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How to Build ‘Cool’ into Your Company

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Take the time to study the companies that made Fortune magazine’s new list of the Cool Companies for 2004. Each has built newsworthiness into its product. And that is a major advantage for them in the marketplace.

By building newsworthiness right into the product, none of these companies has to dream up a publicity campaign. Each product is already “cool,” and therefore newsworthy by default. None of these 14 companies will have any problem generating news about itself.

Most companies and their PR teams start off with a product that is already designed and ready for production and sale. Only then do they start to think, “How can we make this product newsworthy?”

Whether intentionally or not, each of Fortune’s Cool Companies is starting out with a product that is already newsworthy. All they have to do is connect their story with the right reporters.

The PR Rainmaker knows: There is no better time to think about newsworthiness than when designing your product or service.

If you can create something cool, you will have no problem getting the news media to cover it. And thus you will have no problem attracting new customers and clients.

This is a crucial point, because the goal of all PR Rainmaking is to make a product, a service or a company newsworthy. We have to find some way to make our company cool and thus interesting to a journalist.

The knee-jerk reaction to the Fortune list is to say, “Well, all these companies are in hot industries, like nanotech, biotech and communications.”

But look closer. One is in textiles. Another is in energy. Yet another is in security. How dull can you get?

So what is the secret of success they all share?

Each of these 14 companies offers a simple but cutting-edge concept that can be expressed with a descriptive “catch phrase” that rolls off the tongue.

Ember makes “smart dust”

Saegis is seeking a “Viagra of the brain.”

Noble Fiber makes “heat-beating fabrics.”

PolyFuel makes “fuel-cell membranes.”

Quantum Dot makes “nanocrystals.”

You get the idea.

There is nothing easy about coming up with a phrase that is both accurate and catchy. (If you’ve ever sat in a room with the founders of a high tech start-up, and asked them to explain in simple terms what their product does, you know what I mean.)

But a well-honed catch phrase will pay enormous dividends down the road. The phrase gives the news media a handle that allows them to get a grip on your story. Better yet, a good phrase will be repeated again and again and again in the news media. And that can resonate in the minds of potential customers.

How do you come up with such a phrase? You could hire a marketing firm to do it for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the best way is to simply keep an ear open as your company develops your product.

Listen carefully to how your innovators – your engineers, your technologists and your scientists – talk about your product among themselves. Eventually, they will develop a shorthand language that describes their work. They have to if they are going to communicate with any speed at all.

Listen, listen, listen. Do it as unobtrusively as you can. And when you hear the “phrase that pays,” pounce upon it.

It’s the guys in the lab who come up with a phrase like “smart dust,” not the marketing folks.

Copyright 2004 by W.O. Cawley Jr.

Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who now coaches executives, professionals and entrepreneurs on news strategy. He is the author of PR Rainmaker: Three Simple Rules for Using the News Media to Attract New Customers and Clients, available at amazon.com. To learn more about PR Rainmaking, visit http://www.prrainmaker.com/dailyblog.html.

How to Build ‘Cool’ into Your Company
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About Rusty Cawley
Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who now coaches executives, professionals and entrepreneurs on news strategy. He is the author of PR Rainmaker: Three Simple Rules for Using the News Media to Attract New Customers and Clients, available at amazon.com. To learn more about PR Rainmaking, visit http://www.prrainmaker.com/dailyblog.html. WebProNews Writer
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