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PR Expert Andy Marken Has Some Advice for Startups and FOSS Projects (Video) 43

Posted by Roblimo
from the getting-the-word-out-the-right-way dept.
This is a 15 minute video conversation with Andy Marken of Marken Communications, who has been working in technology public relations long enough to know what's what -- and then some. We had a pleasant conversation via Skype, and afterwords he sent along some excellent additional advice about how to handle do-it-yourself tech industry PR.
Andy Marken writes:

We talked about the designer/developer being the best spokesperson for the organization whether you have money or not (to hire someone).

One of the things we have seen, even when working with our own clients, is that we end up interrupting and "guiding" the conversation. The person being interviewed gets so involved in his/her product and they talk on and on about how fantastic it is, how it will change the world, how it has the neatest bells/whistles/ techie crap there is.

Problem is, the interviewer and the audience could give a rats *** about your technology, your expertise, your brilliance in developing the widgit. Tell me what in the heck it will do for ME, why it's good for ME, how it will make MY job easier and more fulfilling.

Clients often look at us as we go down this path saying to themselves we don't really get it and how darned neat, how elegant, how out-n-out beautiful this hummer really is. It is revolutionary and obviously you just don't get it.

We spend a lot of time with folks saying, "Folks don't really give a crap!" People don't buy an iPad because it has 10 gazillion pixels, it has a floating processor that moves ions around and does self-healing magic. Nope (and forget the Apple fanfolks) it is because it lets me watch my movies, play my games, sexily chat with my friends and underlings. It labels me as one of the cool people in the universe and will even stop bullets for me and drive more women into my bed!

Helping technical people step out of their own skin and get people sitting across the table to want, really want, the product -- hardware/software/solution -- is what PR is really all about.

It's not lying. It's interpreting what you're going to do for them... and listening to them so you can shape what the product really does in terms that meet their wants, needs...

And anyone can do that if they think in terms of the person they are talking with and not in their own terms.

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PR Expert Andy Marken Has Some Advice for Startups and FOSS Projects (Video)

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  • Well, obviously. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StoutFiles (2471680) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:31AM (#39402791)
    "Tell me what in the heck it will do for ME, why it's good for ME, how it will make MY job easier and more fulfilling." Isn't this Sales 101? I was hoping for something a little more clever than common sense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was hoping for something a little more clever than common sense.

      That is because successful business generally boils down to common sense, perserverence and luck, it is so simple that nobody believes you when you say it.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I was hoping for something a little more clever than common sense.

        That is because successful business generally boils down to common sense, perserverence and luck, it is so simple that nobody believes you when you say it.

        I think that to be successful at business, the most important thing is to be interested in making money as an end in itself. Most people aren't really, they just want to make themselves as comfortable as possible.

        I know if you gave me ten million pounds when I was eighteen, I'd never do a day's work again; whereas an entrepreneur would not be happy until he had turned this into a hundred million or a billion, and would work twelve hour + days 7 days a week to do so, even though he would never actually

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You would be amazed at how uncommon "common" sense is.

    • Re:Well, obviously. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Apothem (1921856) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:39AM (#39402887)
      Common sense is not common. Hell, it's considered a superpower in a lot of respects. More than anything, since when has ANY amount of sense ever been common in general population these days?
      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Common sense is a 10 point advantage, which is like an extra point of strength or 3 levels of DR. It's also half the cost of an extra life, but since it keeps people from being Darwin award contenders, it's a deal at that price.
      • "Common Sense" means little more than "this is what I think right now".

    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      best advice most of the time is common sense stuff ... People just forget the common sense stuff because they don't think about it, and someone has to remind them.

  • The man is the living embodiment of Ron Burgundy with the fashion sense of Dr. Steve Brule; except he is not in on the joke.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:46AM (#39402983)
    I have never heard of the guy. When I googled his name I came up with three kinds of links: links to his (or his company's) websites, links to articles by people who said he is a terrible PR person, and links to articles like this one. After reviewing the available information, I am confused as to why anyone would think he has anything useful to say to slashdot readers.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by busyqth (2566075)
      because they were paid to think he has something useful to say to slashdot readers?
    • Agreed. He is no George Lois.
    • You're complaining about obscurity on *Slashdot?* How many obscure articles about Ocaml, framework of the week, etc. come through here. What are they and why should I care is a question I ask regarding quite a number of articles here.

      • The thing is when I google those things, I get a result that tells me why they are on slashdot. When I google Andy Marken, I remain unenlightened as to why an article about him is on slashdot.
    • by toriver (11308)

      It's another Roblimo slashvertisement. Move along, please.

  • The most obvious PR lesson in recent history (and one of the more important ones to remember) is: "Don't Be Paul Christoforo"...

    further reading Ocean Marketing gets pwned by Penny Arcade [venturebeat.com]

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:24AM (#39404137)

    He's right. No customer gives a rat's ass about your clever [fill-in-the-blank].

    Moreover, they're just going to be pissed if you make them:

    1) Change their paradigm. The first response to this is always "F*** you!" AND the horse you rode in on.
    2) Change the interface because *you* think there's a better way to do it (Look at the warm, friendly reception Windows 8 is getting if you don't believe me).
    3) Make your software overbearing or impolite (hogging processor or memory, refusing to be uninstalled completely, interrupting, or not responding to something the user is doing as if the computer was more important than the human).

    The software industry as we know it today was shaped by 20 somethings in the 90s. Most of us are a bit older than that now, and the stupid arrogance that comes with being that age has to go. Mercifully, that seems to be happening slowly but surely.

    • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Monday March 19, 2012 @12:19PM (#39404837)

      Look at his example the iPad - the latest one is out ... it's selling like hot-cakes

      Why? is it much better than the competition - no not really, it's not even that much better than the iPad 2

      Now look at what most people do with it, and you find they could do exactly the same with the iPad 2, which they probably had ...but they will tell everyone who will listen how brilliant it is ..

      Most people who have one don't do anything with it they could not do with a laptop... but ask the same people and they will tell you a laptop is complicated and the iPad is simple... this is it's only selling point, but it's a big one

      This is PR and ease of use over everything else ... how else have Apple managed to sell a poorly speced, incompatible laptop with no keyboard or peripherals for more than the price of a laptop ...

    • 1) Change their paradigm.

      Isn't that what most sucessful internet companies to from day 1? What do you plan to sell if you don't change people's paradigm?

  • One of the things we have seen, even when working with our own clients, is that we end up interrupting and "guiding" the conversation.

    This is because we know everything. Also, because there are so few PR 'experts' in the world, our advice is like gold. If only our clients weren't such idiots, they could see our brilliance.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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