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July 26, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Exploring Public Relations in the Inventor Community with Andrea Pass - 877-728-7763

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Happy Friday. Andrea, how are you?

Very good. Thank you for having me, John.

Good. Thank you. I'm so excited because we have a lot of inventors on, ask the patent professor and we have q&a. But somebody that that actually helps inventors with getting publicity. That's that's something we don't see that often. There are a lot of publicists, but very few of them have a niche that is helpful to people trying to develop products. So with that said, Welcome, everybody. Happy Friday. It's my great pleasure to introduce Andrea pass. And as the patent professor, I can see, I give her a pass. So

thank you. Yes. Oh, as for

her help with inventors, she's presented before the patent office at invention, con. She's a member of the UIA, the United inventors Association, she can talk more about that. And before we get too far, and before, I really have her start, I just want to flip through very quickly, some of the products that some of you might even be familiar with, because they're there, a lot of them are doing incredibly well, that Andrea has gotten publicity for, like, these are products that are all out there, they're on the market. And it all starts with, with getting the word out and getting publicity. And she can talk more about that. But these are just some I'll flip through very quickly. And then without further delay, Andrea, it's, it's all yours. Welcome to the show.

Thank you. So thank you so much for having me, I think, you know, the most important thing in public relations is getting earned media coverage. And I think that a lot of inventors don't recognize the value of having a plan, a marketing plan and public relations as part of that marketing plan. So really, I say to inventors, into your audience, the most important thing is, the product has to be ready, you can't start a PR program if the product doesn't exist. So you need a website, you need active social media pages, and you need a way for your audience to purchase the product. You can't say okay, we'll ship this to you in four months. Today's world, right? We want everything immediately. I mean, who which one of us doesn't subscribe to prime. We want everything that next day, we're not waiting months and months for something. And so you have to be ready, before you initiate a public relations program. But a public relations program is going to give you that earned media content to be able to share because the press is going to be giving you third party editorial endorsement, they're going to review your product, right about your product, interview you as an inventor, so you need to be ready, and the product has to be ready, or else you're not ready for PR.

Yeah, it's so it's interesting, because the perspective of getting PR is almost what you're teaching inventors is, is phenomenal for PR, but it goes against everything I teach them for protecting their intellectual property. So for inventors, you want to protect your intellectual property. As soon as you have the idea. You don't want to wait for a prototype. And you absolutely do not want a website because you're unprotected. Somebody put it online and someone else will file first, the US is on a first to file system. So it's nice for them to hear different perspectives because Oh, go ahead,

I was gonna say and it really you do have to have your patent first, you can't tell the whole world about your product and expect it to be safe. And I always say to inventors, start with a provisional patent, get a patent, protect yourself, because I've been at enough of these trade shows over the years that inventors have a booth at and they're taking their part of product apart in front of someone who might be videotaping on their cell phone. And at one point I was at a conference in in Pittsburgh and it was an inventor, I knew he had a great gadget to help you melt cheese in your microwave so it wouldn't get clumpy. Because how many times do you melt cheese and it's like Colombian? Yeah. So he had this great product. I had met him at a previous conference, and I'm watching him take the product apart. While a gentleman stood there videotaping him, wasn't a press person. It was a person attending the conference. And afterwards I went over and he said, Oh my gosh, Andrea, it's so good to see you again. I said, Did you get the patent we discussed you Months ago, or whatever it was, and he says, Not yet I said, Do you realize you just gave your product to someone, you took it apart and show them how you put it together? Thank God. And he said, I didn't think of it that way, they were so excited about my product, I said, Yes, and most likely, they are going to steal your idea now, and it's not patented, so you're not protected. So have the patent be protected. So you go to John first. That's, that's really what inventors need to understand, you have to be protected. Because the press is going to put it out there. Put your website, put your social media pages, put images. And if you're not protected, and if you have a great idea, it's going to be stolen, it's going to be copied, it's the nature of request. So pretty.

I mean, if nobody wants to copy it, then that's a sign that, that you might not have found something that's in demand. So you're right, it's the great ideas, those are the ones that that are the most likely to be stolen, right, the better the idea, the more likely you are to have people copying. But the I mean, it's interesting, because for an inventor, that they are looking for validation that the idea that somebody else sees the need, so it's very hard psychologically, to keep it under wraps. And for years under the US patent system, that was fine, because the US Patent Office awarded patents on a first to invent basis until 2013. So as long as you invented first, as in, you could prove your date of conception and that you were diligent, you didn't abandon the idea. It was okay to discuss it. openly, it was still risky, but you still had a fighting chance, if you could prove that you are the the inventor. Now in 2013. That's the single biggest change in US patent law. In this century, the United States went from a first to invent system to first file and then the first file, the only thing that matters is who got that application in earliest. And if you have an invention that has potential, the moment you start disclosing it publicly, you run the risk that if someone sees the potential and they file the application first, you've lost all rights to it. So I can't, it's so nice to have.

And I echo those sentiments, because that that's really what's important. And I know everyone loves the glory of their 15 minutes. I mean, who doesn't who doesn't want to be featured in a newspaper or a magazine or radio, TV show a podcast? I mean, you know, especially in vendors, they have a story, because with an inventor, you've put in your blood, sweat, tears, heart soul into this product, right? But you have to be careful that you're doing it the right way. I had a conversation the other week with someone and I didn't understand her product. And I said, I'm very confused. I don't understand it. And she repeated her tagline. And I said, I, I still don't get it. What does it do? So there's got to be an easy understanding of what your product does. What's the problem it solves? What's the target audience, not every product is going to be for a mass audience. Some products might be for a very targeted audience. But you have to be able to easily explain what it does. And if you're busy showing diagrams and pictures, and it's complicated, the amount of consumers who might purchase your product is probably very small. Because it's complicated. And we want simplicity in our lives. We want products that are going to benefit us but are easy to use or easy to learn. So be sure that you have something do your homework and see is there an audience for this particular product? What are my favorite stories? You want to hear a fun one? Oh, yeah. Okay. A few years ago, I was doing a pitch event with a client and as seen on TV marketer, and we had people coming in a lot Shark Tank, Shark Tank kind of pitch. And a woman came in with a bird feeder for hummingbirds. And the panel asked her, so how many hummingbird enthusiast are there? And she said 1500. And, okay, this isn't a dog or a cat. So therefore, a major marketing company is not going to invest in a product that if it reaches everyone would reach 1500 people. An average company wants to sell millions of a product. And she she got it. She was very sad. But we said to her, go back, sell this on your own. And make sure you're connecting with all of the organizations of hummingbird enthusiast and all of the social media, that hummingbird enthusiast follow. And she went she did that and that's okay. There's going to be different audiences for different products. If you have a pet product For a dog or a cat, you have a wide audience, you have a Home and Garden product. Most people who live in a home, do have a garden. If you have a cooking product, most of America cooks. So that's a great thing to have. So looking at beauty products, hair and skin products, I mean, these are all things that there are mass audiences, even sporting equipment, and other sports products or games. Again, larger audiences know who your audiences and it's okay, if your audience for your invention isn't in the millions. That's all right. They're still a targeted group that needs that product. So make sure you've done your homework to see just the product is exist. Is there something similar on the market, that someone tested this and done this a few years ago? How is yours different, and of course, having the patent before you, then do your website, then do your social media, and then hire Andrew, your past public relations to get the word out in the press. And then in turn, use the press coverage on your social media to increase awareness of your brand.

That's excellent, excellent advice. And I really appreciate you coming on. And explaining kind of the sequence, which is the best sequence for inventors to take, because there's a lot of confusion. And for different aspects, you need to do things differently for protecting the intellectual property, you don't need a prototype, you don't need a product, you literally just need the idea. And a good patent attorney can do the illustrations to show how the idea works. Without having seen any prototype or any actual product. That's the complete opposite the press doesn't want that the media wants something that you can hold in show and the easier it is to explain the benefits, the better. And you're right about the story, the store, look at how many products today are have are doing phenomenally well. And the story of the founder is a big part of their their marketing, I mean airborne, like the talks about for immunity like that. It's a school teacher that that developed it. And normally, you know, it wouldn't, it shouldn't matter. But it does, because consumers in the press, they grab on to that. And they can relate to it and they can remember it. So that's where your expertise comes in.

And the backstory with an inventor is wonderful. And I work with inventors, to media, train inventors, because the interview is going to be tighter. So you know, when when an inventor might be talking to you, they might have a half an hour. So that's long form. But when they're talking to others, it's going to be a quote, a sound bite a part of another article. So it might be more short form, how do you get the message out without muddying the message. So if you're someone who was in the military, and you know, you've come home and now you've served, served our country, and you have an idea, and now you're making it work, that's a great backstory, because obviously we all want to help and support those who served our country. If you've had one career and you turn to another That's a great story. I mean, my client, client Lynn Eichenbaum who invented the garden sleeves by nopi gloves. Lynn had been a producer at the view on ABC TV. So she's got this great that story of then moving with her husband and then having children and loving to garden and always getting poison ivy. So she invented these gloves, the garden sleeves, and now she has this backstory that leads into where she is today. And inventor Shari Hammond with the new cabinet caddy snap, which is being unveiled at the national hardware Show in Las Vegas. She, you know, she's a single mom, she works hand in hand with her dad. They've invented products since she was a kid and to have her products now in home Lowe's dot com many of the major retailers took a lot of time and effort and now the new product I'm sure will follow suit. So there's great stories on the inventors and how they got to where they are today.

So a lot of people have this impression and I get this in my practice a lot especially with the inventor interviews. And they say John is you know, is the patent professor I mean, I've worked at it fishing Eve in New York with like huge multinational corporations, large companies, and they say your your a lot of what you talk about is the inventor as as a person and you talk about people inventing products. What about corporations. And it's so funny i That's one of my pet peeves. And I tell them I said, Do you really think corporations are what's fueling innovation in this country? I mean, it's the individual inventor and corporations are comprised of people. And when you talk about this backstory, a lot of people might be thinking, oh, you know, Oh, that's cute, a small little startup and the story behind the founder. But how many people don't know that, you know, Jeff Bezos got his start in a basement with his, you know, delivering packages himself. It started with books, his original desk was a door put up on concrete blocks. These are, you know, it might be corporations today and Amazon today. So it's like they're, they own the world. But it started as a person, Walt Disney, one of my favorite quotes, quote is, if you can dream it, you can do it, but few people know that he was fired by a newspaper editor for not having enough imagination. I could go on and on, Michael,

you are so right, because because everything is is you look at the big guys, and you're looking in, in a major retailer, you're going into Target or Walmart or, or what have you. And it takes a while to get your product there. But oftentimes, you're getting your product there through another company. So you may not be getting it there through yourself, but you may get it through an As Seen On TV marketer, or a cookware marketer, or another kind of a marketer in order to get you the shelf space there. But you have to start somewhere. And the back story is something that's important to those large retailers. But most important to the large retailers. Are, is it? Does it solve a problem? Does that a great pipe price point? Is it reaching a target audience, and can I sell millions of them, because that's what a retailer wants to do. They want to order pallet upon pallet of this product. And maybe they'll even manufacture it for you. So you never know. But you have to be out there. And you have to be talking to people going to inventor groups, listening to the patent Professor each week, and what you have to say and teach them going to conventions. I mean, now conventions are coming back. And I'm already hearing about the, you know, inspired Home Show, which in the day was called the International housewares show. And that's in March in Chicago, have the national hardware show the Toy Fair, in New York City, if you have a toy product, you know, natural products east or natural products West if you have a natural product or Specialty Food Association, so whatever your product is, there's a trade organization for you. Follow that trade organization, subscribe to those trade publications. Listen, read watch. And, and one of the things that I always say, even for myself, as an entrepreneur with Andrea paths, public relations is learn something new every day. And if you learn something new every day, you're always going to be expanding your horizons. And you're going to figure out the way to get it done. You may not get it done right the first time. But you're going to get it done, right, because you're going to surround yourself with a team. And inventors need to do this. They need to have a good team working with them, they need to have you with the patent and the legal ease. They need manufacturing, they need distribution. So you need to have a good team, you might be doing this in your garage or in your spare bedroom. But you need to invest. And you need to have the right people because that's what's going to help you grow your product and you need to listen. So if someone's giving you advice, and they're an expert in their field, listen to them. They know if I'm giving you information on press outreach, and how to get earned media coverage. That's my area of expertise. Listen to me. If I tell you the right way to cut your hair, don't listen to me. I'm not a hairstylist. So listen to the experts. And don't, don't poopoo it, don't don't brush it aside and say I know better. Because we can all know everything. If I need legal work, I go to a lawyer if I need accounting work, I go to an accountant. If I need to have my teeth fixed, I go to the dentist. So go to the expert who can help you grow your product.

Yeah, and it's funny the the caveat to listening is as an inventor if you bring something new to market, like listen to the experts in their field. But if you as the inventor think that you have found a need that's not being met, then you listen to the feedback, but also follow your gut in cases like that. I mean, there's so many times when the the larger corporations, they just stick with the status quo, what works and they have like evolutionary improvements, so minor improvements and how something is done. But if it comes to something revolutionary, that might just be so different, that they, they're not going to be able to fit it into their current catalogs or see how it's going to fit. And that's where you when you say go to trade shows and speak to people, it's get real feedback from once you're protected once your patent pending, at least from real possible. inventors and it's so easy today, when you talk about learning something new every day, I mean, I'm you know, I'm 50. So I, I remember a time when for an inventor, like really, there were limited options to get your product out there. You couldn't just distribute directly, you had to find some large manufacturer to invest in you license your idea. There was no such thing as creating a store on eBay for $2,500 in getting your launch or Kickstarter to raise to raise funds, or take pre orders. How would you say the getting publicity has changed? For inventors today's has it gotten easier? Is it an overcrowded? Is there oversaturation, attention spans are smaller? What's your take on how things have changed? Well,

what's interesting is we on average, consume 11 hours a day of content. That's a crazy number. Because how many times are people who are watching this, also reading something else, or scrolling something else, or doing something else, we are a multitasking world. And so there's so much content. But for inventors, there are opportunities to get your product there. Not every invention is going to be featured in New York Times. But that's okay. There are audiences for you. If you have a product for people who run they're all of these different media outlets for runners, or chefs, or gardening enthusiast, or whatever your product might be, there's a lot of press to be had. And it's for an experienced public relations person to get the word out there correctly. has the world changed? Yes, the world has changed. There are a lot of pay to play opportunities that the average viewer or reader won't realize that someone paid to have their product on that table. Now, that won't be the Today Show or Good Morning America. But in local individual markets, when you see a lifestyle expert, and they're going down the table with great gift ideas for Mother's Day, or for the holiday season, the brands have paid for their product to be on that table. Because the TV station is not paying that lifestyle expert, they need to get paid somehow. So this is how they make a living. So there's a lot of pay to play. And I love when my clients forward me emails from these middle of the night TV shows that that air on, you know, a cable station that you wouldn't even know that you had. And they say oh, but for $30,000 on my national TV. Well, I would say you're better off running an infomercial, instead of being featured on that one show because then your infomercial, you could probably air on a bunch of different stations for that amount of money and reach different audiences. So there are a lot of pay to play opportunities. I have bloggers who say, Oh, you know, it cost this amount to be featured on my blog. And I say we will gladly send you product to review. Most of my clients don't have a budget to do pay to play. And that's okay. There's a lot of earned media to get that isn't paid to play. And so my world has changed tremendously, especially since the start of the pandemic. So you have to be realistic in your goals and in the press outreach, but you as an inventor have to be ready to ship product to the media that you will not have returned. So make sure when you're ordering product for your own online store or through Amazon or Etsy or however you're selling your product, the grommet that you have a bunch of product in house that you can ship out to the press when someone like me says Oh, get a sample to this one by this date to be included in a holiday gift guide or in you know, spring cleaning story or whatever the story might be. They'll have product back, but the world has changed but there's a lot more press and there's there are a lot more homegrown. journalists, these are individuals that did not study journalism, or broadcasting or writing or production in school. They found that they love to do this. And so they're writing a blog or a newsletter, or they're having a YouTube, or a Facebook Live or a podcast. So there's a growing audience that still reaches target consumers. So it's a great way to get your story told. It's changed a lot, but someone like me zigs and zags all along.

So Wow. And even you're right that pandemics just from everything for, for loop. I know some of the press coverage that I've had. I was asked to show up at a studio with sometimes with not really that much notice, like, hey, you know, what, Friday, two o'clock, and it's like Wednesday, but you kind of have to be ready for that. Or at least it I don't know how the pandemics change that. But what would you advise inventors in terms of availability, I know they've got to have product, but what about availability to travel to get that publicity? How important is that?

It's not, it's no longer that important. Will that change in the coming months or year? Possibly. But right now, most interviews are being done remotely, you know, thank you to all of these video platforms that we can do this. And so you don't need to physically be somewhere. But a lot of people are booking out in advance. I mean, you and I scheduled this in advance, so you know, you're doing something. So you can have on your calendar. I mean, I have a client who did a radio interview last night that we had booked about three weeks ago. So you usually have your notice to things come up? Yes, yes, I mean, things do come up, and things get canceled at the last minute, and then you have to reschedule them. But at least it's happening from the comfort of your office, or wherever you might be to do those interviews. And oftentimes you're doing an interview, that may not appear. For a number of weeks or months, I have a client that did an interview about six months ago, it's running in two weeks, because different people have different schedules. So when you're doing an interview, don't date the interviewer, every content should be evergreen. So your product is available. If it is available year round, that's evergreen, even if you have a lawn product. For those of us in the northeast, I'm a Jersey girl, we have snow, we're not gardening it in the middle of the winter, but a large part of the country is still gardening, because they may not have snow, they might have warmer weather like like you might where you are. So there's always pressed to be had, you just need to know how to get

it. And especially I think sometimes it's hard not to think about an upcoming holiday. So you don't want to date you interview by saying go this would be you know, it would the upcoming fourth of July, blah, blah, blah, because if it if it, you know, airs in August or September, then they're going to have to cut that segment no matter how good it is. Because they didn't want to embarrass themselves by having dated material.

Definitely and, and it's true, you might have a sale on your product at a certain time, whether it's going to be Black Friday, Cyber Monday, graduation season, you know, but you know, spring, July 4, whatever you might have a sale, that's okay, you could still get press on your sale. But when you're doing more of a long form interview, you want to be generic, you want to be evergreen, and use the press you get and use it over and over again. So I tell my clients, post something on your social media about that placement that interview that product review on your invention. And in three months posted again, or six weeks after that. We're nine weeks after that posted again, I was just on a call this morning with a client of mine. And I said to her, you got great press a few months ago, reuse it. We have more things coming up at reuse the press. You know you because they paid for me. In essence, they paid for the press use it, it's evergreen. And she says I hadn't thought of it that way. And I said, please use the press because it's new audiences. And how many times I don't know about you, but I'll be reading something online. They'll say, oh, that's an interesting title of an article and I'll click on it. And I'll go to read the article. And I always look at who wrote the article, because that's important to me as a public relations professional. But I'll say oh my goodness, this is a fabulous article that was written two years ago, but the content is still relevant. So remember that content is relevant, and your product can be relevant for year round. Unless it's specific to a holiday I mean I had represented some products that that were holiday related products. So okay, we focus that for holiday and then we move on to something else. But that's okay. Most products are year round products. Yeah.

exception would be like the the antlers for your pet dog or something for, you know, around the holidays around Christmas, for example, the pets is holiday specific, but most are not. You're right. Well, we're almost we actually we are out of time. And I everyone is so has so much zoom fatigue that we promise to keep the show do a half hour. But I do want to give you one opportunity for a parting piece of advice, something that if you had just one thing to tell inventors who are trying to get their product out there that you'd like to close with.

I think I would say if your product exists, and it is for sale right now, then you need to start press outreach right now. Don't wait till tomorrow. Don't wait till next year. Start now. But remember, it's a process. And it takes time. And it takes commitment. And so for you to get your product out there. Get the job done. Start with public relations, feel free to reach out to me, Andrea pass public relations and for your listeners and viewers. Go to Andrea Platt pass er, and make an appointment with me for a half hour consultation. And I'd welcome that opportunity.

Terrific. And Jenny's our moderator here she's gonna we have a private Facebook group, the inventors mastermind, so we'll post your information and for anyone that wants to get in touch with you an ability to do that. And I want to thank you, Andrea, for coming on. Everyone else have a wonderful Friday. One happy weekend and we'll see you again next week.

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