101 How to: PR for startups

When your company is a startup, ie extremely innovative, potentially disruptive and absolutely money deprived, getting noticed on your market is key. And PR appears to be the most obvious and the fastest way to reach this objective. So they say. But when, what, how and with who should you start? Here are some key steps to those meaningful questions.

Getting noticed isn't that easy on crowded markets and the first main issue for startups is double: a) there are many other exciting startups trying to grab the media's attention b) the David vs. Goliath syndrome makes it even more difficult for your voice to be heard when your market's incumbents have entire hordes of communication experts discussing on a daily basis with key editors.

Keep in mind that as a startup your company has inner strengths that you should leverage: more agile and faster to react, to name a few. So let's start with the obvious.

Define your objectives. Sounds obvious, right? Well, not that obvious, actually. Whatever you are aiming at, wether BusinessWeek's front cover (the Iron-Man syndrome) or increasing your website's traffic or recruiting rock-star engineers, implies specific media, a specific timeline, and specific journalists to target.

Positioning you company on its market is only a matter of being smarter: leverage the work that has been done by other actors of the market.
1 – observe and acquire the incumbents' lexicon: as journalists know it – being so regularly in touch with their communication hordes – they'll understand right away where to position you.
2 – observe and react to major statements / announcements: write a tribune, post it on you blog and link it to the announcement, comment on the initial announcement and link to your post. You can even propose your tribune to editors. They want to give their readers the big picture and a comprehensive presentation of it: you can benefit from this. Few tribunes of the kind will de facto position you and your company on your market.
3 – keep your communication flowing: schedule your announcements to make sure you'll be communicating a least once every 6 weeks.
4 – iterate.

Logistics is key in the communication field. Make your announcements easy to access to editors some of whom receive over 200 emails a day... ban email attachments and favor links to the resources attached to your announcement (pictures, videos, screencasts etc.)

It's human, baby! Build a relationship with the editors you discuss with. Don't hesitate to give them some unofficial information using the sacred “this is off, but...”. The “off” brings both parts many advantages, the main one being it gives perspectives to the editor writing on you. Even if some of the information cannot be used in his/her first article, it'll enable him/her to get back to you on other articles and it'll enable you to get back to him/her later when this information becomes official.

Leverage social media. Social media and online communication have brought many new ways to communicate and to get to the exact person you want to talk to. Spend time on forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc. and find the appropriate and professional way to get your messages across.

Here are the slides of the presentation I give to Startups. What do you think? Any other hints to share?


How to benefit from major industry events... when you cannot attend them?

Where were you last week?
Where you one of the lucky ones, attending LeWeb'10 in Paris?

Oh. No. You couldn't.

I can get that. But did you benefit from it?
You should have. Here's an example of "how".

As other key industry events, LeWeb'10 attracts hundreds - if not thousands - of people that, as a startuper, you must meet. I'm talking journalists, bloggers, VCs, angels and influencers.

But because your company's a startup, you have to allocate your (scarce) resources in the best possible way, on a daily basis, and to make a long story short, you had to (reluctantly) decide not to attend. Ok. Not THAT big deal. That would have been a major error if you hadn't take this opportunity to meet all those influencers and present your company.

That's precisely what I've organized for one of my beloved customer: Kwaga, the SmarterEmail semantic toolkit. We've organized a private tour of the Opera Garnier, home of the famous Phantom of the Opera. Key bloggers, influencers and journalists just looooooved it, and so did Kwaga ;-)

This opportunistic operation allowed Kwaga to meet key people and to establish relationship with them, while sharing a unique experience. This is exactly the kind of operation I encourage my fellow startupers to organize, think about, share and benefit from.

When you don't have the resources, think leaner ;-)

Do you have any other ideas of the kind to share? Please do so in the comments!

See the full picture gallery:


101 How-to: 3 Clichés about Homo Journalicus

Let's eradicate!

This is the first part of how-to get a nice article when being interviewed by the most worshiped dude of your galaxy: the journalist. Next one will cover the actual how-to prepare and conduct the interview.

Maybe I should point out that, as a communication person , I've been dealing with journalists for the best of the past 20 years (do I have to be THAT transparent???). Some are very nice fellas, and some are not. As in any other areas of our lives. My point here is to give a clear picture of the people we're (desperately) trying to reach to get the press coverage that will skyrocket the product/company/person we want to promote.

Note: feel free to search/replace "journalist" with "blogger"

Cliché #1 - Journalists are Divas
  • Wrong: they got bosses to whom they must sale the idea of an interview before actually carrying it. It takes them time and energy. I feel deeply sorry for you if you try to grab them when they just got their asses kicked by their boss... Or worse, by an infuriated someone they interviewed recently...
    Although I'm not saying that some aren't true Divas :-D

Cliché #2 - Journalists keep on trying to set you up
  • Wrong: they got that story that their boss is expecting (remember? they sold it hard, explaining why they should interview you...) and they're only trying to find enough matter out of the conversation to write a story - as interesting as possible :-s

Cliché #3 - Journalists are clueless dumb-asses
  • Wrong: you are the expert. That's basically the reason why they are seated in front of you, btw... So if by extraordinaire, the person in front of you doesn't seem to understand the idea that you're explaining, maybe you should ask yourself "why"... and try to re-formulate it in other words, with examples. Doesn't it sound wise?

Any other clichés that you can think of? Feel free to share!


This is not Rock & Roll, this is #irby

Some of you may know it, as I claim it and shout it quite regularly: I'm a rock&roll addict.

Cant' help it.

Not that I haven't try other musical style - currently discovering metal -, but my heart belong to R&R...

However, when I happen to stumble upon good music, I share it.

So here is I Really Blog You aka. #irby on Twitter

I Really Blog You by I Really Blog You

(you can download it and watch the video here)

It's fun, incredibly catchy and it's... 2.0!

The story behind the song is one of those very nice reunion that happen by chance with almost forgotten friends. Michael (@michaelbechler ) currently CEO of Webagoo (web site online services & apps for SMB) and Franz (author and singer) used to be best pals at school... 20 years ago.

After they caught up, they realized that Franz had fantastic songs and Michael decided to produce them.
I really blog you is a 100% web song, that'll catch you - Watch out!

If - as I did - you fall in love with it: download it, share it, promote it to your friends... Make it spread!



101-How-To: Presenting live - 6 steps to survive

Let's face it.
The cruel, naked truth is: when presenting live, we ain't all equal.

This second post of the series "101-How-To" summarizes a training session I've created and animate with innovating companies (email me if you're interested;-))

Being a decent speaker is all the more important when your project is really innovative and disruptive: the more innovative the harder it is to make a project understood.

The idea here isn't to compete (yet) with presentation Gurus such as Steve J., Guy K. or Dave McC. No. The idea is to give you some strong foundations to build a meaningful, understandable and concise presentation of your project.

Step1: Prepare Jedi-like
I know this sounds funny... but you know what: some people still don't ;-)
  • People you're going to talk to, know you should
    Google them! LinkedIn them! etc.
  • The comprehensive story, telling you cannot
    Define up to 3 key messages. Max.
  • Universal ability to get understood, as birth gift you received not
    Test the accuracy of your messages with friends & co-worker: if they don't get it go back to bullet 2 (secret: avoid jargon)
  • Your jungle landscape, perfectly you will know
    It's human: whenever you present a new project, the person you're talking to will try to understand/position you in comparison to what she/he knows. To make sure you're well understood, study your competition to be able to answer "yeah, we can sound like CompanyA, but unlike them we're providing so many cool features to this precise scope of population, that it'll blow your mind away"... See what I mean?

    (and that'll be it for the Yoda Touch)
Step2: Organize your information
Let's make it easier for your kind listeners to memorize what you're saying.
  • Don't save the best for the end
    Shout out loud what's really soooo cool about your company right at the start and then explain it twice or three times during your talk
  • Get your self a tagline
    ... but a concise one ;-) Not a mission. A tagline! Start and conclude with it.
  • Get yourself some illustrations
    While presenting new concepts, illustrations and anecdotes do help your audience understand what you're saying :-)
  • The Declare-Illustrate-Conclude Mantra
    Be realistic and focus. Truth is: you'll never be able to explain all subtleties of your project in 10 minutes. Pick out the 3 key elements of your project and mention them several time under the declare-illustrate-conclude mantra.
Step3: Get neat & appealing slides
it takes time, but it's definitely worth it!

  • Make slides that promotes listening vs. reading
    ... well only if you want your audience to listen when you speak ;-)
  • Make yourself a favor and buy "PresentationZen"
  • The 10-20-30 rule
    This is a hint from Guy Kawasaki: 10 slides, 20 minutes, Font size=30 pt

Step4: Identify and master your own Clandestinos
Get yourself a video to spot and identify things you could/should change
  • A (controversted) study says that the words you're pronouncing only count for 7% of the meaning understood, the rest being carried out by your tone of voice and your nonverbal behavior. Beyond the controversy, the idea here is for you to keep in mind that your body and facial expression say a lot, as well. (see: Nonverbal Communication)
  • The "fillers" hunt: er, hum, like, you know, well, let's say...
    when repeatedly used, the fillers can parasitize your talk. Spot them and tame them :-)
Did you know that a (very) large chunk of the people whose presentation skills impress you actually know their stories by heart? This may not suit everybody, but at least:
  • Write down your text and say it out loud
  • in front of a mirror
  • again
  • and again
  • and (got it?)
Step6: Survival Kit
Now you're on stage, this is D-DAY.
  • Listen thoroughly to the questions... don't interrupt ;-)
    a) it's not respectful
    b) you may not actually know what it is that this person want to ask you
  • Rephrase
    a) to make sure you've got the question right
    b) to bring the discussion to a topic you want to cover
    c) to help other people in the room to follow the discussion
  • Stay focus on your key messages
  • Read carefully the body language of your audience
    Make sure they "stay" with you. In case they don't, change the tone of your voice, ask them questions, ... manage to get them back on board.
  • Oh and: don't forget to say the name of your company (or project) :-)
Bottom line is: presenting live requires hard work and preparation. And is FUN!

Hope you enjoyed the ride! Don't hesitate to share your tips, to say you agree or disagree with all the above. I'd love to read your feedback on this!

See ya soon!


101-How-To: Write and Distribute a Press release

Sometimes I forget the basics.

Since I started working with startups, I've discovered and exchanged a lot on various topics, among which social media, PR, websites, lead management, SEO, traffic optimization etc.


And that's obviously one of the best part of my job.

However a bunch of recent work sessions made me realize that some of what I consider “basic stuff” and took for granted, actually were not.

That's why I've decided to start this “101-how-to” series of posts.

Here we go: #1 - How to write a press release?

  1. Title: work hard on that one, and keep it concise. This is the 1 second chance you have to grab people's attention. It should be short and should content all key names / topics at once.
    Example: Kwaga selects StoriesOut to handle its worldwide online and offline PR.
  2. Subtitle: Once you've grabbed the attention, expands the title with subtitle. Give more info based on the title.
    Example: The startup fighting email-overload wants to expand its international reach as its market traction is skyrocketing.
  3. Date/place: Do I really need to explain? ;-)
  4. Press release body: Develop your points in small paragraphs. 1 idea each. Use bullet points to structure the message. Keep in mind that most people "skim-read" press release. Make it simple to them to get your point.
  5. Quotes: If you add any, make sure they appear distinctively from the rest of the text. Use italics and indentation. Content of quotes must give an extra angle to the announcement. Prefer figures and real facts to emotions.
  6. Boilerplate: this is your company's standard presentation. It is the last paragraph of your press release and presents your company in 6 to 10 sentences. Again, work it out carefully and make sure to keep it up to date.
How to distribute a press release.
  1. Distribution wires: there are huge differences on these types of services, mainly based on geography and on the industry your company is.
    Basically in the US no one would email a journalist directly to distribute a press release but would rather use services from Marketwire or PrNewsWire.
    In France is it not that obvious. Even though these international wires do propose their services here, I find their reach to the IT press pretty poor. Now, there's another one: Hugin Group but never tested it. BTW, I would appreciate any feedback from actual experiences of it ;-).
    However, keep in mind that these services cost money and that prices vary with the word count of the announcement + the press target + regional target.
    The services often cover both distribution to information sites and to journalists. But you'd rather check their lists before committing :-)
  2. Free websites to post your announcement to: there are many of them in each country. A simple Google search would give you an idea. In France I found a nice post listing the main ones, it is here.
  3. Emailing a journalist list: few tips here
  • If you do it manually, use BCC ;-)
  • There are quite a bunch of platforms that you'd like to use for your emailings, ranging from free to not-that-expensive. My favorites are: iContact and MailChimp. Great thing with these platforms are the tracking and analytics they provide you with. It really helps enhancing your reach. Strongly recommended.
  • Put the text of the press release directly into the email. DO NOT attach it!
  • Complementary resources: Screenshots, pictures, videos etc. should be mentioned and linked to. Do not embed them in the press release itself, a) there are too many email clients out there for you to make sure these resources would display properly on each of them b) firewalls may well just spam your message c) it would make your email too cumbersome to open.
  • Post your press release online on your blog or website so that you'll be able to direct people to it via other media such as twitter, Facebook/LinkedIn status etc.
I think I covered most of the key points, if you think of any other please tell me, and above all, tell me if this post is of any use to you!

Any other topics you'd like to read about in my forthcoming post ? Tell me.

Let's save time: share your experiences!


StoriesOut - Week #7 to 10 - The trick is to keep breathing

Amazingly dense weeks

Well to be quite honest, coming back from 1 uninterrupted sunny week in Spain to find my self under the rain with a loss of 10°C has been pretty challenging for my fighting spirit... But the good news is that rather quickly business and activity took over. So here's what happen during these 4 past weeks.
  • Another product launch with Kwaga: Kwaga Context for Google Apps users, brings thread history and social information of email senders, directly in your inbox! Huge step forward in email productivity. If you're on Googel Apps, you MUST try it a) because it is amazingly usefull b) beacuse it's free ;-) - download it here : http://kwaga.com/KwagaContext.html
  • Bunch of very useful working meetings with great people: Sébastien Renault, President at ClubNet, Renaud Finaz de Villaine, Marketing Director at Micropole univers, Stefane Fermigier, Founder and Chairman at Nuxeo, Véronique Borel, Marketing Manager at Red Hat,
  • Biz dev was dense and tricky too: not always easy to find the magic balance to fit into budgets...
  • I did 2 videos for Nuxeo: Damien Metzler, Software architect at Leroy Merlin and Jean-Marc Orliaguet from Chalmers university in Sweden. That was quite funny and gave me the opportunity to use the Flip camera that Geeknius-the-Great offered me for my birthday ;-)
  • And finally I had the chance to attend Microsoft BizSpark European Summit and listen to a Guy Kawasaki presentation. Huge! Discovered as well Restopolitan and Captain Dash, two amazing French startups.
  • 20 check-ins on Foursquare ;-)
  • 868 views on my youtube channel
Montjoie Saint Denis!