#MentorSpotlight || Meet Alan Weinkrantz
“John Lennon and Paul McCartney never wrote for the purpose of SEO”
Alan Weinkrantz, a strategic community advisor and former brand ambassador for the Rackspace startup program, is a long time San Antonio resident with a personality the size of Texas.
Beginning his career in the pre-Facebook and Google era, Alan started doing PR and strategic communication for tech companies and startups. At every company he worked for, he noticed a most critical part missing — the company’s voice. The technology was there, but it was simply a product.
It is common to compare an organization to a musical band, where the individuals in the organization are compared to the individual parts of a band. Alan uses this musical metaphor to explain not the structure of an organization, but the story behind it.
He notes that with many startups, the technical code is there, but what’s missing are the ‘lyrics’, the story behind it — what the company stands for. Allen compares bands that elevated the world such as the Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash, and The Who, to startups, claiming they simply manifest in a different way. He explains: “Every startup is like a different studio, working with different musicians. The code is there; the narrative must be built.”
The startup therapist
Recently completing a three-month run as brand ambassador for cloud computing service firm, Rackspace, Alan offered his knowledge to Israeli startups. His creative and knowledgeable persona makes him a valuable advisor. He met with over 1,000 companies throughout Israel: in Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Haifa, and Gush Etzion, to name a few.
Alan says that by observing the startup landscape of a country, one begins to see patterns, opportunities, and problems. Sponsored by Rackspace, his entire mission was to help Israeli startups in any way he could. His personal touch for voice narrative and brand content outreach to the media brought added value to companies that didn’t have the budget for it. Alan saw where he could add value to the ecosystem and made it his mission to #BeHelpful.
As he puts it, something that holds true throughout time: “whether 35 years ago or today, whether a company has raised millions in funding or no funding at all, a startup is a sheet of music.”
Startups from Alan’s perspective
One of Alan’s biggest takeaways after being in the startup ecosystem for so long is that people glorify the wrong kind of startup. Success is nice, of course, but Alan explains that society these days celebrates the wrong thing. Rather than a multi-million dollar exit, we should be celebrating the freedom and opportunity to do what we do, as well as the ability to learn from other creatives and grow.
His tip to all founders and startups is: define your reality. If the goal is to become a specialized niche company, great. If it is to be a multi-million dollar conglomerate, great. Just do it.
Either way, think ahead, specifically in terms of PR. When a company thinks it’s ready for PR, they’re most likely too late. In the beginning, start by simply listening. Identify bloggers, journalists — whoever it is that would be interested in what the company is doing and why. Read and consume their content and get inside their head. Six months later, reach out again, but get on their radar early. Additionally, think about the narrative and brand. It’s not just a company’s logo or colors but it’s its voice, heart, and soul.
Tips for success
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and give help when you can. If something is unknown, admit it. “I don’t know” is also an answer.
- Don’t hold onto an idea that isn’t working. Cut it loose early and reiterate.
- Don’t pitch. Help journalists find and discover companies like yours to promote to their readers.
Check out Alan’s Medium publication to follow his worldly travels, read about the startups he encounters, view his brilliant photography and more.