15 marketing and communications lessons my start-up job taught me

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Me with Richard and Henry at Tallinn Hardware LaunchPad 2016.
We won the most innovative Hardware Startup Award there, by the way. (Photo: Mikus Kļaviņš)

 

Hey, my name is Aet. I work in the department of communications at SprayPrinter.
I first entered SprayPrinter as an intern. I wanted this experience to position myself more as a specialist in communications. Having graduated from Tartu University where I studied journalism and communications I had worked some time as a journalist. I also went to the Baltic Film and Media School where I studied audiovisual media.
At the university I was given the bigger picture of how to create an organisation’s identity, but no guiding tools as this varies from company to company.
I guess the most effective “tool” in our department is Sirla. Meaning- I can discuss ideas with her, say them out loud and get some feedback.

After a month of internship, Richard sat down at my desk wearing a concentrated frown.
Holy fact, did I screw something up?
Him cleaning his throat was when I realized shift just got real. He asked how I was doing and what I was working on at the moment. I answered, trying to guess whether something was wrong. And then he asked me if I’d like to continue working for SprayPrinter.
DID I?! To be honest I had two other job offers on my table, one of them was the very reason I went to pursue the specialities I did. But when I finally had the chance, I chose SprayPrinter. Furthermore, I have invested money in this company because I have the feeling I can be part of creating something spectacular here.
Long story short, when Richard popped the big question, I gladly accepted.
After the chat, Richard suggested getting coffee and I volunteered to get us some. I was so excited I literally walked against a glass wall with two cups of hot coffee. Staying classy!

Anyway, during my 3 months here I have tried out different techniques and I think I’m ready to draw some conclusions.

First, start-ups often tend to underestimate the power of marketing and communications. This is why I put down some teeny-tiny down-to-earth tips, so they could learn from my experience. In case you already know all this, well, that’s great. But from my point of view, there seem to be many start-ups in the process of learning things the hard way and I am doing my best to make their journey easier. Also, if you have any neat tricks I’d be grateful if you shared them in the comments.

  1. When putting out content, think about who approached who first. When a journalist sends you questions, this is the right moment to really push it and be confident and even slightly vain.
    On the other hand, if you are approaching a journalist, I suggest being a bit more humble. But still confident.
  2. Do not send PDF files to journalists without prior consent. If possible, avoid attachments and send links instead.
  3. Some simple applications might come in handy. For example, SprayPrinter being registered as a trademark in the European Union was a big leap for us.
    It was also an important step to share via social media (because we thought it was not newsworthy enough to send out a separate press release).
    So, the material we had was a boring piece of paper. To get the reach and commitment to our post, we made a silly gif with Boomerang and it worked pretty decently.
  4. Use quotes. Although you might have heard that a press release shouldn’t start with a quote, if you have a good one, don’t hesitate. So, get good quotes. If you don’t have any, ask someone who is an expert in your field for their opinion. Emphasize their competence in this field. Prominence also works great.
    Think about it this way – the more your press release resembles a news article, the less the journalists have to extert themselves. Make it as easy as possible to copy-paste your text . Don’t leave them guessing what might be newsworthy. Actually, try to assume as little as possible, make the newsworthy bits loud and clear.
    If you share an article on social media, quotes next to an article also work in attracting attention.
  5. Think of new angles for presenting your product so you could get featured on different platforms.
  6. Take loads of photos and film all events. You might need the footage afterwards when making an introductory or a crowdfunding video etc. Sometimes 3 seconds of video from an event is all it takes to make your video more dynamic.
  7. Illustrate your numbers. When we have talked about business negotiations with big companies, we have emphasized that their budget, for example, for one year is the size of 10 Estonian government budgets. Comparisons like this are easier for audiences to understand.
  8. Whenever possible add a picture or a gif. If you are at an event and someone is performing, take a picture and tweet about it. That’s how you show your company is also represented, it is more likely to get more retweets and comments. Plus, a feed that contains only material about your own stuff might come across as, well, a bit stuffy when someone first glances it.
  9. To make your presentation easily tweetable, use something funny, inspiring or cool in your slides. People are more likely to take a picture then.
    Plus, add your twitter account on your slides.
  10. Try to link together minor events or development milestones should they come across as too weak for separate press releases.
  11. It’s okay to share the same content on different social media platforms, just change the wording a bit.
  12. Reply to comments.
  13. Avoid hangovers. At least on work days.
  14. Have fun with your team every now and then. Don’t get too hung up on important events.
  15. Be careful with glass interior.
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1 Comment
  1. Utilize cites. In spite of the fact that you may have heard that an official statement shouldn’t begin with a quote, in the event that you have a decent one, don’t waver. Along these lines, get great quotes. On the off chance that you don’t have any, ask somebody who is a specialist as you would like to think. Underline their capability in this field. Unmistakable quality likewise works incredible.

    Consider it along these lines – the more your official statement takes after a news article, the less the writers need to extert themselves. Make it as simple as would be prudent to duplicate glue your content . Try not to abandon them think about what may be newsworthy. Really, attempt to accept as meager as would be prudent, make the newsworthy bits boisterous and clear.

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