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Telexistence Inc is a Tokyo-based robotic startup that I stumbled upon that made me think about the future of retail. Telexistence unveiled its first mass production prototype for Model H. The premise is simple, the drone is dormant until a user logs on with a VR headset and starts moving it around. While the kit in the video is bulky (and I am not sure why that is the case) in the future it’s likely to be as simple as logging into a social network. In a way, this is the future that Mark Zuckerburg wants and one I can see happen en mass if drones start to really take off.
Per the Telexistence website; “Telexistence® is a concept of using a remote robot as his or her extended being, to release humans from space-time constraints.” The ideas was first proposed by Dr. Susumu Tachi, Professor Emeritus Professor of the University of Tokyo in 1980. It is an evolutionary form of a master-slave robot system where the operator receives sensor information from the remotely located robot and controls the robot to conduct remote tasks. When I saw the video, I thought of ‘I,Robot‘ – the Will Smith movie mixed with ‘Surrogates’ (Bruce Willis). While Telexistence is more about going to places you can’t, the idea of an ‘extended being’ and ‘master-slave robot system’ just sounds way cool and will capture the imagination of brands and business around the world.
The system looks pretty simple (but obviously isn’t) and while it does feature elements like infrared 3D location measurement, VR and haptic devices the system isn’t made for out of home or office use (in case you were wondering). The robot is also battery powered although no specifics are given on the website so it – like VR – may not be for long periods of usage.
Apart from the obvious uses for people of reduced mobility, this system could also help the lazy or those that are annoyed by endless browsing…quite a large percentage of online shoppers. The Telexistence system also potentially limits returns if the system knows what will fit you, and what will not, based on measurements that a user could give it. When a 1/3 of shopping is returned, minimising this is a change worth making for many.
Best of all, the system could extend opening hours, essentially making a closed store operate 24-7 (even though the video does show a human shopworker). Equally, the “store” could be faked and simply an extension of the e-commerce functionality and the shipment could be sent from any warehouse or even couriered to the buyer. It’s all up for grabs at this stage as people fight for the last mile and how to beat Amazon.
Telexistence might just have given retailers looking to get an edge on Amazon a chance to move their business sideways before they are overtaken or replaced. Start testing it now, the price of VR is dropping and consumers like to shop – Telexistence might just be the tool retailers have been looking for that’s easy to implement.
Whether you are looking to gain awareness, improve SEO, or increase sales, having great exposure can help you get there. But PR is not a band-aid for an overarching business problem–nor is it a get rich fast technique.
A great PR strategy can take many years to build. Over the years, I’ve seen many companies start their efforts, only to stop before they’ve given the program enough time to develop. I’ve heard dozens of marketers and founders explain that they quit their PR efforts after their pitch didn’t get picked up by enough outlets in the first few week. Gaining great coverage takes time, pitch optimization, and persistence.
Often times, if a brand could have taken a step back after a rejected story to tweak their angle and try again, the second story they pitch could have been widely successful. Here’s why you shouldn’t throw in the towel for your PR outreach just yet:
1. Relationships take time to build.
Imagine you are at a party. You immediately start talking about you, your business, and your news. Very quickly, many people will not want to talk with you.
The same holds true when you’re building relationships with the media. It takes time to get to know a reporter and what they are writing about and then creating relevant pitches that are helpful to them. When you build trust and rapport with reporters, they’ll be more likely to open your emails, which is the first step to gaining great coverage.
You can build a better relationship with reporters by becoming well versed with their past writings and looking for opportunities to tell them stories of interest. Take a look through their Twitter accounts and personal websites to learn more about what they’re covering and the news that is important to them.
When you reach out to a reporter for the first time, show them that you are knowledgeable about their area of coverage and that your story fits their angle. When we reach out to reporters we make sure to spend time reading their past work to ensure our pitch is the right fit for their area of expertise. It can be easy to burn a press bridge simply by not personalizing an email enough–take your time, do your research, and get to know reporters for the long term. Slow and steady wins the race.
2. SEO is a long-term game.
When you receive a press mention, you’ll likely see a spike in traffic on the day it’s published–but don’t discount the future traffic. If you are a mattress company and you get listed as “The Best Mattresses Ever Made,” you’ll benefit from both the spike and also later from people who are searching for mattresses and come across the article. Traffic from press articles should be monitored for months to come, even after publication.
An authoritative link will not only drive traffic, but will also help your website in the search engine rankings. This boost will not happen instantly. With time and relevant inbound links, you’ll see not just your referral traffic grow, but also your organic search traffic from Google.
3. Press takes commitment–and a bit of luck.
It takes a while to learn about the best way to pitch your product. Each time you pitch, you’ll learn more about what copy and message resonates with reporters.
If you’re not seeing any success, it does not mean you don’t have an interesting story. It might mean you are pitching to the wrong reporters, your email subject line needs work, or you simply didn’t follow up.
By tracking your emails with a tool like SideKick or Yesware, you’ll be better able to see who is opening your mails, what they’re clicking on, and how many times they went back to the email. You can use this data to refine your pitch the next time. With the media always changing, it also takes a bit of luck to pitch at the right time to the right reporter with the right story.
Pitching takes a strong backbone and you’ll get a lot of rejections. If you haven’t had success yet, keep trying. And if you’ve been pitching for months with still no results, it might be time to call in a PR pro to help you optimize your pitch and press kit.
If you’re looking to reap the benefits of the press, start early, optimize often, and plan your strategy for the long haul. This time next year, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.