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HAWKS


Hawk Logo_JAJ0561by Mark T. Wayne

“Quit talking business! This is important!” A shocking pronouncement coming from one’s employer! I go mum. We sit behind thick glass, watching the Chicago Blackhawks clobber the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the series. The Hawks will win this game and go on to the coveted Stanley Cup. That is correct, sir—an opportunity for a third championship in just a few years! Continue reading HAWKS

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Innovating Women Leaning In to Tell Their Own Stories


Innovating Women Leaning In to Tell Their Own Stories

The technology industry has a gender problem. The vast majority of its Venture Capitalists are male as are the founders of its startups and its technology heads. Even the boards of its public companies are dominated by males.

It isn’t that women are not up to the job. The problem is that they are discouraged and left out. During childhood, girls are often sent the wrong signals by their parents. When they go to school, girls with an interest in engineering and science are called “tomboys”. When they defy the odds and become scientists or engineers, women are often treated as inferior and passed over for promotion.

Sadly, the deck has always been stacked against women—right through the ages. For example, in the 1730s, a brilliant woman mathematician, Emilie du Châtelet, translated and popularized Sir Isaac Newton’s arcane Principia Mathematica, and created a foundation for Einstein to develop his theories. She inspired Voltaire’s writings. But she received almost no recognition and few have ever heard of her. Similarly, a century later, Marie Curie performed pioneering research on radioactivity for which she received two Nobel prizes, yet she is less of a household name than Kim Kardashian.

But things are changing. Women are achieving greater success, as Google and Makers.com have documented. They are becoming more confident and assertive, and are helping each other, as my research has shown. And women are speaking up.

Sheryl Sandberg told her amazing story in a best-selling book, Lean In. The book was powerful but subjected to intense criticism because this is her story—a privileged woman in Silicon Valley. Many women said that they could not relate to this.

To bring to life the stories of everyday women all over the world, I am working with journalist Farai Chideya to crowd-create a new book. This will put the role of women in innovation into a historic perspective and then look forward. The book will discuss the challenges women have faced in different fields of innovation; how they achieved success as entrepreneurs and in the workplace; and strategies companies have employed to diversify their pool of talent and support women moving up the ladder.

Our goal is provide a resource for women to learn from each other.

We are crowdsourcing everything—including the funding of the project on Indiegogo. Our hope is that hundreds of women will participate in this project. We will post detailed essays that women write on our website http://www.InnovatingWomen.org, and Farai will summarize their stories and distill their knowledge in the book. All of the proceeds from the book and whatever we raise on Indiegogo in excess of our costs will be used to support women to learn about advancing technologies at Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program and to fund their startups.

As I have often said, this is the most innovative time in human history—when entrepreneurs anywhere can solve big problems. Many technologies such as robotics, AI, 3D printing, nanomaterials, medicine, and synthetic biology are now advancing exponentially. This is making it possible for small teams to do what was once possible only for governments and large corporations to do: solve humanity’s grand challenges. These challenges include the shortages of food, clean water, and energy and the problems of disease and health. Women will undoubtedly play a very important role in this new era of innovation. But we must level the playing field for them.

So if you want to enable more women to solve our grand challenges, now’s your chance. Help us crowd-create the book and fund the campaign. And please tell your friends and colleagues about this.

(VIA. Vivek Wadhwa – Linkedin – Fellow, Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University)

How To Get Press: Don’t Pitch Your Product


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I get pitches every day from entrepreneurs, PR agencies and book authors who hope to get an article about them written on my blog, OnStartups (300,000 readers) — or on HubSpot’s marketing blog(over 1.5 million visits a month).

It’s sad that most of those pitches fall flat and are likely to be completely ignored. A waste of time and money for everyone.

For example, here’s a pitch from a PR professional. I’ve changed it slightly to avoid embarrassing anyone:

“I’m working with a wonderful new business… The owners grew up together and decided to go into business… it’s a story I’m sure your readers will care a lot about!”

Uh, no. I don’t really care about their story. No one else probably will either — except maybe their moms.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the entrepreneurs are great people, but many entrepreneurs can tell a tale of struggle and euphoria and heartbreak and someday, against all odds, turning their dreams into reality and making their business a success. While occasionally we might be inspired or motivated, for the most part we’re just not that interested in other people’s stories. Unless those stories are particularly remarkable we’re more apt to just keep living our own dreams and writing our own stories. So, the things we’re interested in is not other people’s stories, but information that helps us write our own.

So what should you do if you’re trying to spread the word about new products and services, landing new customers, bringing investors onboard… all the stuff you hire PR agencies to do for you or, more likely, try to do on your own?

If you’re looking for press, forget the formulaic, cookbook approach to crafting a winning media pitch. That approach may result in coverage in a few outlets… but not the ones you really want.

Quick rule of thumb: Any media outlet that will do a story based on a crappy pitch is a media outlet that will get you crappy exposure.

Let’s pretend you’re thinking about pitching me. (You can apply the following to any media outlet or blog, though.)

Here’s what to do and not to do:

Don’t tell me your story is unique.

No offense, but it really isn’t. There are thousands of Ramen noodle stories. There are thousands of 3 am “Eureka!” stories. There are thousands of maxed-out credit cards, relatives won’t return your calls, last-minute financing savior stories.

Your story is deservedly fascinating to you because you lived it, but to the average reader your story sounds a lot like every other entrepreneur’s story. Claiming your story is unique creates an expectation that, if not met, negatively impacts the rest of your pitch.

And if your story truly is unique, I’ll know. You won’t have to tell me.

Don’t tell me how much a little publicity will help you.

Never waste time by explaining how this could be a win-win relationship or, worse, by claiming you want to share your wisdom because you simply want to help others.

I know you want publicity, and I know why. I get it. We’re cool.

Know what I’ve done recently.

It’s easy to think, “Hey, he recently wrote about choosing a co-founder, so I should pitch a story about how I help people find co-founders”

Um, probably not. If just wrote about co-founders. I’m probably good for a little bit on that topic. Never assume one article indicates an abiding fascination with a particular topic.

But do feel free to pitch if you aren’t a member of the choir I just preached to. Different points of view catch my attention; same thing, different day does not.

Know my interests.

You certainly don’t need to know I enjoy late-night walks on the beach. (Hey, who doesn’t?) But skim a few posts and you’ll know I have a soft spot for company culture, startup funding and startup marketing

So if you really want to get my attention, don’t use the tried-but-in-no-way-true “mention you really enjoyed something recent the writer wrote” approach.

Instead put your effort into finding an angle that may appeal to my interests. If you can’t be bothered to do that you’ll never get the publicity you want.

Forget a profile piece.

Straight profile pieces that tell the story of a business are boring. (At least I think so, which is why I don’t post those)

The best articles let readers learn from your experience, your mistakes, and your knowledge. Always focus on benefiting readers: When you do, your company gets to bask in the reflected PR glow.

So, I don’t want to know what you do; I want to know what you know. If you started a company, share five things you learned about landing financing. If you developed a product, share four mistakes you made early on. If you entered a new market, share three strategies you used to steal market share from competitors.

And while you may think the “5 steps to” or “4 ways to” approach is overdone, keep in mind readers love them… and even if I decide not to frame the story that way, developing mental bullet points ahead of time is a great way to organize your information (which helps me) and ensure you have great talking points (which definitely helps you.)

Realize that the more you feel you need to say… the less you really have to say.

Some people think bloggers are lazy and look for stories that write themselves. I can’t argue with the lazy part, but I really don’t want to read a 1,000-word pitch with a comprehensive overview of the topic and a list of semi-relevant statistics. The best products can be described in a few sentences, and so can the best pitches:

So now let’s get specific. Pretend you’re crafting your pitch:

Remember: forget what you want.

Many people think, “Wow, it would be awesome if OnStartups.com ran a story about our new product—think of the exposure! So many VCs would read it! We’re looking for funding!”

Maybe so, but unless you focus on how readers can benefit from the story (learning about your new product isn’t a benefit to readers), that’s not going to happen.

Then, think about what I want.

I want to inform and occasionally – hopefully – entertain readers; the more you can help me accomplish that goal, the more interested I am in what you have to say.

Then craft your pitch with publicity as a secondary goal.

In the example above, the PR pro didn’t offer readers anything. His only focus was on getting publicity to benefit his clients.

Flip it around and focus solely on how you can benefit readers. When you do, your company will benefit by extension.

For example, if you want to spread the word about:

· New products or services: Share four lessons learned during the product development process; describe three ways you listened to customers and determined how to better meet their needs; explain the steps involved in manufacturing products overseas, especially including what you did wrong.

· Landing a major customer: Describe how you changed your sales process to allow you to compete with heavy hitters in your industry; share three stories about major sales that got away and what you learned from failing to reel them in; detail the steps you took to quickly ramp up capacity while ensuring current customers needs were still met.

· Bringing in key investors: Explain how you helped investors embrace your vision for the company; describe four key provisions that create the foundation for a solid partnership agreement; share the stories of three pitches to VCs that went horribly wrong and how those experiences helped you shape a winning pitch.

Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it’s worth it. When you offer to help people solve problems and learn from your mistakes, bloggers and writers will be a lot more interested.

More importantly, readers will be more interested in the news you want to share because first you helped them—and that gives them a great reason to be interested in your business.

(VIA. Dharmesh Shah – Linkedin – Founder and CTO at HubSpot and Blogger at OnStartups.com)