David vs. Goliath
You were small, the odds against you were great, but you took on the big guys and you won! Everybody loves an underdog, and if you can play this card, you might stir up more attention than you ever thought possible. An Orange County-based company, ProtectConnect used this strategy to publicize its buzzworthy invention — a modular system of safety-first electrical outlets and switches. The wiring device industry they’re taking on is dominated by just a handful of huge corporations, but the attention they’re getting as a startup for their patented product has prompted more than $1.5 million in orders — before the company even opens its doors for business.
First, fastest, brightest
If you’ve really got a story that’s unique — you’re the first, or the biggest, or the strongest, or the loudest — then you have a certifiably newsworthy story. RoseTel System Inc., a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of the world’s first streaming, real-time video delivered through plain old telephone lines, scored a touchdown with this angle in January 2003, when their system helped the city of San Diego maintain surveillance, security and order during the Super Bowl. The story became especially significant because on the day of the big game, the Internet, which would have carried other forms of video, was crippled by a global virus. RoseTel was able to honestly state that their video communication system was the first and only one in the world that could have performed so affordably and so well that day — and as a result, their story was picked up around the country from one simple wire release.
Rags to riches
Stories about the GWOG (Guy Working Out of Garage) who strikes it rich are still unusual. Steve Jobs of Apple may be one of the best examples of a rags-to-riches story, but there are countless examples of this. Jack Daley, president of the Triarch Group, a San Diego-based consulting firm that works with tech-driven companies to systematize their approach to innovation, delights in telling a rags-to-riches story from his own experience. His client, the company that eventually became Network Solutions (still the biggest registrar for domain names on the Internet) was started with a cash advance on a credit card and eventually grew into a multimillion-dollar monster. Now that’s a story.
Remember the ad campaign in the 1970s that urged you to write away to a major petroleum company for free booklets on auto maintenance, safety and repair? (Hint: The booklets were yellow, and the logo is still red. Looks a bit like … a seashell.) School children across America learned to write “business letters” by carefully printing “Dear Sir” requests to that company, and even 30 years later, people remember the company’s generosity with a warm, fuzzy feeling. You can’t beat free advice for building trust.
Did you know?
You can assert all you want. But numbers make it real. Research — real, proprietary research, carried out by you, with numbers that you own –can be a great way to get attention. San Diego-based Metabolife Inc. just wrapped up a year-long research initiative that resulted in mentions and stories in several national publications. What did they do? They got numbers, and they used them. Did you know that 47 percent of people say everyone is out of shape at their high school reunion? Metabolife did the studies, found the numbers, then turned the statistics into a great opportunity for publicity.