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Sep 26 2010

Getting PR changes perceptions, not your business

Jason Calacanis has often said on This Week in Startups that getting PR means nothing to your business: "Don't get high on your own supply."

While others congratulate him when he gets publicity, he doesn't want to read it, just put it in a box for posterity. His point is that media coverage is about what you've already done. You've probably moved on to tackling the next challenge by the time the public sees it. Plus, it's easy for a journalist to write a feel-good story about a business that's failing: all he has to do is find an angle. The more important question is how your business is doing as seen from the inside. However, there is one effect of press that an entrepreneur shouldn't ignore: its effect on others' perceptionof your business. While you've been working away developing your product, the public probably hasn't heard about it. So when you do get press for your efforts, it can inspire others to connect with your business and mission.

Launch event for Google

For example, when iSpeedShop won the 2010 DC Startup Weekend, we didn't receive any financial prize (though the prize of legal services from Clarity Law Group is very valuable!). It didn't make us a successful business, or even one with a product ready to sell.

But we did gain some credibility from potential co-founders: rather than just having an idea, we have an award-winning plan and prototype. This is a form of social proof where people are more comfortable getting behind something that others have already vetted. We've used this win to attract high-quality talent, and it prompted a person on our mailing list to give us a valuable contact.

So don't read your press for you sake, but do share positive PR for others' sake on your web site and in your recruiting efforts.

Image credit: Google launch event: keso.

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