Kelsea Michael Public Relations
For many, the thought of talking to the media can be nerve racking. But an interview doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether you have a national primetime TV appearance or a discussion with your hometown paper, there are some standard tips and tricks to follow that can not only ease your nerves, but also ensure success.
Whenever I’m training clients, I always make sure they adhere to my one and only rule for media interviews. Sure, I have lots of advice, but only one rule, and that is to communicate with honesty, integrity and transparency. It’s what I call my deal breaker, so if you take nothing else away from this, please remember the rule when you do your next media interview. Many big news scandals could have been prevented if the key players communicated with honesty, integrity and transparency. Consider the recent scandal involving NBC’s Brian Williams, which was solely about misrepresenting the facts. Consider also the now-tarnished reputation of Alex Rodriguez. His history of lying to reporters about steroid use has cost him his credibility and has all but destroyed his personal brand.
With that in mind, here are the rest of my top tips for working with the media.
Capital is the lifeblood of any startup. Because of this, too many entrepreneurs blindly charge forward raising money without understanding the importance of the process. Raising capital is generally not a skill that most startup executives have. Why? Well, for starters, fundraising is not something an entrepreneur does every day. It’s also a distraction from the important effort of launching and operating a business. A young company needs money and generally needs it now, but many entrepreneurs fall victim to the belief that four quarters from one funding source is the same as one dollar from another. But smart entrepreneurs aren’t so cavalier about something so important! Not all money is green. The sources from which you raise capital can make all the difference between success and failure.
No matter your industry or business model, there will come a time when you’re going to have to convince someone that what you’re doing is worth their time and/or money. You’ll need to make money by raising venture capital or angel funding, getting a grant that will help win federal dollars, or by doing it the old-fashioned way: making a sale.
I’ve sat in on and reviewed a number of presentations and pitches, and my feedback is almost always centered on the same thing: focus on benefits and not features.
You’re extremely close to your business. The features are important to you. You might sell a software for personal finance that uses a patented intelligence algorithm. Great! But anyone considering giving you money is going to want to know what that means for them. Don’t make them ask.
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Quick quiz: What’s the most effective way to get new customers?
- Social media
- Public relations
Actually, it’s a trick question. The best way to bring in new customers is to create an army of current customers who will advocate for your brand. Most of us know that people trust their friends and colleagues far more than they trust advertising, but many of us don’t know how to get those referrals. A new book by Peter Shankman, out at the end of this month, shows you how. While many of the tips in Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans (PALGRAVE MACMILLAN TRADE, 2015) seem obvious—hire nice people, for one—it’s surprisingly rare how few companies manage to do it.
The book offers a good reminder of everything you know you should be doing, but that you might be overlooking. Because hiring jerks—and committing other deadly customer service sins—could cost you business.
Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer
The Crossroads Venture Group, a leading VC professional organization in Connecticut, recently presented its annual Founders Award to Connecticut Innovations’ (CI) very own Peter Longo. The award honors an individual with a long record of serving the local venture capital community as an investor. With Peter’s more than 20 years in the industry and numerous achievements, it’s no surprise to us that the Crossroads Venture Group has taken notice.
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
2014 was full of marketing buzzwords. Many have been around for a long time, and many have merit, but good or bad, you couldn’t escape them when creating your campaigns this year. I bet you realized you needed more content, more of a focus on digital (or mobile), and a greater effort on social media. You probably set out to create content that was shareable, tweetable, digestible, actionable, and most of all, measureable.
Like most industries, the landscape in marketing is always evolving. With potential customers now having access to a wealth of data at their fingertips thanks to the Internet, our focuses have shifted. We’re creating content that educates and helps move people through the sales funnel (rather than hitting them over the head with a sales message). We’re showing them that we care about their problems and want to fix them. We want to build a relationship and earn their loyalty so they’ll keep coming back and tell all their friends about us. We know that delighting our customers and potential customers means they’ll likely stay with us for years to come.
So how are we doing that? What will we marketers buzz about in 2015 (and what won’t we)? Read on.
Amity High School students represent Connecticut in national competition
Program Associate, Small Business Innovations
There’s been a lot said lately about the need for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our public schools. Leaders have realized how important it is for students to learn these skills so that they’re prepared for the modern workplace. In my (slightly biased) opinion, it’s especially important for our Connecticut students. We need to equip them with the skills they need to become the state’s next great innovators.
Enter the “Real World Design Challenge,” an annual competition among high school students across the country that teaches STEM skills in real-life applications. Connecticut Innovations supports the competition each year, and in this year’s iteration, first-time participant Amity Regional High School represented Connecticut in the national competition after beating out other Connecticut high school teams.
But what does the competition mean for STEM education, and more important, the students?
Imagine, as a 14-18 year old, getting up in front of hundreds of high-powered individuals from aerospace, agriculture and government agencies to pitch a design that you came up with. Imagine also that your design is expected to solve a real-life problem that even the pros have struggled with. That’s exactly what Amity Aviation 1 from Amity Regional High School did!