PR For Inventors: 3 Common Mistakes Inventors Make With Public Relations
As “America’s PR Firm for Inventors & Entrepreneurs®,” we work with a lot of entrepreneurs who may be new to public relations (PR). Many of them are brilliant engineers! Their creations are fun, clever, and sometimes world-changing! But handling PR for inventors comes with a challenge too. They don’t always have the same level of expertise in marketing and communications that they do in product development and design. Honestly, this is one of the biggest reasons why the Orca blog exists – to help educate inventors and entrepreneurs on the PR process and the role it can play in modern small businesses. That’s why we thought it might be helpful to run through some of the common mistakes inventors make with public relations:
They expect it to be a primary sales channel
Yes, PR can be a big driver of sales. But that isn’t PR’s primary focus and it often can’t pull the weight all on its own. Public Relations is about communicating your product and brand to the press and public. It builds brand awareness and credibility through third-party endorsements – what we call “earned media.” Today’s media landscape is changing, so while this could still mean mentions in magazines or on TV shows, it could also be receiving mentions on websites, blogs, podcasts, or social media. They all will build your brand’s image, but they don’t always include a call to action, which is why you often need to take other steps to generate sales.
We recommend small business owners not put all of their eggs in one basket. PR success depends on the brand using multiple marketing channels to amplify the press placements, endorsements and features the brand receives. Don’t be afraid to brag about your achievements. How you leverage your PR can make a world of difference. Showcase your “as seen on” section on your website, social media, email marketing, trade show booths, banners, etc.
They hire a PR firm before they have a finished product
This is a big one that we see way more often than we’d like. Sometimes we aren’t even the first PR firm some of these smaller brands have worked with and they come to us with a bad taste in their mouth leftover from agencies that over-promised and under-delivered.
We are always honest – you need a solid product if you want big press coverage. The press will want to test it, sample it, and write about their experience with the product. It’s hard to generate buzz or get reviews for an idea or proof of concept (there are exceptions to this, like when you have well-known investors on board). We often tell business owners eager to start their PR push to wait until they have a finished product. You can hire us, and keep us on standby, but don’t have us start the press outreach until the product, branding, and messaging are ready for consumers.
They don’t give it enough time
Lastly, when we manage PR for inventors, we run into the case where the inventor doesn’t give PR enough time. You spent years building your product – why would you want to rush your PR efforts? PR is more of a marathon than a sprint. This is why we don’t recommend short trial campaigns. PR creates a wave of press and consumer interest that slowly builds upon itself over time. Editors and writers work months in advance. You should do a minimum of 4-6 months as an “intro” to PR. That’s an ample amount of time to see the campaign through from start to finish.
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