For many inventors, self-promotion doesn’t come naturally. We invent. We build. We make. We don’t often promote.
We’re not natural marketers, as much as we are problem solvers. It may not come easily, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In this post, we’re going to show you five simple, executable steps to promote yourself and your idea so that you can generate as much buzz and excitement in your story as you know is possible.
Breathe, let go of that shyness, and read on.
First up… You Have an Amazing Invention!
You’ve invented and developed a brand-new product. It solves a major problem that many consumers face each day. Your invention can truly be a staple in a product line. You’ve mapped out your competitors and how your invention is different. You’re 100% clear on how your invention is better than other solutions and have a well-rounded grasp on why consumers will accept your product in their households. It’s branded, packaged and ready to go.
Now, you need your creativity to be discovered.
What’s Your Elevator Pitch?
Technically speaking, an elevator pitch is short enough that it lasts an elevator ride, and concise enough that it packs an impact upon delivery. It takes practice to arrive at your elevator pitch. To get there, start with answering key questions about your product:
- In the simplest definition, what is your product?
- What problem does it solve?
- Who will buy and/or use your product?
To craft your elevator pitch, you need to have a firm grasp on the basics. Avoid superfluous or hyperbolic language (think: The best! The only! The world’s first and only!). Stick to the facts and stick to being as concise as possible. While going through the process of writing your elevator pitch, you’re effectively shaping your product’s point of view. This point of view will be evident wherever and whenever you speak about your product – to licensing partners, to investors, to the media, to your parents, to your neighbors, on social media, in a press release and further. Nailing down these details is critical and being able to eloquently speak about your product is a skill you’ll continue to develop the more you do it. After all, who knows your product best? That’s right – you do.
Start locally and work your way up. You know your local newspapers, radio programs, television networks and blogs. How does your story and your product fit in? If you have a kitchen product that helps at-home chefs cook, you may want to pay close attention to the food writers in your community. What are they writing about each day or week? What’s their style? Have they written about products in the past or is it mostly restaurant and/or food and recipe reviews?
PR requires a little bit of sleuthing, and most importantly, it involves reading. Consume the media content you hope to be in one day. Take notes on the writers in your and your product’s industry and get to know them – even if it’s just through their work.
Map Out Your Media Goals
You may want to see your story and product in every media outlet imaginable, but that’s not entirely realistic. Outline your media goals and consider how you’ll get there. Read, watch, read and watch.
Begin with your local media outlets and start thinking about the top-tier national media outlets. Could your kitchen product be a fit for Cooking Light or Real Simple? If the answer is “yes” then pick up copies of those magazines and pay attention to the bylines. Take inventory of what new products they cover and perhaps a theme around it. Maybe they’ve gathered cooking products for dads for Father’s Day, or the best grilling accessories for summer. While we’d all prefer a standalone spotlight on one product, it’s to your benefit to consider the media-relevant angles you could pitch your product within.
Even if you’re not ready to pitch your story quite yet, you can work on building one-on-one relationships with writers by commenting on a story they’ve written, give them a hat tip about a topic they covered, and further. The media is like anyone else – they want to know people are enjoying their content and are typically open to feedback or input as it relates to the reader or viewer.
Organize Your Assets
You’ve nailed down your elevator pitch in step one. You’re getting to know writers, reporters and bloggers. You’re focused on your media goals. You’re about ready to pitch your story, so now is the time to organize all the pertinent details around your invention. This can include:
- Fact sheet and/or press release about your product
- Your company description
- High-resolution product photography
- Video explainer of your product
- The nitty-gritty facts about your invention: Cost? Where to buy?
Before you reach out to any media person, be sure to anticipate their needs. If you get their attention, you need to be prepared so as not to miss the opportunity completely.
Make Yourself Newsy
You’re armed with the concise, well-prepped details of your product. Now, you need to make yourself relevant and newsy. If you want a writer, reporter or blogger to cover your product, you need to help answer what’s in it for them, and for their audiences. The media won’t particularly care about your product because it’s new and you love it. They’ll care about it because it can affect their readers or viewers.
Before you write your email pitch, answer these two questions:
- What’s the “news” around your product? Perhaps there’s a trend, data point, current event to tie into?
- What are the types of story angles you could take?
Craft your media pitch like you did your elevator pitch: keep it simple, concise and straightforward. Introduce yourself, introduce your product, share the news and how/where you see your product is a fit within their coverage. Again, avoid hyperboles or superfluous language – writers are busy, so don’t bury the lead.
If at first your email goes unanswered, try again. Often, it’s when you follow up on your initial note that the writer/reporter responds.
With public relations, there’s a fine line between being a pushy self-promoter and an articulate news source. In my experience working with writers, it’s always best to get to know them. Following that, treat them like people. At the end of the day, you are offering them a pitch idea that will lend itself to a neat story or product to cover. Make it a win-win for all, and you will win.
Have you ever thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if…”?
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Also published on Medium.