Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Media won't make your startup bigger or better

Raise your hand if you said one of these:

"If my startup could only get into GigaOM, then I'd get millions of users."
"I'm only an article away from getting noticed by VCs."
"My girlfriend would get off my case if Forbes would write up a piece on my game-changing technology."

Now put your hand down - you look silly.

I admit it, I've said one of those statements above in some form at a point in my entrepreneurial life.  I always felt that the press was the single biggest catalyst to making my start up successful.

Here's the truth:  the press helps, but you ultimately have to create something that solves a fundamental problem that people are willing to use.

The press is like a drug.  You chase after it, and you finally get that big article or video spot.  You hype it up on Facebook, you Tweet it, you tell your parents, grandparents and the kids that walk by your apartment everyday.  You'll be on cloud nine for as the user base grows and your revenue reaches at an all-time high.

Now brace yourself, ultimately they'll disappear if you have a piss-poor product.  Now you're back on the hunt for the next press fix.  You may get it and you may not.  In the meantime, you're wasting a boatload of company resources on PR instead of actually coding and building your product.

FAIL!!!

Here's are few pieces of advice for those that don't have the PR budget:
  • Go out and network.  Meet as many people as you can, and you'll probably run into tech blogger.  Follow them in Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn and fan them on Facebook.  Don't ask for anything at the beginning - just nurture the relationship
  • Most reporters are measured by their page views, the virility of their articles and the comments posted - so do them all.  If you actively participate in their articles, then when you reach out to them about your new widget they'll be happy to entertain a conversation.
  • Focus on your business.  The media will come if you build something great.  As the title of this post eludes, the media won't make your product bigger or better - it's you that has to do that.  When you do reach that stage of success, don't forget the reporters that helped you get to where you're at.
You can follow Allan on Twitter @allanscu.

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