I just read a great post by Bekah Grant about the pain and suffering that tech bloggers go through dealing with the continuous onslaught of startup founders trying to get press for their startups.
I thought it might be fun to give the startup founder point of view so we can each understand each other's world a little better.
First let me say that many of my close friends are tech journalists/bloggers both past and present. I know (second hand) many of the frustrations they go through every day trying to do their best to stay on top of the stream of news, balancing priorities and serving the page view master. This post is not meant to be an attack on anyone - just a fun counter-balance to Bekah's post.
The hungry, hungry employees
As founders of startups we have asked other people to risk their livelihood (wives, employees, families, investors and so on) on our crazy idea. Not only are we desperate to see this idea succeed so we can make our own little dent on the universe, but there's also the constant fear of letting those who've bet on us down and having them and their families go hungry!
In any given day you're dealing with product development, business development, fundraising, marketing, family issues, competitors, personal grievances between various stakeholders and the worst enemy of all - time.
You don’t have any visibility
It's hard to explain the sheer terror one feels after you've poured your blood, sweat, tears and money into a project, that, on launch day, it wont get covered... or... just as bad... it will get covered and no one will care.
The reality is, of course, that even with coverage, launch day is often not the big 'build it and they will come' miracle moment most green entrepreneurs think it will be.
In any case, get covered they must and trying to walk that fine line of diligent follow-ups without being annoying with a blogger who is spread too thin to give you a clear response is a nightmarish process.
One would think it would be easier if you're friends with the blogger (as I sometimes am) but in truth it's even harder because you don't want it to ever seem like you're leaning on your friendship to get something written (because that is, of course, NOT the point of your friendship) and you don't want to upset your friend for some announcement.
Another mistake that's easy to make as an Entrepreneur is that you are so intimately aware of every facet of your product and all of the underlaying assumptions and market dynamics that it's very, very easy to screw up your pitch.
After being so close to something its often difficult to see the forrest from the trees in terms of the high level message or newsworthy angle.
Getting outside advice and pitching it to friends first is often a good idea to help with this.
Worse than a lack of personal perspective, though, is the difficulty in knowing what the journalist will actually care about or resonate with. Even if you research what they've written about before there's no guarantee that they still care about that space on the day of the pitch. They may have written about it once as a favor, or written about it endlessly and they are now sick to death of it such that they feel like your 'related app' is just a 'me too' copy. On the other hand If you come in with something fresh it might appear as outside their beat or simply too offbeat.
There's obviously no excuse for pitching a B2B story to a B2C Gaming blogger though!
Again I am very fortunate to work and play with many in the blogger community so I don't need PR people to 'get introductions', but many green entrepreneurs can be utterly lost as to how to get attention for their precious startup.
PR firms, like many other firms in the ecosystem, can often come promising a panacea solution to startup troubles and, more often than not, fail to deliver on lofty goals - particularly if you don't have real money and a strong guiding vision over the process from in-house people.
I definitely feel like reaching out and telling your own story is the best possible approach if you can do it, but often times first time entrepreneurs simply don't have a choice - and it's very easy to find bad service providers.
Commenters are Jerks
I agree most comments are garbage and unfortunately it's pretty clear that female tech bloggers have it much worse than male bloggers. I could write a whole book about this though so let me move on.
Entrepreneurs are people too
Relationships in Silicon Valley, in general, can feel very one sided. Everyone is so busy and moving so fast that it's easy for people to ask for what they need and then forget to reciprocate or touch base at other times.
I've felt this in all kinds of relationships though - not just between Entrepreneurs and Bloggers.
It can also often times feel unfair that bloggers get to pass judgement on your startup or project when they themselves have not been an operator. I've seen this kind of resentment fester - particularly when the coverage is unfavorable.
At the end of the day, though, we're all people, and we're all trying our best to do our jobs to the best of our ability.
We need to remember that each of us is carrying our own personal burdens (both professionally and personally) and each of us is striving to be the hero of our own story.
We should also remember that we're some of the luckiest people on the planet because we get to complain about all this abundance while many are struggling just to survive.
I love all my Entrepreneur and Blogger friends!