I saw that definition yesterday in a presentation of a business plan from a student team in my class at Cornell University. They understand a powerful element in building your startup's unfair advantage. When you get it, you'll be far ahead of your competition.
Young people think advertising is how to announce your startup and spread the word about your cool new product. But that is not how things work in the real world. Advertising is used to reinforce a brand of a product that has already become branded. It is expensive because there is so much waste to advertising. New brands are build with public relations. Advertising reminds people of the brand you have already built.
Serial entrepreneurs use "PR" instead of advertising to spread the news. More specifically, they are masters of buzz marketing. That is what gets people around the globe emailing, blogging and text messaging about their cool new startup product. China or Chile, U.S. or United Emirates, they all are part of buzzing about new products. It is global. It is now.
The old PR methods are aimed at getting reporters to write stories and reviews about the new startup product. That takes time (magazines prepare stories three months in advance) and money (to pay a PR firm for its staff to call reporters and promote your startup product).
The new PR focuses on stimulating bloggers to start stories about your new product and spread the word of mouth over the internet. That is low cost and very fast.
When picking a PR firm, interview candidates carefully about buzzing. Influencing the new world of bloggers is a new art. Few PR professionals are yet experts at it. So interview bloggers to ask which PR people get it and understand how to talk to bloggers. When choosing, get your PR firm candidates to show you examples of their successes with influencing bloggers. It is difficult to do, and few PR staffers yet do it well. It is a work in progress to learn the ins and outs of the strange new world of internet media communications.
Be innovative. Especially about what you do with events to get attention. Event marketing has proven to be very productive for startup buzz marketing. Events can be one time internet contests or raffles (give away an Audi TT and you will get a lot of attention and a long list of interested end users. The cost of a car is less than one month of advertising.). Or consider sponsoring a charitable golf tournament for handicapped athletes (just supply your employees as weekend volunteers). There is no shortage of stimulating ideas to pursue.
Be worth talking about, excitedly. You must stimulate the "Wow!" factor in people. They have to immediately get what you are communicating and be eager to instantly tell their friends about it. This morning I emailed news about gentle robotic surgery to a friend facing brutal open heart surgery. Word passing is triggered by emotional stimulation. Even about industrial machinery. Yesterday I had graduate students speaking excitedly about moving dirt on farms to get rich. You must find out what in your cool product will turn on your targeted bloggers so word starts to spread quickly. If bloggers are bored, you'll not get far with your new product. It takes a lot more than "twenty percent less energy required" to get the end user excited.
Use real substance in your product offering to stimulate bloggers. Avoid trying to be provocative just to get attention about your boring product. Your boring may be able to be changed to stimulating if you apply a bit of creativity. Here is one example: shift from talking about the reliability of your manufacturing machine and instead move to talking about how it will not set the customer's factory on fire. That triggers emotions and the buzz starts.
BOTTOM LINE: Getting buzz marketing working is central to your marketing communications program. Key to buzzing are bloggers. This is the era of bloggers. They start passing the word along the internet. Find a PR firm to assist you creatively plan and execute so word of mouth is stimulated and goes to work for you. It is a lot more effective and less expensive than advertising. Serial entrepreneurs can do this in their sleep. It is second nature to them. They know its power and devote serious, innovative and determined time to doing it with excellence. When you can, you'll be far ahead of your competition as you build your unfair advantage.