Dissecting a PR stunt: EXEC

This week, Justin Kan’s new startup EXEC is pulling off this awesome PR stunt: Rent a startup founder!

I will briefly try to explain in 5 minutes, 5 bullet points, why I find it so brilliant.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post while having breakfast. Didn’t get the time to proof-read it. I’ll do it later. Please excuse typos and other silly mistakes. I promise to get it right during the long weekend :)

1. Reaching your audience

They are targeting busy business people.

Time is money


I would say busy business people would be interested and actually benefit of an hour of mentoring with Tikhon Bernstam (Parse, Scribd) and Steve Huffman (Reddit, Hipmunk), right?

I guess Alexis Ohanian (Reddit, Breadpig) will also attract a lot of potential EXECs offering his tips to Y Combinator applicants.

2. Building your brand

Offering such a high-class selection of EXECs for this task, the company shows what kind of service they are planning to offer. They already have a ‘regular’ EXEC profile in their website, just to make sure everyone is getting the message.

“We’ve only hired people that we would personally want as our own executive assistants”


A real exec

Totally could be me!

3. Counting on your allies

Not all of us can count on Y Combinator Alumni network, but you gotta have something.

This is a reminder for you, working alone and scared to share your ideas. People actually help each other. Be part of a group and you will make wonderful things together.

Alexis Ohanian

Can't say no to this face... (sigh)

4. Delivering your experience

You signup and you have the full experience before handling them your credit card info or anything. Showing everyone how quick and easy is getting your tasks done with an EXEC is the main goal here.

The experience

Get your task done. Quick & Easy

5. Not spending a buck

Mentoring sessions will happen on Skype or by phone. Costs near zero.

PR stunts are not meant for profit.

The money is going to DonorsChoose.org.

Read more at:

Well done Justin Kan!

Community marketing: How to get it started?

Flickr, Reddit, 9Gag, 4Chan, Instagram. What do they have in common? These are community empowered business. They would never exist without the community marketing.

First things first, these are the goals of community marketing:

  • Connect existing customers with prospects
  • Connect prospects with each other
  • Connect a company with customers/prospects to solidify loyalty
  • Connect customers with customers to improve product adoption, satisfaction, etc.

Community focused business have the advantage of the network effect. When they reach the tipping point, they go viral and they are more likely to succeed. The down side is the good ol’ “chicken and egg” traction pitfall.

Community marketing is great. We love it, we adore Fake and Champ, but how the hell you bootstrap a community?

Continue reading

How to put together an event in less than 3 weeks with no money

We were looking for ways to bring together Startup Chile entrepreneurs and Chilean developers when the idea of HackSantiago came up. Hackatons are always a good opportunity to experiment with different technologies and start new projects and we thought that would be a great way to connect local developers to an international network.

Cool… But how to bring all this people together?

Ok, so:

1. I don’t know a lot of developers in Chile
2. I don’t really know where this people are
3. I have no idea wich are the the media channels around here and
4. I don’t even speak Spanish

This means it would me a very bad idea jumping into this project to be in charge of PR/Social Media, right?

challenge accepted

I decided to do it anyway, so I had to put a express marketing plan together. Something that wouldn’t take too much time, could get some local publicity, help us reach our target audience and, of course, completely free.

Step 1 – Work with a sample of your target audience

Find someone that fits your target audience. We found Nelson. He is a developer, he is young and hungry and loves hacking. Culture is complex and if you don’t understand your target audience culture, you will not get them to cope with you.

Culture is complex

Nelson brought some really good insights: Not all developers in Chile speaks English fluently, not all them are active on Facebook, some of them are on Twitter. And this is how we finally dropped the crazy (but comfortable) idea of starting our campaign in English…

Step 2 – Take over the internet

Register your domain and take over the social networks. Everyone of them regardless of using it in your marketing strategy or not. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr… You may not use it now, but save them for tomorrow. You never know…

Step 3 – Tell people you need help

You’re not a superhero, keep it simple. You need help? Ask for help.

Startup Chile, Huevapi, QueHambre and AndesBeat helped us reach important tech news channels like FayerWayer and other popular tech Meetups in Santiago.

About Press releases

If you’re not a professional copywriter, again, keep it simple. Say exactly what you want say in a couple of paragraphs and leave the rest for a Q&A in the end of it. You can update your Q&A according to questions you get from journalists and bloggers. And please: Don’t freaking put together some lame PDF and mail it to people. Plain text is fine, is search friendly and people can copy & paste it. You can even personalize it a little bit to every single person you send it to.

Step 4 – Pitch ALL channels

Don’t know how to find them? Here’s my tip: Check the big fish twitter acoount Klout Style. They always bring some other accounts with the same style and reach to the grid.

grid klout

Again: Pitch ALL channels. Of course you will try to score high but there’s no such a thing as a blog/twitter too small. Email/mention all of them.

Step 5 – Love and respect your audience

Don’t try to brainwash the with your message. Do your homework and find out what they like. Talk about what they are talking about, answer their questions, act like a real person and not a bot. This does not mean you have to twit “Good morning!” every morning. Everybody knows is scheduled, people are not stupid. Be relevant. Use elements they recognize and relate to.

hacksantiago write all the code

Step 6 – Blog everything

I already talked about how good blogs are to help you publish your news and keep track of all the press you’re getting. Everything will be archived there. It’s good SEO, just do it.

By this time we already had 25% more people signed up than our venue would allow us to have. Not a problem: You can always count on a 20% NO SHOW rate.

I win

In the next post I will talk about engaging people during a live event using social media, so… Come back :)


Why I don’t use Twitter for corporate branding

I have no idea how many times I had to explain this for people but on this post I will try to make it as simple as possible.

First things first

Twitter is an amazing media channel. It’s even more awesome for real time info. In the past months here in Chile I saw students organizing riots and getting support using Twitter. I’m on Twitter. It’s my main tool for personal branding.

Personal x Corporate

Just because I don’t believe a corporate Twitter account will help you market your startup out there (yes, your startup, I’m not talking about marketing strategies for big corporations, they have money and they don’t know depend on marketing ROI like startups do) it doesn’t mean you can’t use Twitter to get you more users.

Today, business is personal. We all cried holding our iPads for a week when Steve Jobs died. He was great, he inspired us and we spent tons of money with his products (at least) partially because he was awesome. I still follow Heather Champ on Twitter and read Caterina Fake‘s blog because I thing they did kick ass job at Flickr.

If your passionate about internet, you read a lot, you talk to people about it, get your ass on Twitter, build your personal brand and take advantage of it twitting about your company. It works, take a look:


Kevin Rose

The difference between Kevin Rose and Digg on Twitter is over a MILLION followers. And look at the lists… Why is that? If you’re a Digg fan you like Kevin. If you follow him on Twitter you will have a chance to ge to get to know what he is reading, his opinions about random things and maybe even where he is taking his girlfriend for dinner tonight. If you’re a Digg fan, you don’t need some random person to twit you Digg’s latests stories. You just check Digg daily.


Another important thing to build an audience on Twitter is to be in the top of what’s happening. The rush hours of Twitter are during the work hours.  If you only twit about your company or you only twit 3 time a day, people might not even notice you. If you twit a lot about boring things people will unfollow you. It’s a hard game to play.

People expect a dialog and it takes time. Lots of time. Lots of something you don’t have ’cause you’re trying to build a business, right? And if you have enough money to hire someone to do this 6/8h a day, let this person help your company in a more productive way.

My thoughts on how to use social media in startups

Twitter sucks on analytics. Look at this. Looks like a mess to me. I’m not able to figure out if I’m doing good or not.

Twitter Analytics?

You can do it, but you will probably need many tools, services, apps. And that will take your precious time.

… So forget about Twitter and jump into the sweet Facebook statistics!

Facebook statistics

Isn’t it sweet? You can find out wich days you were more popular, your fans growth, how many people are actually reading your updates, if they are talking about your brand… They can even ping you by email every time someone tags you in an update. It’s beautiful, it’s free, it’s easy to use. You can only check your numbers once a day.

You can share news about your market, your press, your company’s blog posts (yeah I do believe in blogs, they’re good for SEO and help you publish and archive news, updates etc).

And c’mon… Liking is easier than following.

Chuck Norris likes your brand!

Think in how many Likes you click everyday. Would you follow all this people/brands on Twitter? I wouldn’t.

On Facebook you will be able to gather a larger number of fans PLUS take a deep look on how they are dealing with your brand online presence.

So… Should I forget about Twitter?

Never! Twitter is an awesome tool. Register your brand on Twitter right NOW before someone else does.

Don’t forget people are on Twitter anyway. They might not follow you but, if they get mad with your service, they will curse your mom on Twitter ALL day.

This is the most valuable thing you can get out of Twitter: Customer service.

Let me tell you your story…

Twitter is an awesome tool. Just take advantage of it in the most productive way, ok?

Glass roof