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"Pitching, personality and (ethical) promotion" 2017

Guest lecture for the "Professional Issues" module at University of Edinburgh, taken by Computer Science and Software Engineering Students

Nicola Osborne

on 26 September 2018

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Transcript of "Pitching, personality and (ethical) promotion" 2017

Pitching, personality and (ethical) promotion

Nicola Osborne,
Digital Education & Project Manager, EDINA
How to pitch and explain your ideas

Promoting what you do:
how you can promote yourself.
telling a compelling story that shows why your work matters.
how to promote your idea, your work, or your product.
legal and ethical aspects
How not to pitch to a billionaire...
"Image from page 13 of "The Keif method of cutting coats and vests" (1899)" shared by Flickr user the Internet Archive Book Images / internetarchivebookimages
...is about tailoring your message for your audience
"Image from page 34 of "A scientific guide to practical cutting" (1873)" shared by Flickr user the Internet Archive Book Images / internetarchivebookimages
Be respectful and efficient with your resources...
(other people's time!)
Keep it brief, clear, focused.
Build your case around a couple of key messages.
Tell a coherent story of your work or idea.
Get the person/people you are pitching interested, (they can always ask more later).
Be ambitious - but don't offer things you can't deliver, or are not in a position to offer.
Be confident (even if you don't feel it).

The same approach also applies to...
Smaller Investors and supporters including Crowdfunding, Patreon, etc.
What does a great pitch video looks like?

What makes an idea or product appealing?

What causes the most confusion or questions?

Try searching around and reflect on what you find...
Selling your idea to potential project partners, co-founders etc.

Banks / Merchant services.
Press, media, and bloggers.
Influential users who may become ambassadors for your idea/product.
Communicating your product (or idea) to customers/users
... how your idea is different from (and hopefully offers something better than) other similar products or ideas...

... why someone should spend their money or time or share information to be part of your project - why is it interesting, worthwhile, good value for money...
Legal Aspects
A few key pieces of legislation apply to communications like this...
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/contents)
Data Protection Act 1998 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents)
EU GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation 2016
- applies from 25th May 2018 (http://www.eugdpr.org/ and https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/)
EU Data Protection Directive 1995 (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ALL/?uri=CELEX:31995L0046), including the "Right to be Forgotten" protections, 2014 (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/
US privacy laws (see: http://www.sba.gov/content/privacy-law) (see also the 2016 EU-US Privacy Shield arrangements)

Equality Act 2010
And also... Defamation, Libel and Harassment also apply online.

Best Practice Guidance
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Code: http://www.dma.org.uk/the-dma-code
The Association of Internet Researchers Ethics Guide: http://aoir.org/ethics/
Electronic Freedom Foundation privacy guides/commentary: https://www.eff.org/issues/privacy
There are a few ways to build your profile online...
So how do you start?
Recommended listening!
Some key mistakes highlighted: lack of research and understanding of funder interests; lack of clarity; failure to identify USPs; failure to anticipate and prepare for criticism...
You want to tell a story that sells your message to the audience(s) and their interests:

Who is your audience?
Why should your audience listen?
Why should they care about your idea or product?
What is unique and interesting about the idea?
What will be engaging, fun, energising for your audience?
Think about the questions your audience may ask about an idea, potential criticisms and responses.
"Festival Crowd" by Flickr user Shane Kelly (ballinascreen.com)
Explaining your idea to non-technical people who need to be on-board
"Journalists on duty" by Flickr user Yan Arief Purwanto / yanrf
task: plan a crowdfunding video
task: campaign and building community
"Show and Tell by Flickr user Erin Nekervis / theeerin
In small groups (5 or 6 people):

Identify an idea you want to pitch (2 mins to choose an existing or new tech idea).
Think about how you would shape your idea into an engaging pitch video for Kickstarter, Indiegogo or independent investors.
Your audience may not be technically minded, so how will you explain what your idea does and why it should matter to them?
Think about how you will get your message across, and why someone should invest in it?

how did that go?
How easy was it to explain your idea?
What was most challenging?
Do you think you could do something similar for your own ideas?
Do you think you'd be:
Why? Or why not?

What else might you need to do...?
So be careful about what you say about rivals, how you reply to customers/business partners etc.
Impacts on web design, communications, employment, etc.
Regulates collection, processing and retention of personal details - so consequences for mailing lists, contact databases, registration and payment systems, etc. GDPR is new and has
requirements on consent, storage (inf. infosec) and retention of data.
Protects your IPR rights but also those of others - impacts on use/reuse of text content, images/multimedia, etc. Has recent text and data mining exemptions. Can help you use and protect branding etc. too.
These are just some of the most relevant to communicating your ideas...

There are lots of legal aspects depending on your idea/business/organisation - e.g. FOI law for publicly funded organisations
Social Media
Ethical use of personal data
EDINA Social Media Guidelines: http://edina.ac.uk/about/social_media/social_media_guidelines.html
University of Edinburgh Social Media Guidelines (staff): http://www.ed.ac.uk/website-programme/training-support/guidelines/social-media
IBM Social Computing Guidelines: http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html
today's session...
Questions are welcome at any point!
Golf man sale #2 by Flickr User Richard Cocks / richardland
Think about...
And then try it out.
Pitches and short videos are part of a bigger mix of communication and promotion tools...
Remember: you can learn from others' success (and failures)
A website, a presence, some contact route(s) are all important for your personal profile, and also for your idea/company/project.

Social media are a great for building your presence as they:

Are go-to spaces for expertise and advice.
Offer engaging and authentic ways to tell stories, to engage in dialogue, to reach your audience(s) - whether potential employers, business partners, investors, or for building a network, or developing a community of customers or users.
Rank highly on Google, Bing, etc. (so they can be a good way to point people to your main web presence!)
Can enable direct access to key figures from investors to influencers and potential users/customers.
May generate media interest in your work, new collaborations and other unexpected opportunities.
Offer inexpensive ways to raise your the profile of you and your work.
For key announcements, releases, funding pushes, etc. you need a campaign...
Campaigns are about having a focused objective and creating specific "Calls to Action" (e.g. "Fund this" or "sign the petition" or "contribute to this project" or "ask a question").

They are usually structured around a timeline, key outcomes and SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time-bound) goals such as:

Getting an additional x new "monthly active users" or increased engagement.
Raising y amount of funding or income.
Launching a new product or promoting a new variant/price/option for an existing product to raise awareness and/or sales.
Creating a particular brand profile, or adjusting the message around your brand.

They involve a mix of channels: e.g. website, press release, scheduled articles or videos, emails to mailing lists etc.

At the outset think about what success would look like and what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will help you track that. Monitor, reflect, adjust your approach throughout your campaign, and review the outcomes and approach for next time.
What tools should you use?
Think about what works for your audience and your idea?
Code on GitHub can be brilliant, a Slack channel might be appropriate... Reddit AMAs can be hugely useful when you are more established. Or maybe SnapChat Stories and updates via Whatsapp will be more effective to mobilise your audience. Ask then what they prefer.

- somewhere definitive and consistent for people to find you (can be any web page, blog, self-built site, ecommerce site, etc.). Get a domain name. Use images. Keep it simple.

Mailing list/newsletters (e.g. MailChimp, TinyLetter, Google Groups)
- build your database of leads, contacts, customers, etc. Create regular content/schedule updates and pay attention to analytics on what your audience likes, engages with, etc. (see also: GDPR guidance).
Blogs, Medium, Tumblr,
- make your work visible, semi-formal, great to share development or working methods and progress, add context to your idea/product, build authentic relationships with your audience.
- share key updates that show your credibility, build a network around your work, find peer support and advice, track news, develop your own/idea/company's "voice" & personality.
Facebook, Instagram, (maybe Google+, possibly Pinterest)
- great for building interest and communities depending on who you want to reach, if you run events, which areas you are working in, and if you want to pay for ads/sponsored content.
- huge, brilliant for SEO, but complex audience dynamics and problematic advertising/recommendation engine, can be source of revenue as well as a communications channel. Very widely integrated into CMSs etc. allowing resharing of content.
Alternative video, e.g. Hyperlapse, Streamed Hangout,
- can bring clarity to complex concepts quickly. Well-made short video or animation can be engaging & sharable (Try live video - Facebook Live/Periscope etc. - but only if well planned!)
- Brilliant for building niche communities, not effective for mass audiences.
Measure, reflect, & learn what works for your audience and your project
For example...
the Trading Consequences Launch
Website updated with support information, links & resources
Branding checked across presences, URLs checked, all partners asked to check own details, organisation names & branding, project publications etc. via checklist.
Researchers, all project partners, engaged in press release drafting and approval process, including identification of key stories/possible top lines.
Press release drafted by Press Office with EDINA, final version agreed by partners and press offices at all partner organisations.
All data providers and funders contacted to inform them of launch date, kept posted on press release, sent preview of tools and sent approved release with permissions to reshare.
Final press release pushed out through UoE/Press Association
Press releases launched in parallel through each partner, and some data providers.
Launch blog post drafted for launch. Additional blog posts and activities planned as follow up to launch.
Hashtag publicised, all partners encouraged to tweet. Jisc prepped to retweeted project.
The Conversation approached, researchers co-authored piece for just after launch.

Resulting Coverage and interest...
Press: The Times; Metro*; Evening News*.
Blogs/reviews: Chronicle of Higher Education.
Arranged pieces: The Conversation; EDINA News; Yfile; St Andrews HCI blog; Informatics News.
Approaches from: BBC Reporting Scotland (feature); Edinburgh Evening News (feature)
Presentation invited by data provider following launch.
Extensive twitter activity, particularly from academic historians and researchers.
And substantially increased usage of the site and associated tools - people were clicking through from sharing and coverage to explore Trading Consequences visualisation and data tools.
All of this was captured for reporting to funders and project partners.

A quick health warning about promotion...
"tools of the trade" by Flickr user Various Brennemans / brenneman
Hone your content and approach based on your feedback, engagement, and success of your calls to action

How are you meeting your own objectives?
What are your audience showing they are most interested in?
Could your audience be creating their own responses to amplify your campaign/message? How can you help them to do that?
What additional efforts or resources can you share to help attract interest?
Where your audience is already interested - can you share behind-the-scenes details or progress to capitalise on their interest?
What playful quirky content is working well? Should you do more of that?
Are you getting a lot of interesting comments or questions? Does that suggest a new response (blog post/resource/video), offer/product, etc?
Are you making the most of what you have? Share successes, achievements, key developments or updates, press coverage etc.
Use tools like: Google Analytics; Twitter/Facebook/YouTube etc. insights/analytics; mailing list data and A/B testing; interactions (comments, replies, etc.)
"stethoscope" by Flickr user Dr.Farouk

Think about your pitch idea and some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevent, Time-bound) goals for a campaign:

What would your goals be?

What channels would you use in your campaign

How would you find your audience?

What precautions might you take to meet legal requirements and best practice concerns?

What would a successful campaign look like?
discussion: campaign and building community
What ideas did you have for your campaign?

Did you find it difficult to develop appropriate goals? Is there other information you would have liked to have to hand?

Did you think about how your campaign might fit into wider schedules - key calendar dates, releases, etc?

How could you use ongoing presences to build interest for this sort of campaign?


Spoilers: Season 6 of StartUp is out now - and there are updates from S2 & S3 on Gimlet's business model and expansion - well worth a listen.
(Also useful for reminding
what you love about your idea/project/start up)
A note on stitching videos together...
Some practical tools & tips...
Make a plan or storyboard
. (And if filming vox pops: plan and test your questions & ask more than you need.)
Make sure you
capture good quality audio
- picture quality doesn't matter as much. Phones, Zoom mics, headsets, etc. are all good. Pick a quiet recording space, check sound on headphones (better for monitoring quality).
Provide some context
- title, or branding or call to action
Use the tools you have
: mobile phone, laptop camera, screen capture, digital camera or video camera. With editing tools like MediaHopper, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, YouTube, etc.
Animation works well
and various free animation tools online or try timelapse with timed image capture with Picasa or iMotion or (easier) Hyperlapse etc. on your phone.
Editing takes much longer than filming
so much better to plan and reshoot rather than "fix in edit".
Only use music, footage or images you have rights to
- e.g. use your own work, or use & credit CC licensed works.
Clear simple editing and ideas work best.
By Flickr user gina pina: "My Aunt sent me this picture of a quilt top my Granny pieced out of some of my fabric scraps"
We have to pitch what we do (or want to do) all the time...

To colleagues within the University

To project partners and potential clients

To funders, decision makers and external organisations

To new leads and contacts at events, conferences, online even - genuinely - in the lift in our shared building.

Fun fact: 7 of the top 9 most funded projects have been the same for ~4 years (and the 2 new ones are both games).
A bit about what I do...
"Measuring Tape" by Flickr user Jamie/jamiesrabbits
"Measure twice, cut once"
Research the person/organisation you are pitching
What matters to them?
What is going to be the hook for them?
What could be a turn off or concern?

what do you want from them?

It could be feedback, advice, connection to another key contact, collaboration on a future project.
It won't always be about investment...
*Not as helpful as could have been – project name not included!
Full transcript