“Tech is becoming a hits business.” As noted in this month’s Fast Company, if a startup doesn’t catapult to success — a la Instagram or Draw Something — it’s deemed a failure.
In the article, Path’s founder Dave Morin explains that “There’s a subsection of people in the Valley who think the only way to be successful is to create a viral overnight hit.”
Fail fast is the mantra, right?
Not so fast.
We see this mentality of needing the big hit in PR, too. I get it. After all, who doesn’t want a front-page New York Times story? But, that isn’t always possible — nor is that a placement that will necessarily help you accomplish your specific business goals. As a PR person, part of my job is to help manage clients’ expectations.
Here’s the brutal truth: Not every company, or every launch, is deserving of major media coverage. But, you don’t necessarily need major media coverage to be successful.
Your PR person should be working really hard to line up major media hits — but the definition of “major media” depends on your industry, your product and your goals. A big win could include a profile in your industry’s leading trade publication, an article on a blog read by your target audience, or a placement on the Today Show, just for starters. But, don’t get so consumed by that one placement that you overlook the other meaningful PR opportunities right in front of you.
Instead of pining away for a New York Times profile, create a smart PR plan. Start by asking some tough questions:
- Why do you need PR?
- What does PR success look like to you?
- How can a PR strategy support your big-picture goals?
If you’re doing something innovative, starting a new trend, or doing something else that you honestly think is worthy of national media attention, then by all means, go for the homerun. But, make sure you’re also focusing on the other important PR elements. As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in that one basket. Media relations is one piece of the puzzle, but you also need to be smart about messaging, relationship management, events, digital PR, online monitoring and responsiveness, creating content (traditional and digital), blogger outreach, social media, and so on.
A quick anecdote: Last week, we helped a client launch a new company. It looked like a massive success, with media coverage in everything from Mashable and TechCrunch, to Inc, BetaKit, The Next Web and more (lots more). And, more importantly, that media coverage led to a spike in web traffic and new users. But, that didn’t happen overnight. The company’s founders had been working on the product since the fall and we’d been working with them for a month or so, laying the groundwork to ensure a high-profile launch. But, that’s just the beginning. Building momentum is Step 1. Sustaining the momentum delivers long-term results.
If Apple had lived by today’s “go big or go home” mentality, we probably wouldn’t have the iPhone, iPad or multiple version of the iPod. To refresh your memory, “No one waited in line to buy the first iPod. It took a year and a half for Apple’s shiny, pricey music player to hit its millionth sale, and nothing about its trajectory (2002 sales, for example, were a Zune-like 40,000 a month) suggested that success lay ahead.” But, Apple persevered, understanding that they were in for a marathon, not a sprint. changing habits doesn’t happen overnight.
The technology and PR industries are suffering from blockbuster-itis. But, keep this in mind: Building and launching something that matters, or changing habits isn’t a fast process. In fact, overnight success rarely happens overnight.