August 16 2014

Humin: The anatomy of a product feature

We’ve talked a lot about the common PR goal of seeing your company front and center in an article, but haven’t gone deeper into what one of those articles really looks like. As a recent example, we thought it would be helpful to take a peek inside an article TechCrunch published all about the release of the new app, Humin. The app itself is a way to organize your contacts based on how you know each person (not quite newsworthy yet), but Sarah Buhr’s article shows all of the elements that make it just the kind of product release that warrant’s TechCrunch coverage.

Pitch perfect

Humin hooks into your phone, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts and combines them with your calendar, email and voicemail to provide context to all those people listed in your phone.”

A short and succinct explanation of the product or service is a non-negotiable in a good introductory article. Buhr’s ability to put this into a single sentence is a good indication that the makers of this app have a good elevator pitch. We live in the age of content overload, which means that the fewer words you need to get your point across, the better. Make sure that your pitch is perfect.

In the beginning

“Jain tells me the Humin team started out thinking they’d work on the clunky phone contacts system we currently deal with. It was about the contacts themselves. According to Jain, our current way of looking up phone contacts is archaic. ‘People forget but the entire Internet used to be organized in alphabetical lists and categories on sites like Yahoo and Alta Vista and Lycos,’ Jain says. But new search engines like Google started putting search into context. He soon realized it wasn’t a contacts issue, but a contextual search issue. ‘I wanted to create a way to find your connections the way you actually think about them,’ says Jain.”

One of the most engaging parts of a startup’s story is how the founders came up with an idea so compelling that they couldn’t help but take huge risk and pursue it. An introductory story like this one about Humin uses these details to connect readers to the beginning of their startup story. It’s the “why” that everyone needs to jump on board with the “what”.

The name drop

Humin, the app that aims to replace your iPhone contacts app is now in the App Store. Will.i.am, Richard Branson and Angry Birds creator Peter Vesterbacka were all part of the private beta launch a few months back. The app is now ready for everyone with an iPhone today.”

“Jain, by the way, is the son of Intelius CEO Naveen Jain. Intelius sells lists of public records. That is, public contact information. This might have been part of Jain’s inspiration for an app that combines all of your personal phone content to give it context.”

It’s no secret that famous names are helpful in getting a reader or journalist’s attention. If Richard Branson was a part of your private beta, you’d mention it too! Anything notable, especially when it gives your product the stamp of approval by a known expert, should be included.

While every startup story is different and every journalist writes in their own style, introductory stories like this one have some key elements. When you’re pitching your story via press releases, including, and perfecting, these facts can help to motivate a writer.

If you’re interested in more PR tips for startups, take a look at Keeping your mouth shut (why you shouldn’t do it).