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

Roblimo posted more than 2 years ago | from the getting-the-word-out-the-right-way dept.

Businesses 43

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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43 comments

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slashvertisement again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402673)

fuck you !

tl;dw: PR sucks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402749)

FP is what counts!

Well, obviously. (4, Insightful)

StoutFiles (2471680) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Well, obviously. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402879)

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.

Re:Well, obviously. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411823)

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 be able to spend the extra money.

Re:Well, obviously. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402881)

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

Re:Well, obviously. (3, Informative)

Apothem (1921856) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Well, obviously. (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403387)

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.

Re:Well, obviously. (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39404123)

"Common Sense" means little more than "this is what I think right now".

Re:Well, obviously. (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402987)

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.

My observations of Andy Marken from meetings (1, Flamebait)

MasterHundinco (2012818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402885)

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.

Re:My observations of Andy Marken from meetings (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402977)

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.

The joke is that he's getting paid to dress like a cartoon character and tell people this shit, and you aren't.

Re:My observations of Andy Marken from meetings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39406807)

yo

I don't have flash you insensitive clod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402967)

Is there an html5 version?

wow! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402973)

... roblimo is like a total geezer

Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (1, Troll)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403039)

because they were paid to think he has something useful to say to slashdot readers?

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403267)

I also hate interviews like this where the interviewer is talking all the time. Just ask a question and let them answer! No "OK, yes, um's and ah's" by the person who asked the question... And not too much back and forth dialog. So annoying.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403515)

Why not focus on the content rather than question his credibility? Idiot. -- See what I did there.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (1)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39404321)

Haha what content???

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (0)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403605)

Agreed. He is no George Lois.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39404053)

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.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39404379)

As someone reading this site for around 11 years now: not that very stories have been about Ocaml.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39405165)

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.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (2)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39404685)

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

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410209)

Roblimo should at least shut the fuck up. Every time he opens his mouth he sounded like a knob. I can't help but get the impression that the guy he's interviewing was only being polite in not saying anything. In fact I think you can kind of even see an involuntary body language version of a wince.

Re:Who is Andy Marken and why should I care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39405613)

Who are you and why should we care? You seem to think your rather obnoxious opinion is worthy of our attention. If you don't want his advice then ignore it. I wish I had the willpower to have exercised the same discretion with your "contribution".

RTFM! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403259)

Don't RTFA. RTFM!

Commercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403351)

The Ad before the video was about dealing food at stock exchanges.

That is worse than gassing people.

No offense, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403459)

I don't mean to be rude or ungrateful here, but since when do we care about PR? This isn't HackerNews or Mashable or Venturebeat where a bunch of MBA-wannabe-Mark-Zuckerbergs sit around jerking each other off while we dream up grand ideas that we will put into action as soon as we sucker some "useless coder" to do the actual work for us super cheap.

Re:No offense, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403639)

This reminds me of listening to AM talk radio on the weekends, when a show comes on and for about fifteen minutes, it's some "talk show host" interviewing a "medical expert" about some magic pill and it takes people a few minutes to realize it's not a show the station does, but is just a long-form infomercial.

I'm sure this gentleman is a swell guy, but if this was a legitimate interview, surely Slashdot could find a big-name with a ton of high tech industry PR experience to do a solid interview with? Everything about this just screams advertising.

Job interviews and your career (2)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39405873)

A lot of points that make good PR are also helpful when faced with a job interview or otherwise advancing your career. Consider yourself as "the product" in the quote below:

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...

A lot of the art of job interviewing is understanding the wants and needs of the interviewer, and presenting yourself as the solution, in terms that the interviewer understands. Once you get hired, establishing and maintaining your reputation involves many of the same PR skills.

I mean, there's a reason we speak of a "Ford Lincoln Mercury Sable [imdb.com] ", and not a "personal conveyance named after its inventor, an assassinated ruler, a character from Greco-Roman myth and a small furry mammal." Both are true, but. . . .

Re:No offense, but... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411921)

Your post reminded me to take a look at Mashable after it was in the news recently. What a waste of fucking space-time. I'm reminded of the Chris Morris show Nathan Barley

If Mashable were a person, it would work in advertising, have an ironic moustache/beard and be fashionably allergic to some badic foodstuff.

I'm surprised you can access the site using a non-iOS device.

TL; DR (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403545)

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]

Salesmen always selling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403607)

First thing he's got to sell is himself. "Knows what's what and then some" or something like that. Didn't RTFA, so funnily enough I've just walked out of the store. No sale.

hi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403623)

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He's 100% correct, regardless... (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:He's 100% correct, regardless... (3, Insightful)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#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 ...

Re:He's 100% correct, regardless... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39405365)

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?

Hit And Miss (What did this have to do with FOSS?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39405001)

Some very excellent advice mixed with some possibly bad advice.

Extreme customer service is ultimately a bad business model, for instance. It fosters excessive hand-holding and while it can forge strong relationships, this approach is viable only for high-margin scenarios.

What did this video have to do with FOSS? Was it just put in the title here because of the nature of this site?

It's not April 1st yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39405061)

I think someone pushed the "publish" button too early on this one. Wait until April 1st to unleash jokes like this.

Huh (1)

DuranDuran (252246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39408351)

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.

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