Obama’s White House, Mitter’s Pink Turban; How to Make the Most of an Unsuspected Media Storm

May 23, 2012

10:30 am

Unnecessary question alert: did you notice the pink turban in the above photo?  Of course you did.  Standing in the background during a presidential speech is a big deal.  A simple sneeze in that situation could capture the attention of millions of eyeballs at any given point.  Wearing a bright pink turban amongst a sea of navy suits, well, that’s just asking for attention – isn’t it?

“Grabbing media attention was definitely not my intention,” says Navroop Mitter, founder and CEO at Gryphn.  “I needed something to match my tie. ‘Ok I’ll throw my pink turban on,’ I decided.”

As it turns out, Mitter had no idea he was going to be on camera – the whole event was rather serendipitous.  After responding to a White House tweet about how a payroll tax cut would effect people’s finances, Mitter received an invite to the White House to watch the president’s speech on the recent payroll tax cut extension.  “I’m going to be sitting in the audience watching the president speak. I knew my mom was watching, so I told her that when the camera pans away from the president, you might see a pink dot.  When you do, that’s your son.”

That pink dot ended up garnering a good deal of attention, including ABC News.

And although Gryphn’s first product, Armor Text, was not yet ready for launch, Mitter decided to pull the trigger and release an early beta version to capitalize on the moment.

“We had to adjust our strategy,” says Mitter.  “We weren’t planning on pushing out code but when we saw what was occurring, we expedited the work to get a early version out there. We had a lot of attention and the spotlight today, and we knew we would lose that tomorrow. As a result we actually made it work. It ended up being great for us.”

Although Mitter willingly acknowledges that Gryphn benefitted from the increase in traffic, his marketing philosophy doesn’t typically involve media stunts.  “Do really really good work and the attention will find you. I was in Time magazine when I was 17 years old – for my work.  At times, this feels like a distraction. I make it a point to not always wear a pink, I certainly wear it a lot less than I did before.”

To go lean or not to go lean?

Although conventional wisdom says to stay as lean as possible, Mitter knew the surge in media attention was beyond what he and his team were capable of handling, or at least, not worth leaving to chance.

“We decided to pull in the best PR specialists.  I wanted to know how to appropriately leverage this situation.  How do we handle the right requests?  The reality is you don’t have to run lean all the time – sometimes you have to pull in the experts to get the job done.”

To learn more about this DC-based mobile security startup, check out the Gryphn website and their first product, ArmorText.

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When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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