Getting media coverage for your startup

There’s a lot of things I’m not good at, getting free media coverage for my startups is not one of them. Every project I’ve ever worked on I’ve managed to get major mainstream media coverage for it.

I recently wrote a post for the crew at Pollenizer on the Sammartino methods in getting how to get media coverage. I call it:

How to media hack your startup to awareness.

Like most things in business there is a recipe, and once you know it you can cook up that dish just about any time you have the right ingredients. A couple of my favourite recipes are right here.

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It’s already been done

The first thing many entrepreneurs do when considering a new idea or startup is comb the market to see if it has already been done. The most common result is the realisation that someone thought of it, and even built it, way before we did. Beside the fact that this is a validation of awesomeness, it also leads us to make the rookie error of looking for a new idea. Instead we might consider these two questions.

  1. If it’s been done and we didn’t know about it, has it really been done?
  2. If they did it and it didn’t work, is it because the idea is crap, or did they do a crap version of it?

The only real way to answer these questions is to ignore the fact that it has already been done, and do our version of it anyway. While it is true there is only room for one stunt or advertisement using a particular idea, creating a business on a certain idea has greater complexities and nuance, all of which the idea itself represents a very small part.

If you’ve still got doubts, here’s a little known fact worth remembering: There  were over 300 video sharing channels when Youtube launched. What Youtube did was create a simple user experience and had the killer app of easy embed across the blogosphere and most other social web services.

Startup blog says: Build your version anyway.

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100,000 eyeballs for $8

If you want to know how to get your brand exposed to 100,000 people for $8 then we need look no further than what David did.

You may remember this post where David go his Jarritos soft drink van all branded up. Well, he took the next step in exposure and got to the AFL grand final early for a front row car park near the MCG for a measly $8. As far as I can tell it’s one of the greatest media investments of all time – there were 100,000 people in attendance. See photo journal below. Great startup bootstrapping David.

What they don’t tell you

It’s easy to get caught up in the brilliant stories of startups going viral to gain awareness, and the simplicity and usability of certain websites turning into large revenue streams. How cool the actual product is, the fact that the founders just built it and the rest just happened. This is the veritable entrepreneurial myth.

Here’s a few things to think about:

How many sales and business development people do you think Google has? Answer = around 5000. And we all thought their non human automated adwords system did it all.

What investment has Twitter made in Public Relations? You think Oprah and Obama just happened upon it? No they were pitched to heavily with a large investment in leading PR firms.

How many Youtube videos were posted by company created accounts? Answer = Hundreds of thousands.

Who seeds the quirky auction items on ebay? Answer = ebay started the game very early on and let the media know.

Everything is not as it seems. Push marketing is alive wand well, just the tactics have changed. It feels very organic and community driven, but the often the community is created by it’s founders and leaders. Nothing wrong with that, it is the job of entrepreneurs to invent said communities. But it makes for better business articles to talk of such things occurring naturally, so the real story is rarely told.

The question for startups is – what tactics can we employ to garner the same momentum?

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My new startup

I’m launching a new startup. For those who don’t know about it here are some of the key points:

  • The brand extension comes from an already successful enterprise
  • The partnership & legal agreements were entered into over a year ago
  • The idea is not an original one, rather a new execution of a proven formula
  • We didn’t pitch the idea or ask for permission, we just did it
  • It’s a brand extension
  • It’s a self funded project with no external capital. But we wont have ownership
  • We will give away the corporation, once it is cash flow positive
  • It’s a very long lead project
  • It wont be cash flow positive for more than 20 years
  • Estimated cost of the project is around $500K
  • We do expect to however, to yield emotional & community benefits very early after launch
  • It’s an industry we’ve never worked in before, but have a natural flair for it
  • Some of the product development will be outsourced to 3rd parties
  • Outsourcing will occur in 3 large segments of up to 6 years each
  • The most important product development will be done in house
  • There wont be any major advertising, brand awareness will be driven through family & friends
  • We already know it’s unique, but wont require any intellectual property protection
  • However, major security measures will be taken to protect the asset, especially in the incubation phase

My new startup is my baby due January 25th, and it’s the most exciting one I’ve ever been involved in. We’re involved in more startups than we think…

Startup Blog says: Let’s not define ourselves by what we own, but the cool stuff we do.

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Building your personal brand

One of the sections at Startup School is building personal brands. Which are of increasing importance in the entrepreneurial sphere. Once upon a time our business reputation built a personal brand. Recently things have flipped somewhat where our personal brands are used to build our business ones. Jay Z style… It just so happens that it works on a micro level as well.

Build a personal reputation, as a smart, caring,  and giving person in this new business context (or have some hit song and Hip Hop wars) and you’ll be on the way to building an external financial brand.

So here’s some nuggets from Startup School to get excited about:

Startup School

Update: Viral marketing – literally

I’m not sure if this is viral marketing but it is certainly cruelty to insects.

How else could your startup be promoted by living things other than humans?

Would you want your startup to be associated with cruelty – I wouldn’t.

Also a solid viewpoint here from Xavier Shay

Startup School