant to what you are “launching” is a much better strategy. A “rolling thunder” of activity and messages up to a point in time (launch) can be very compelling and engage audiences in a clever way, but the flame needs to keep going past the big launch event if there is one. In business, I’ve rarely experienced a big fanfare launch event that paid off in the long term.
But what I have seen work is a continual drumbeat of information and messages that entice the media and your audience to find out more. Love the RIBS approach (relevant, inevitable, believable, and simple)… the S is critical- do not over complicate or make things difficult to understand. Use clear language that represents a strong value proposition that is relevant to your audience. Seems simple right? It takes time to get there, and more than just a few “first” drafts. I especially love and advise my clients of this rule- “Don’t wrestle with a pig in the mud. You both get dirty but the pig likes it.” The best position you can take in your message is “rise above” and not head to head. Especially when you are the new kid on the block. Differentiating yourself from the crowded sea of options is where your blue ocean messaging comes in. Don’t miss out on that opportunity because you might think your innovation is better than anything out there. In today’s market, that statement might hold true for just a few limelight minutes. But if you differentiate properly, your message can be valid across a product/company lifetime. It’s uniquely yours.
See on firstround.com