PR Tips For Startups » journalists http://prtipsforstartups.com Public Relations Advice and Startup Marketing Tips Thu, 07 Aug 2014 22:52:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Public Relations Advice and Startup Marketing Tips Chikodi Chima: Public Relations, Content Marketing , Sales and Business Development Strategist no Public Relations Advice and Startup Marketing Tips Public Relations, Content Marketing, Media Relations, Business Development, Lead Generation, Public Speaking, Storytelling, Entrepreneurship PR Tips For Startups » journalists http://prtipsforstartups.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/PRTips_logo_iTunes_iTunes_1400x1400.jpg http://prtipsforstartups.com San Francisco, CA Don’t Freak Out When People Like Your Startup Concept http://prtipsforstartups.com/validating/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/validating/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 04:22:31 +0000 http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=2257 The scariest part of validating my business was not fighting skeptics. That I could handle. I freaked when people told me my idea made sense. That’s not what you’re supposed to hear. Is it? “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win,” is the Ghandi mantra by which many entrepreneurs [...]

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Validating Startup Idea CC pasukaruThe scariest part of validating my business was not fighting skeptics. That I could handle. I freaked when people told me my idea made sense. That’s not what you’re supposed to hear. Is it?

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win,” is the Ghandi mantra by which many entrepreneurs live.

As a kid my grandmother told me I was a good writer, so I second-guessed myself. Grandmothers are supposed to tell you you’re great at everything, right? Only when I got positive feedback from strangers would I be satisfied.

This post is part of a Startup Edition series on validating startup ideas

People scratched their heads when I told them about my last company. As a result I mistakenly I thought I was on to something. When entrepreneur friends told me most startups need help understanding the public relations process, it made me think the idea was too simple to be valuable.

Creating a place for startups to learn about marketing seemed like a no-brainer. Surely it had been done before, but as Dan Pink says, markets are not efficient. All the good ideas haven’t been taken. New ideas must be proven.

The next challenge was dealing with perception. In order to succeed in something you must be “all in,” or it won’t work.

In journalism school my classmates and instructors spent the entire year mocking the PR profession. PR is where journalists go when they sell out. I’d argue it’s actually BuzzFeed.

Sales and marketing is a noble profession. The world is full of needs. Great ideas don’t sell themselves. Founders love to build things. Beautiful things. Useful things. But selling and promoting the things they’ve built is where many stumble. I love to help world-changing entrepreneurs tell stories that will shape the future. I’m intensely passionate about it. Helping great people spread great ideas makes the world a better place.

And it turns out that entrepreneurs  aren’t the only folks who want to learn more about startup marketing. In fact, the best marketers are the ones constantly seeking out an edge. Hiten Shah once said that you must know the content appetite of your audience, and marketers are insatiable.

I thought that validating my idea would be the hard part. It wasn’t. Execution is always hard. A bad idea well executed can become something of value. A great idea with no followthrough is nothing.

Readers have come from 125 countries over the past 30 days. This blog has allowed me to create connections with entrepreneurs all around the world, which makes me feel constantly in I’d call that validated.

The hard part now is having patience. There are so many things I want to build, and so many resources I would like to provide to my readers. And I want to do it all now! But patience is a virtue.

For new readers, and those who have been here since the beginning, I’m thrilled by the surprises in store. With time, we’ll get there.

This post is part of a Startup Edition series on validating startup ideas

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PR Tips Podcast 007: Slow PR With Greg Galant of Muckrack http://prtipsforstartups.com/slow-pr-greg-galant-muckrack/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/slow-pr-greg-galant-muckrack/#comments Tue, 03 Sep 2013 06:52:35 +0000 http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=1578 People who think the public relations process is all about numbers have been severely mislead. The truth of the matter is that effective public relations is and always has been about building strong relationships with journalists and publications who are important to your industry and to your company. On today’s episode of the podcast we [...]

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Small Business Public Relations

People who think the public relations process is all about numbers have been severely mislead. The truth of the matter is that effective public relations is and always has been about building strong relationships with journalists and publications who are important to your industry and to your company.

On today’s episode of the podcast we speak with Muck Rack founder Gregory Galant about the art of Slow PR. Muckrack is a “freemium” service that aggregates tweets from thousands of journalists and shows you what stories they’re sharing and commenting about. Muck Rack sifts through the noise and helps you identify the journalists who are most relevant to your startup based on their beat, the region they cover, or the location of their publication. Muck Rack leverages Twitter to help you build relationships with journalists. Muck Rack is a favorite with previous podcast guests Erica Swallow and Peter Himler.

Prior to Muck Rack Galant created the Shorty Awards, which honors the world’s best short-form social media content producers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more. Galant has been podcasting since 2005, when he launched the Venture Voice podcast. Venture Voice was rated one of Top 10 podcasts for entrepreneurs by business communications provider Grasshopper. Venture Voice guests included, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp, and Evan Williams of Twitter and recently Medium. (Noticing a pattern here yet?)

What is Slow PR?

Slow PR is about building relationships instead of focusing on volume of pitches. Slow PR is about taking the time to get to know the reporters who cover your industry, who they are as a person, and how they write their stories, in order to be the most valuable and relevant story source possible.

Greg’s top 3 Slow PR tips

  • Put yourself in the shoes of the journalist. This will help you know what the journalists is trying to accomplish with his or her story.
  • Make sure that you’re a credible source for a story. Be sure to Google yourself to avoid/anticipate any embarrassing revelations.
  • Make sure you’re on top of stuff before you need it. Journalists are on the clock, and don’t like to wait around for information. Make yourself available to the press, and respond fast

If you have questions for Greg, he’s @Gregory on Twitter.

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http://prtipsforstartups.com/slow-pr-greg-galant-muckrack/feed/ 2 building relationships with journalists,Evan Williams,greg galant slow pr,Gregory Gallant,Jeremy Stoppelman,journalists,Muckrack,Muckrack Pro,Shorty Awards,slow pr,startup journalists,Tim Westergren People who think the public relations process is all about numbers have been severely mislead. The truth of the matter is that effective public relations is and always has been about building strong relationships with journalists and publications who a... People who think the public relations process is all about numbers have been severely mislead. The truth of the matter is that effective public relations is and always has been about building strong relationships with journalists and publications who are important to your industry and to your company. On today's episode of the podcast we speak with Muck Rack founder Gregory Galant about the art of Slow PR. Muckrack is a "freemium" service that aggregates tweets from thousands of journalists and shows you what stories they're sharing and commenting about. Muck Rack sifts through the noise and helps you identify the journalists who are most relevant to your startup based on their beat, the region they cover, or the location of their publication. Muck Rack leverages Twitter to help you build relationships with journalists. Muck Rack is a favorite with previous podcast guests Erica Swallow and Peter Himler. Prior to Muck Rack Galant created the Shorty Awards, which honors the world's best short-form social media content producers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more. Galant has been podcasting since 2005, when he launched the Venture Voice podcast. Venture Voice was rated one of Top 10 podcasts for entrepreneurs by business communications provider Grasshopper. Venture Voice guests included, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp, and Evan Williams of Twitter and recently Medium. (Noticing a pattern here yet?) What is Slow PR? Slow PR is about building relationships instead of focusing on volume of pitches. Slow PR is about taking the time to get to know the reporters who cover your industry, who they are as a person, and how they write their stories, in order to be the most valuable and relevant story source possible. Greg's top 3 Slow PR tips Put yourself in the shoes of the journalist. This will help you know what the journalists is trying to accomplish with his or her story. Make sure that you're a credible source for a story. Be sure to Google yourself to avoid/anticipate any embarrassing revelations. Make sure you're on top of stuff before you need it. Journalists are on the clock, and don't like to wait around for information. Make yourself available to the press, and respond fast If you have questions for Greg, he's @Gregory on Twitter. Chikodi Chima: Public Relations, Content Marketing , Sales and Business Development Strategist no 44:41
Hello, And Welcome To New Readers (: http://prtipsforstartups.com/readers/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/readers/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 04:05:42 +0000 http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=1274 It’s an exciting time here at PR Tips For Startups. Over the last 48 hours we’ve experienced a surge of international traffic, and hundreds of new visitors. Thank you for checking out our blog, listening to the podcast and for sharing PR Tips content with your friends. We love it. PR Tips For Startups soft-launched on [...]

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public relations tips for startups

It’s an exciting time here at PR Tips For Startups. Over the last 48 hours we’ve experienced a surge of international traffic, and hundreds of new visitors. Thank you for checking out our blog, listening to the podcast and for sharing PR Tips content with your friends. We love it.

PR Tips For Startups soft-launched on May 1, 2013, and today alone we’ve had visitors from more than 80 countries. We are so honored to be a part of your day. Thank you!

The idea for this blog was to create a resource for startups and entrepreneurs searching for actionable, do-it-yourself public relations and content marketing advice.The mission of PR Tips For Startups is to help entrepreneurs and innovators like you change the world. Our actions change the world in big and small ways.

Entrepreneurs are heroes. Entrepreneurs dream big dreams, embrace risk and wake up every morning to build a better life for us all. Along the way you are creating jobs, you’re sharing yourself with your community, and you’re giving the ultimate gift; the gift of hope.

If today is your first day visting the blog, below are some of our most popular posts and articles. They should give you a feeling of who we are, and what we’re about.

 My Biggest Startup Founder Mistakes

Startup mistakes

 

You may have found out about the blog because of this post. Esther Dyson says, “Always make new mistakes.” It’s only a mistake if we don’t learn from the things we do wrong.

Read: The 10 Biggest Mistakes I Made As Startup Founder

Five Places To Find Journalists Who Write About Startups

Where to find reporters who cover startups

Getting publicity for your startup is hard, especially when you don’t know where to look. Here’s where to start.

Read: Five Places To Find Journalists Who Write About Startups

What Do Journalists Love? Data!

journalists love data

 

One of the best ways to get journalists to pay attention to your startup is to tell unique and powerful stories about the world from your company’s unique perspective.

Read: What Do Journalists Love? Data!

How can we help you help others?

PR Tips For Startups continues to grow and evolve. We’re creating a community where entrepreneurs educate and mentor each other. We want you to add you voice.

Please let me know how we can make your experience even better.

If you have a startup-related topic you want to see on the blog, please send us an email. We love getting questions and feedback.

Is there a podcast guest you would like to see featured on a future episode? Do tell!

Would like to contribute a guest post? Please, please, please! We would be thrilled!

PR Tips For Startups is for startup founders and entrepreneurs like you. Together we’re making the world a brighter, more-connected and more generous place. And it all starts with you. However we can help each other, we must.

Take the first step, and submit your comments or questions in the form below.

Cheers!

[contact-form]

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Journalists Make Better Entrepreneurs Than MBA’s http://prtipsforstartups.com/journalists-make-better-entrepreneurs-than-mbas/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/journalists-make-better-entrepreneurs-than-mbas/#comments Sat, 13 Jul 2013 01:30:27 +0000 http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=924 I’m a journalist. I’m also an entrepreneur. Not saying I’m good at either here, just stating facts. While everyone looks to business school graduates to grow great companies, it’s journalists who actually go to school to learn the skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs. Kara Swisher recently said, “Journalists need to start being entrepreneurial like everyone [...]

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Why journalists make such great entrepreneursI’m a journalist. I’m also an entrepreneur. Not saying I’m good at either here, just stating facts.

While everyone looks to business school graduates to grow great companies, it’s journalists who actually go to school to learn the skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.

Kara Swisher recently said, “Journalists need to start being entrepreneurial like everyone else.” I would argue we journalists are more entrepreneurial than your average bear, and that includes MBA’s.

Why journalists make great entrepreneurs

Journalists make great entrepreneurs because of the cold realities of doing business. “Everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the face,” as boxer Mike Tyson is famous for saying. Business theory and business practice are two very different beasts. No one takes more lumps, and is more used to things going wrong than a journalist.

Entrepreneurs get rejected all the time

Rejection is part of the job

If you aren’t being rejected you  aren’t taking risks. If you’re not taking any risks you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re a manager.

Journalists put themselves in harm’s way and get into uncomfortable situations for a living. You can’t sit in your aeron chair and report from the frontlines of a conflict at the same time. You have to get uncomfortable to get the prize.

Nothing is harder than asking for someone’s hard-earned money.

Journalists make good entrepreneurs because we’re used to rejection. We take take rejection in stride.

Your customer is probably a bootstrapped entrepreneur or small business owner who’s risking his kid’s college tuition on new and untested products. If you’re just starting up in business then chances are pretty good you’re not selling to the Fortune

500, or publicly traded companies. Any hesitation to buy is because he or she is in the same situation you are–just hoping to make it.

Success in business is a numbers game

It’s a numbers game

There are millions of small businesses in the U.S., and hundreds or thousands in your market. Journalists need to find sources for their stories, but it’s rare that only one person is capable of giving expert feedback on a human event. If you’re counting on a single customer to make you’re year, it’s like expecting a single source to hold your story together. Not gonna happen.

When you’re on a tight deadline you need to find the right person fast. This is why it’s essential for journalists to have a beat, and to continually cultivate new sources.

As an entrepreneur your deadline is running out of cash. Whether you’re concern is making next month’s payroll, or hitting investor milestones, you need to have a way to keep money in the door. Those are customers.

While a journalist has a beat, you have a prospects list. You’ll blow deadline if you’re wasting time with prospects who won’t convert. Knowing whom to talk to is key.

Actionable Customer Development from Andreas Klinger

Journalists ask good questions

Getting in front of the right people is hard enough, but it’s equally important to engage constructively and deliberately. The best way to do this is to ask questions.

The slide deck above is about customer development, and it inspired this post. What jumped out at me is how it emphasized asking questions in the right way. As a journalist this is now second nature.

Journalists are trained to ask people open-ended questions. A yes or no question will get you a “yes” or a “no.”

  • Why
  • How much
  • When was the last time
  • What does it feel like
  • Who can…

Are all questions that can’t be answered in a word. Give people a chance to open up and they will.

Journalists wear many hats

To be an effective CEO you have to wear many different hats

I was fortunate to enroll in the Digital Media program at the Columbia Journalism School. While I was a student

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Pro Tools

were my some of my best friends. We spent way too many late nights together in the editing lab.

Techie and non-tech journalists are responsible for story sourcing, pitching, reporting, writing, editing and even a little self-promotion. It’s all in a day’s work.

Founders have to wear just as many hats. If you’re the CEO of an early-stage startup your job entails

  •  company strategy
  • Accounting and finance
  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Product
  • Customer relations
  • Procurement and operations

just to name a few.

They don’t teach you this in business school. And to the extent you are acquainted with the process, it’s another thing to be accountable for all of these activities on a daily basis.

Journalists are excellent communicators

Communicating with the public is at the heart of any successful business. You may learn presentation skills in business school, but to be an effective reporter is to be a man (or woman) of the people.

It doesn’t hurt to be able to write well (and fast). These are the essential skills of the journalism trade.

The ability to tell your story better than your competitors–and to the right audience–is what will set you apart in business. If you’re able to master storytelling you’re at a distinct advantage.

To be fair, there are only four graduate journalism programs in the U.S., while there are hundreds of business programs. And if journalists were really so good at business, the profession might not be in such disarray.

But on-the-job learning only happens when you’re working. As an MBA candidate you learn about working. As a journalism student you experience the real world every day. This looks a lot more like running a business to me.

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PR Tips Podcast 002: Building Community For Your Product–Even Before You Launch http://prtipsforstartups.com/building-community-douglas-crets-mircosoft-bizspark/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/building-community-douglas-crets-mircosoft-bizspark/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 04:47:27 +0000 http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=536 Community is something that every company should strive to create around its product or service. In our connected world it’s easier than ever to tap into large pools of people who share a common ambition, or a common pain, and to listen to their needs. You can start the public relations process early by generating [...]

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pr-tips-for-startups-badge

Community is something that every company should strive to create around its product or service. In our connected world it’s easier than ever to tap into large pools of people who share a common ambition, or a common pain, and to listen to their needs. You can start the public relations process early by generating excitement among a loyal group of early users, before sharing your ideas with the wider world.

On this week’s installment of the PR Tips For Startups Podcast we speak with Doug Crets from Microsoft BizSpark about how startups can leverage existing communities to improve their products, or to create a new product that serves a need.

Doug says that today companies and brands can act as journalists, and serve the information needs of their community with the same authority and impact of a media organization. But it’s important to focus on the needs of the community, and to avoid self-promotion. If you’re only interested in talking about what you do, your audience will quickly tune you out.

Microsoft BizSpark is a global community of more than 50,000 startups who receive free software, support and mentorship to grow their businesses for up to three years. In his role as a central collector and publisher of information for his community, Doug is careful not to be “All Microsoft, all the time.”

Seek to become a trusted voice for your community, and the people will naturally gravitiate to your offer.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Companies who incorporate community into their product:

Zirtual: Virtual assistants for busy people

Babelverse: The universal translator for spoken communication

Venture capitalists who do a good job of creating community:

Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures. His blog is AVC.

Mark Suster from GRP Parnters, whose blog is Both Sides of The Table.

 

 

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http://prtipsforstartups.com/building-community-douglas-crets-mircosoft-bizspark/feed/ 5 Babelverse,BizSpark,Both Sides of The Table,Doug Crets,entrepreneurs,Fred Wilson,GRP Partners,journalists,Mark Suster,Microsoft BizSpark,public relations,startups Community is something that every company should strive to create around its product or service. In our connected world it's easier than ever to tap into large pools of people who share a common ambition, or a common pain, and to listen to their needs. Community is something that every company should strive to create around its product or service. In our connected world it's easier than ever to tap into large pools of people who share a common ambition, or a common pain, and to listen to their needs. You can start the public relations process early by generating excitement among a loyal group of early users, before sharing your ideas with the wider world. On this week's installment of the PR Tips For Startups Podcast we speak with Doug Crets from Microsoft BizSpark about how startups can leverage existing communities to improve their products, or to create a new product that serves a need. Doug says that today companies and brands can act as journalists, and serve the information needs of their community with the same authority and impact of a media organization. But it's important to focus on the needs of the community, and to avoid self-promotion. If you're only interested in talking about what you do, your audience will quickly tune you out. Microsoft BizSpark is a global community of more than 50,000 startups who receive free software, support and mentorship to grow their businesses for up to three years. In his role as a central collector and publisher of information for his community, Doug is careful not to be "All Microsoft, all the time." Seek to become a trusted voice for your community, and the people will naturally gravitiate to your offer. Resources mentioned in this episode Companies who incorporate community into their product: Zirtual: Virtual assistants for busy people Babelverse: The universal translator for spoken communication Venture capitalists who do a good job of creating community: Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures. His blog is AVC. Mark Suster from GRP Parnters, whose blog is Both Sides of The Table.     Chikodi Chima: Public Relations, Content Marketing , Sales and Business Development Strategist no 30:09
What Do Journalists Love? Data! http://prtipsforstartups.com/journalists-love-data/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/journalists-love-data/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 11:47:39 +0000 http://prtipsforstartups.com/?p=386 Incentivibe founder Adeel V. recently asked me,  “What types of content can you pitch to journalists and the media that they love to cover?” Many people probably have the same question about public relations, so I figured I could turn the answer into a blog post. Adeel, I’ll give a short answer and a long answer: Your [...]

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Question mark CC Oberazzi

Incentivibe founder Adeel V. recently asked me,  “What types of content can you pitch to journalists and the media that they love to cover?”

Many people probably have the same question about public relations, so I figured I could turn the answer into a blog post. Adeel, I’ll give a short answer and a long answer:

Your chances of building a durable relationship with a journalist improve if you can offer exclusive, high-quality data about your industry. Data shines a unique light on how groups of people live.

Trends emerge not when one person starts doing something, but when hundreds or thousands of people engage in the same behavior. This can only be observed from a bird’s-eye view. That’s why data is so necessary and why journalists love it.

As an expert on your industry you’re in a unique position to tell the story of how humanity is changing and evolving based on how your product affects the lives of the people who use it.

Any journalist who gets to be the first person to tell a story about new recorded human behaviors is going to have a hard time saying no.

But it’s not a guarantee.

And now the longer answer…

There is no such thing as startup kryptonite.

Never has an early stage startup had such a brilliant story idea, a hot tip, or an infographic so mesmerizing a journalist absolutely had to publish it. Sorry.

Skepticism is in our nature. More to the point, we journalists have to be cynical (some might say jaded) to protect the public from bad actors. Some people will do anything to get their name in the press. What harm is fudging a little data to someone without scruples? Data is us.

Most tech writers also have a lot of autonomy to cover the stories they care about, and develop a beat. Editors support their writers, but don’t tell them what to do or whom to cover.

It makes sense. When a reporter cares about something deeply, and he knows it well, he will write better stories with more context, better sources and better access to key players and decision-makers. This means that journalists already have a pretty good sense of what the story is before you pitch it to them. But not always.

Stabilo CC plindbergThe power of exclusive data

This might seem like a problem, but it’s actually an opportunity. Because individual journalists care so deeply about a particular topic, you can pique their interest if you have unique, proprietary and exclusive data about something relating to their beat.

My VentureBeat colleague Dean Takahashi knows more about the Microsoft X-Box than almost any living human. He even wrote a book about it. If you had amassed unique insight into the world of X-Box and how it’s used, Dean would probably open your email.

What is an exclusive?

Exclusive is a word that gets thrown around too much, and you should use it carefully. Exclusive means that no other reporter has your data. Everyone else is excluded. Get it?

If you promise a reporter an exclusive, make sure it really is. Don’t tell everyone you pitch that they’ve got the exclusive, just so that spur someone to write you up. Word gets around, and you don’t want to burn yourself.

Why exclusives work

Journalists are very colegial with one another, but like any other industry, we’re also intensely competitive. For instance, AllThingsD reporters Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka first reported the news that Yahoo acquired Tumblr. The scoop, or the exclusive makes us look good in front of our peers, and that’s something we all want, right? If you can make a journalist look good in front of her boss and co-workers, you have less of a hill to climb.

The problem with infographics and charts

Datasets are different than infographics or charts. A prudent reporter will examine the dataset you produce and draw his or her own conclusions. An infographic doesn’t allow you this close inspection. An infographic is only as good as the data that goes in, and no pretty graphics or timeline will change that.

The other problem with data is that a lot of reporters don’t know what to make of it. We journalists got into the ink- slinging business because math scares us. GMAT? No thank you!

 

Journalists Crunching Number

 

Infogr.am to the rescue

Fortunately there are tools out there like Infogr.am, which allow anyone to make a compelling data visualization. Just for fun I created a quickie to demonstrate the proportion of journalists who enjoy dealing with numbers. It’s not scientific, but it only took a couple minutes.

With data in hand, anyone who cares, but isn’t a master of Adobe Illustrator can still make a chart that tells a story and looks decent.

Journalists know a lot, but we don’t know everything. You can help a journalist by giving him or her the ability to tell a story that has never been told. Proprietary data about your industry is a powerful tool in your arsenal. And always remember that making someone else look can take you places.

So I hope you find this helpful. I tend to prattle on sometimes, and it’s late, but I truly believe data in the right hands has the power to change the world.

Shouldn’t it be yours?

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Great Entrepreneurs Are Great Listeners http://prtipsforstartups.com/great-entrepreneurs-listen/ http://prtipsforstartups.com/great-entrepreneurs-listen/#comments Sat, 11 May 2013 15:20:14 +0000 http://www.prtipsforstartups.com/?p=320 What do journalists and the most successful entrepreneurs have in common? They listen. Entrepreneurship is a special way of solving problems and entrepreneurship demands a special kind listening. Where others hear complaints, and entrepreneur sees a fountain of actionable data. If someone person has a problem, he or she is rarely alone. Sharing that problem [...]

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ListeningWhat do journalists and the most successful entrepreneurs have in common? They listen.

Entrepreneurship is a special way of solving problems and entrepreneurship demands a special kind listening. Where others hear complaints, and entrepreneur sees a fountain of actionable data. If someone person has a problem, he or she is rarely alone. Sharing that problem is the first step in creating the solution.

Entrepreneurs don’t let problems go to waste

Customer development is the Silicon Valley term for solution-oriented listening. But it’s not an easy thing to do. We entrepreneurs can be an arrogant bunch, thinking they have all the answers, and all the ideas. But that’s rarely why we choose not to listen. Customer development means getting out there and talking to strangers. It means the possibility of rejection.

Why listening matters

People want to talk about themselves and their problems. All you have to do is ask. The closer you are to someone’s pain, the more they will want to talk about it. Remember the golden ratio; you were born with two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion. The more you listen, and ask, the more you will learn about customer need.

 

What entrepreneurs do who don’t listen

Often we choose the alternate path, holing up in isolation for weeks or months. And when we emerge we’ve built a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

“The market wasn’t ready,” some may say.

“Well who told you what you’ve built was a good idea?” is the reply?

“Me and my friends have this problem all the time.”

Your friends aren’t your customers

Listen to your friends when they tell you not to get a neck tattoo, but not when it comes to how to run a business. Their money and time isn’t on the line.

A dear friend of mine just built a horrible mobile app on a hunch. He’s brilliant, and has been starting businesses online since before he could drive. But the sooner he takes this project behind the barn with a shotgun, the better. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was wasting his time on a mobile app for “hipsters,” when he’s the furthest thing from that audience, but chances are he wouldn’t have listened any. Funny how that works, eh?

All the good problems have not been solved

 

iphone-converge

Somehow people think all the hard problems have been solved already. No they haven’t.

It’s funny sometimes to hear people question whether all the really hard problems have been solved. If you listen, you’ll hear just how many problems there are left.

The iPhone combined a music player, camera, phone, web browser and computer. Does that mean there’s no room for innovation in phones any more? No! The iPhone has terrible battery life. That is a problem created by a solution.

If anything, Silicon Valley has gotten better about making life easier and more comfortable, while solving few pressing problems.

 

Every solution creates new problems

Every solution will create unforeseen problems waiting to be solved by entrepreneurs.

Get better at listening, and you’ll see pot-holed streets are suddenly lined with gold.

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