[FoRK] Help for Startups ... ?

silky michaelslists at gmail.com
Wed Mar 3 12:18:18 PST 2010

On Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 5:16 AM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
> Ken asks:
> > will this be helpful, do you think?
> Short version:  yes.
> Long version:  PR is vitally important to startups and is the area that most of them get entirely wrong.  It's important even to your more
> enterprise-y things, which tend more to focus on pipeline-building and partnering efforts, but absolutely essential to the consumer folks.
> You can often spot the folks from the "wrong" school of thought because their website will have separate "solutions" and "products"
> areas.  Even some consumer products, rather inexplicably, have this;  most recently I noticed that Sling Media has this broken concept.
> My advice to them:  fire your head of marketing, hire an evangelist and retain a world-class outside PR firm where the principal is the guy
> on your account, right there on the road with you at all times, and he knows absolutely *everybody.*
> When it comes to getting a startup up the curve, it's all about buzz and mindshare --- even on the funding front --- and this sort of
> exposure and activity is perhaps the single highest impact-to-dollar investment the company can make --- for product companies, even
> more than engineering, perhaps sadly.  (You've got to have a baseline competence, there;  but beyond getting to beta, this sort of activity
> is going to have a much more profound impact on valuation and opportunity than anything else.)

See, this is what I'd get wrong. I'd consider myself a "failing"
entrepreneur. I have a few ideas I've "launched" (i.e. uploaded to a
website) but done no marketing on them. A few others that I'm
launching now, and will do slightly more marketing. But it's always
something I struggle with (talking about it) because I hate self
promotion (well, more accurately, I have no real respect for it).
Which is probably not a correct attitude, but it's the one I have at
the moment.

It depresses me that a business (mine or not) will do badly simply
because the person doesn't shamelessly promote it, as opposed to it
being specifically "good" and "correct". My views aren't quite as
extreme as this, but it conveys the idea.

To this end, I don't think a new vote-based listing on some other
website will help a lot. If I put mine up there (for example) I'd
still need to get votes. I.e. promote it.

The worst thing, IMHO, is they most contacts and promotions and
associations with "good people" come from accidental contacts at
meetings and university and so on. In the real world, you need to hire
people, or cut them in for a significant component of the company. And
even finding interested people is hard, let alone being able to offer

> It would be no exaggeration to say that almost all of Activerse's success, such as it was, was the result of getting this part of it right.
> (For us, it was Esther Dyson and, particularly, Jerry Michalski --- though David Coursey also played a role, and our PR firm of course
> made the whole thing happen.)
> jb



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