Warning! This doesn’t apply to everyone who has tried to pitch me a story, but enough for me to write this blog post. Please don’t jump all over my head thinking that I am referring to you.
When I started off as a part-time rogue blogger, I found it easy to write on things I found interesting. As the regularity and velocity of my blogging picked up, I found an interesting trend emerge. I now get a regular steady beat of requests to write about their start-up or a weird obscure thing going on in their company.
Now don’t get me wrong,I come across a few real gems and legitimately interesting things going on. However, I drill down a bit further on why many of these companies are so actively seeking coverage (especially the ones that I find a bit dubious) and have found an alarming, but not surprising trend. Many of these companies are using coverage to mask the fact that their company has significant holes in it.
It could be that their business is a “me too” company or that they are not nearly as far along as they claim to be, or even that the number of active users they have on their system just isn’t really interesting.
Let me set the record straight: as a marketer, going after coverage is a perfectly acceptable and smart way to help advance the goals of your start-up. I am in the process of launching my own start-up right now (Printchomp – shameless plug alert) and PR will be a corner stone of driving user sign-ups and interest in the company. That said, if you are no where close to achieving product-market fit, your User Experience absolutely sucks or you’re a shameless knockoff of another site, maybe you don’t want to be pushing so hard for coverage.
Even if all those items are fixed, you also have to make sure you have a compelling reason to actively pursue coverage. A veiled excuse to get backlinks from a major tech blog isn’t enough in my opinion. So before you send out an article request to piss off yet another tech journalist, ask yourself a key question. If you receive coverage, will it materially fix any of the day to day problems your start-up faces? It is like using wallpaper for structural support in a building. It looks nice, but it won’t keep your house from falling over.