Women in tech were defined as being “fast and furious” (credits to Alexandra Dumitru). And the fact that we have organized our first community activity as local chapter even before our launch event, only proves it!
So our first activity was one amazing Communication Ninja workshop led by Alex Barrera. He is currently CEO and Founder of Press42.com, a site that wants to bring startups to the right bloggers. He’s the editor for Spain, Portugal and Latam for The Kernel, founder at Inkzee.com, co-founder and curator of Tetuan Valley, startup mentor at HackFWD, Gamma Rebels, Startupbootcamp Europe, Springboard or Huge Thing, partner at Okuri Ventures, Sandbox network Madrid Ambassador and Startup Digest Madrid curator.
Unfortunately, seats were extremely limited, so for those of you who couldn’t attend, here we are (now that things are slowly calming down after a full of amazing tech events November) with this post in order to offer you some insights and present you the key points that we have learned during the workshop.
So…who needs your story in the first place?
Short answer: Only if you do tell a good story, would anybody listen to you.
The workshop started with a nice insight from Sun Tzu:
If you know your enemies and know yourself you can win one hundred battles without a single loss.
This quote underlines the importance of knowing exactly what your product/ service is offering and expressing it very clearly while being aware all the time about what your competitors are doing.
After defining exactly the product/service and stating a clear pitch about your startup, you’ll need to build a relationship with the bloggers that you would love to cover your startup. But before going any further, here are some questions you should ask yourself – What do you know about bloggers in your industry? How many of them do you know personally? And do you have any idea what the person behind the blog you’re reading looks like?
Here are 3 cool insights about bloggers that Alex Barrera (a blogger and blogger maven himself) shared with us:
- They are no experts in the fields they are covering. Take for example Michael Arrington, of Techcrunch. He has a background in law.
- They hate spam
- They are forced to write
Now, be creative and figure out a way to send them a piece of content, that would stand out in their crowded inboxex and that would make sense to them, their blog type (news, analysis, etc) and their audience. Quite a job for a founder, isn’t it?
After bloggers, there comes the press, and the question is – when to contact the press? Well, PR is rather an ongoing process than just a one-time project, and you need to be connected continuously to the media people. You need to stay in touch with them, ask for their opinion on what you’re doing (find the right balance, don’t get too annoying), and figure out ways to help them in their endeavors. A common error that tech people make is to believe they don’t need the media and to have the “I don’t need to contact anyone!” type of mentality.
We also learned from Alex that branding is about relationships, meaningful ones, and what’s most important is to have a good answer to the question: “How many bloggers, media people do I really know?” Therefore, each one of us interested in telling a story at some point in time should make a list of bloggers and journalists of interest, follow them and interact with them on a daily basis (remember the balance). If you want them to write about you, you need a relationship with them, so start working on it. And here’s a little tip on that – market the marketers! Write stuff anywhere they can see it but don’t spam and keep in mind that the more someone reads about your startup the easier it becomes for that person to recognize your startup. It’s about having your name recognized by people.
Moving on to the pitch. Leave out the technical terms. Prepare the kind of pitch that grandma would understand. During the pitch you need to tell people why they should use your product; project the customers into the future together with your product and make them realize how it is going to improve their life. Keep it simple and when finished delivering the pitch appreciate the questions – it means that someone actually understood what you’re doing and they might have even gotten interested.
In the end… bear in mind that anything we deliver, be it pitches for investors, media, or clients, should be stories. As we are so used to them, we grew up with them and we all love them.
So what is a story?
Mastering storytelling means to know and practice its technique (what we did during the workshop), but also to find the right balance between facts and imagination. You have to be careful to the boundaries because if imagination is too vivid, people won’t believe it. And if facts are monopolizing your piece of content, it may become boring. Therefore, simplicity is the key word again. Although the simplest things are also the hardest ones.
During the workshop, Alex has revealed lots of must know tips for founders when communicating, but only one more are we going to write here down: “Find the storyteller in your startup, match him with your writer and put them to work on your story”, as some are good in telling stories, some are good in writing. Make sure you indentify these characters in your startup and be careful to not switch their places.
Besides the tips, there was the invaluable practice, every participant of the workshop had to craft his story. Boy oh boy, you should have listened to version ones.
But we’ll have to stop now, as we don’t want to generate not even the slightest feeling of jealousy in the hearts of those who couldn’t attend. All we can promise is to continue our lobby in determining Alex to make an online ninja course that would be available to every entrepreneur in need of guidance.
But until then, browse Alejandro’s workshop slides and get at least a bit of the sweet taste of it.