Want mass media coverage? Dumb down your story.

As a startup or small business, getting covered in The Economic Times or India Today can give your business the wings it needs. Investors take notice. Smart people working elsewhere look up your company. Team members thump their chest and show the coverage to their wives and girlfriends. You reach potential customers too if India is a part of your target market. Now, if you are in a sexy consumer business, getting covered is not difficult. Ask Zomato. Or those online lingerie people. But what if you are in a business your mom doesn’t understand a word of?

The thing with mass media is that they only cover stories that inspire, educate, entertain or piss off the common man. Your job is to figure out how to do that. Your job is to dumb down your story to fit the mould. Or sex it up, which is pretty much the same thing from the other side of the fence.

As a tech business, you have to be ready to take the product out of the equation and work another angle into the story. Was the company founded by two 16-year olds? Did you have 70 customers even before you had the product ready? How about having no HR member even with a 100-person team? The common man loves crazy. Was the company started from Shillong? Are you entering a game that Google has been playing for long? The common man loves underdogs. He loves drama. The smell of blood. Cleavage.

When I was at FusionCharts, we were able to generate some good press for ourselves and I will take you through one of the stories we created. If you really want to know, FusionCharts helps you create delightful charts in JavaScript. The common man doesn’t give a flying fuck about that. So what angle could we bring in? Turns out the angle brought itself to us.

One fine day we got to know that the Federal IT Dashboard, a project undertaken by the US government to track 600 billion dollars of IT spending, uses FusionCharts in plenty. How about we pitch that to the press? Interesting but no thanks. Just a couple of days later, we came across a picture of Barack Obama using the Federal IT Dashboard. Would “Barack Obama uses FusionCharts as a part of the Federal IT dashboard that tracks 600 billion dollars of IT spending in the US” work? 600 billion dollars is definitely impressive but what’s this Federal IT Dashboard thingy? Also the message was too long. After playing around with the language to make it crisper, we finally decided to cut it down to “Barack Obama uses FusionCharts.”

The story got covered in all leading publications of India. The press took the liberty of modifying it to suit their agenda as well. When Obama came to India in late 2010, we got to see coverage on the lines of “Barack Obama uses made-in-India FusionCharts in spite of his anti-outsourcing policies.” Over time, the story has gotten a little old but still no publication passes a chance to tuck it in some corner of a FusionCharts coverage.

Every company has a story. What’s yours?

Original Post can be accessed at Pokeandbite.com