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Summary:

You’ve got a super cool Web app. You want a high profile blog to cover what you’re doing. You’ve got a PR firm scheduling back-to-back demos with tech bloggers. But when you actually connect with the blogger, is your demo and presentation doing your product justice? […]

You’ve got a super cool Web app. You want a high profile blog to cover what you’re doing. You’ve got a PR firm scheduling back-to-back demos with tech bloggers. But when you actually connect with the blogger, is your demo and presentation doing your product justice? Or are you shooting your company in it’s proverbial foot?

In order to stay on top of new Web apps and get a deeper understanding of how some of them work without having to subscribe to them all and use them all over time (which would be an overwhelming undertaking), I’ve been scheduling back-to-back demos with tech companies who are touting their cool Web apps and want me to blog about them here.

Here’s a list of things to consider before you conduct your demo. (And please share this with your PR people).

1. Know my style. Read a few of my blog posts to get a sense of my review style. I tend to detail my personal experiences as a Web worker and how I think a particular app might work for me or people like me. I am opinionated. My style is not really techie. I’m more interested in the practical nuts and bolts. (For those with PR firms, they should be doing this research for you). ed: You should know the blog you’re pitching. WebWorkerDaily focuses on products that the average web worker can purchase for themselves or for their smaller businesses. We don’t tend to focus on enterprise software, social networking applications (unless they’re specially focused on professional networking) or games.

2. Know my OS. I’m a Mac user. I talk about this in many of my blog posts. I love the Mac. So if your app doesn’t work on a Mac or doesn’t work well with Macs, please think twice before pitching me. There are other talented bloggers here who are PC users and you can tell by reading their posts.

3. Target your pitch. So while I’m on the topic of pitching, you are far more likely to win friends and influence bloggers if you send your pitch to the main email address (tips@webworkerdaily.com) and maybe a personalized pitch to one of the bloggers who you feel might really like your app. But blanketing your pitch to all the bloggers on a blog is just bad form. It makes our jobs more difficult if several of us are pursuing the same story at the same time and figure it out only after we’ve put in time we can’t afford to waste.

4. Use a scheduling app. Even if you have a PR firm scheduling your calls, turn them onto one of the handy Web apps available to coordinate the complex schedules of several people. I prefer the quick and easy Doodle myself. But trying to do the scheduling by email and voice mail really is inefficient.

5. Identify yourself. I hate to break it to you, but with all the emails flying back and forth to schedule the call and all the calls I’m on each day, I don’t necessarily know who you are or what you do for the company. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several CEOs of new tech companies, but they often jump into the conversation without even an introduction. So when we connect on the phone, please tell me who you are, and let me do the same.

6. Go straight to the demo. When we’re on the phone, please start the demo first. I review Web apps. I don’t write about tech companies. Sure I mention the tech company responsible for the app in my post and occasionally quote someone from the company, but in general, I just want to know how your app works. Information about your company, your philosophy, your methodology, and your market research can come out during the demo or if I ask. Otherwise, let the app do the talking.

7. Kill the slides. I don’t need to see PowerPoint slides explaining your company or product. And I definitely don’t need to read along with you as you read your PowerPoint slides out loud. I need to see the app in action. I need to see it now.

8. Keep it brief. Hit only the highlights for a few minutes as you demo. If I like what I see, believe me when I say I will ask you questions. Lots of questions. Even if I see things I don’t like, I will ask you questions. I need you to show me what your app does. If you have to provide a lot of detail, I may get the impression that your app just isn’t smart or intuitive or that you don’t think I’m smart or intuitive enough. Either way, you’re killing me with your rambling.

9. Be open. Some of my favorite demos and most enjoyable reviews were with companies whose CEO or other rep was open to my feedback and critiques. Hey, I’m very opinionated and when something doesn’t work, I call it like it is. I’ve had some company reps make changes based on my feedback. Others have offered to make changes based on the feedback of commenters on my posts. That kind of responsiveness (versus defensiveness) wins you lots and lots of brownie points in my book.

10. Keep in touch. I don’t want to be spammed – but I do want you to ask me if you can put me on your email list (I have a special email address just for that purpose so do not just add my email willy nilly). I’d love to hear about new developments with your app. I’d love to know that the feature you said was “coming soon” that I blogged about previously has actually launched. And I’d really love a scoop on that!

I’m pretty sure that a lot of what I’ve said above goes for many bloggers out there. We’re crazy busy, on perpetual deadlines, and are fully immersed in a sea of Web apps. In this case, less is more. Be thoughtful. Be selective. Be brief. I’ll love you for it!

This post was greatly inspired by Jason Calacanis’ recent post to his email list about how to demo your startup, as reposted on TechCrunch. While some tips are similar to Jason’s, they are all things that I have personally experienced which just proves that he nailed it.

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By Aliza Sherman

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  1. Ilan Abehassera Monday, August 11, 2008

    very very insightful feedback on the demo game, I’ll keep that in mind when I’ll pitch you :)

  2. Sounds like you are bigger than the blog readers you serve. I wonder how many useful applications we’ve missed that might prove useful to our lives because of your ego? Back to lifehacker.com.

  3. Ah how I feel for you:) I can just imagine the experiences which have prompted this post. They come back to the eternal lessons. The client has a point of view, and a need. Relate to that. If you don’t add any value, don’t waste your time and the client’s time. If you do add value, explain it in the client’s language.

  4. Aliza Sherman Monday, August 11, 2008

    Dear Reader, I bet Lifehacker and all the other blogs you enjoy all have bloggers who feel the exact same way. It isn’t ego – it is simply asking for common courtesy and good media relations. More than anything, it saves PR people and companies time and money to know who to pitch and how to pitch properly so they get the best coverage for their Web apps.

    And I don’t reject Web apps because a company or PR person doesn’t approach me “properly” or makes a terrible pitch or demo that does their application a disservice. I review applications that I am able to access (not all work with Mac) and that help Web workers with their work. Bad pitches and demos aside, it really is all about the app and how it fits into our work and lives.

  5. erinshizuewilliams Monday, August 11, 2008

    Thanks for the great advice.

    I know I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and I defintely don’t want to give PR a worse name. There are plenty enough people out there working on that!

  6. Thanks- as someone who spends a large portion of their time trying to get their web app reviewed/demoed/tried I appreciate the direction.

  7. Thanks for the advice and tips Aliza!

    I respect that the quality of the product CAN shine through a bad pitch, but the pitch helps big time and I think how we present is related to what we present. I will keep this post in mind as I move forward to promote our new product at devshop.

  8. Startups: Demo Tips : East Coast Blogging Monday, August 18, 2008

    [...] I came across a great post over on Web Worker Daily with some tips on how to pitch and demo your web [...]

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    [...] How to Pitch and Demo Your Cool Web App. [...]

  10. its my web app and ill pitch it any way i damn well feel like.

    NO demo for you.

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