[Opinion] What I Learnt From Writing About Startups In Malaysia

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I am a probation officer at Vulcan Post and have been searching for and presenting startups for over two months.

Of all the types of writing I’ve done so far, I look forward to showcasing startups the most. I am always curious to find out more about their journey and how they solve a problem or contribute to our society.

The process of a feature works like this: I’ll track down a startup, find a perspective on the feature, take it to my team, email interview questions once it’s approved, and ask more questions before writing.

While it sounds like a decently simple and straightforward process, the work we do is more than just stringing words together.

We break down your statements and select meaningful direct quotes from your responses to give our readers (and also your audience) valuable information. At the same time, we do our best to ensure smooth reading.

The role of a startup in these processes is much more important than you think.

What makes a good function?

From what I’ve seen, some startups tend to be hesitant with their answers and give very superficial, vague answers. Nothing wrong with this, but it does remove a lot of interesting details about your business that could leave an impression on readers.

The personality of the respondent also plays a major role. By personality, I mean being honest and raw in how you talk about your startup, being detailed, and breaking off the PR conversation.

This makes readers feel like they are connecting to the more human side of the startup. It’s something we authors can’t do much for you if it isn’t there at all.

In fact, if you are a startup in a highly competitive market, I believe that your personality is one of the most important things that can set you apart from another in one feature.

It’s great when we get answers that feel like an open session, as we can tell when a respondent is putting their hearts into answering too.

Sharing details doesn’t always have to relate to more negative topics like loss or regret, it can also be fun experiences throughout the business.

Details that also provide practical advice to other players in the industry or our audience / your potential customers are also not overlooked.

Deleting the PR conversation works great

Sometimes we come across startups who think that an editorial feature of their brand means a piece that they praise from start to finish or can easily be passed off as a page on their own website.

They then provide answers that sound more “PR-sounding”. Of course, there is a time and place for that, but the editors are not used much in such answers.

What we mean by “PR-sounding” answers are:

  • Vague statements about business success with no details or examples to support them,
  • Use too many keywords (at least 5 probably just crossed your mind)
  • Use too much jargon to sound fancy (lay terms are best for reaching a wider audience).
  • Make bold claims like first, best, top without having an official record / award to back them up (our Google research can only go so far!).

However, it is understandable that jargon is sometimes used depending on which reader we are targeting.

For example, when we write an article aimed at other startups in a similar industry, some jargon is welcomed as we explain it in the “Dictionary Time” sections that you may have seen in some articles anyway.

However, when it comes to having a feature that makes a startup sound accessible and accessible, it is best if a respondent can answer in layman terms.

Detail what you can do for customers Instead

One book we writers at Vulcan Post read for the first time is called “Everyone Writes: Your Guide to Creating ridiculously good content” by Ann Handley.

What she shares is important not only for us writers but also for brands to understand how to better reach their audiences with the results they want.

From her we learned that writing in simple language as if we were writing the article for our mom or dad is the best way to create content that will cling to people.

Customers these days are much more critical of a brand’s messages and are not easily won over by big, fancy words.

A brand that only boasts of what it can do will not impress many. People want to know what will actually benefit them from using your product or service.

In order for us authors to reflect on this information, respondents must first provide it.

Faces are important!

Do you remember what we said about your personality that could make your feature more memorable?

The pictures are also the same, regardless of whether they are founder or team pictures or just pictures behind the scenes of your team creating a product, for example.

Words are important and a good story is what defines the piece, but the images also add a lot to the piece. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Additionally, images that show who the people behind a company are can build more customer trust in your brand.

Get these professional or honest founder / team photos taken now as they will be useful for a variety of uses in the future, including Vulcan Post features.

  • For more information on other opinion pieces we’ve written about here, click here.
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