Two years ago, me and four visionary women decided to organise a code camp for 100 female professionals who wanted to learn to program - in Barcelona. We decided to do this in our own free time with literally no budget. With limited resources we had to be creative. So we did what any normal and sane person would do - we want straight to the Swedish morning news show and told the whole Swedish population about our idea. We went on live TV news before we had sorted out the financials for our project or even figured out what the coding course would be. We had basically nothing except the grand vision. So the big question is, why on earth did we decide to do this?
1. Have Something to Sell
All we knew, was that we wanted to create a one week long code camp for 100 women in Barcelona. In order to realize this vision, we needed money. And money would come from partners. And partners invest where they get good employer branding in return. Therefore it was a bit of a chicken or the hen situation. Where does it actually start? Working super hard to try to convince partners that there is an interest for it, or actually go out and tell the world about the idea and show that there is true interest? We decided to put our bets on the latter.
2. Have People to Sell it To
It is not cheap to secure a venue in Barcelona for 100 people. So before we went off to spend the funds we later on managed to get in, we wanted some kind of indication that we would actually fill this venue up. Again, by telling Sweden about our idea we could instantly see that there was a huge interest for this event.
3. Save Time
Going back to the fact that we were doing this in our own free time, we needed to be cautious with how we spent it. Once we had spread the word about our idea, people started reaching out to us with ideas, suggestions and partnership proposals. Getting all this attention enabled us to move forward way faster rather than spending all that time making one cold pitch after another.
4. Oh We Love the Pressure!
We excel during pressure. What could possibly create more pressure on us to make this thing really happen than having promised the whole coffee drinking Swedish population that we were actually going to do this? It was going to happen, nothing else existed.
In hindsight, I realized there is one more reason…
Using PR as a Test Method to Validate an Idea in the Market at No Cost
When we were doing all this, we actually did not think too much - we just did. We focused on making things happen, as effective and smart as we possibly could. Looking back at it, it has dawned on me that all of this can actually be seen as something different. PR can be a tool used as a test method to validate an idea in the marketplace at no cost. There are many methods to test an idea in the market before money and resources is put into it, using PR as a test method is probably a less common one. There are pros and cons with all sorts of methods, and this will definitely not fit everyone as you need to be confident enough that you will truly make your idea happen. If you do have the confidence, then here's three reasons why PR could be a good way to validate an idea in the market.
1. Journalists are Excellent Devil’s Advocates
Journalists get hundreds of emails and phone calls every week, so they are on top of the latest within their field. This means that, if you can catch a journalist’s interest, then you know that you are onto something interesting - or at least something with a new twist. Also, you will get instant feedback such as “what makes you different from XX”, or “this sounds like XX”. This way, you may hear about other initiatives you didn't even know existed.
2. Test Interest in the Marketplace
If you do manage to break through the noise and your idea is featured in some kind of press, then you will be able to test the actual interest in the market. If you get a lot of traction, shares and interest then it is a good indication that you are onto something. If you don't get any interest, then maybe you should think of way to tweak your idea or possibly just package it in a different way.
3. Get Instant Feedback and Suggestions
If you are willing to share your idea, one of the benefits is that you will get instant feedback and suggestions. People may reach out to you with new creative ideas on how to make it even better, how you could realise it or how it can be tweaked to reach an even bigger audience. Obviously there are downsides of sharing your idea at an early stage, but if you decide to take the risk you could get exponentially rewarded for it.
So to Summarize …
If you manage to get interest from big news distributors, then it is pretty likely that you have created something that the market wants. This in return, creates a pull-effect in the market enabling you to decrease the time it takes to realise the vision. As a bonus, you will get other suggestions on how to make your idea even better. As long as you (and only you can make that decision) are willing take the plunge and share your idea to the world.
Lastly, never underestimate what you are capable of under a bit of pressure.
PS. This is not an article on how to do PR, that is a whole separate subject. If you do know it, or know someone who does, then this is aimed as inspiration on new creative ways to use it.