Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Don't Outsource Your Story

If your startup has news to share, you’ve likely been pitching the story to the press. You may have raised money or landed a few celebrity angel investors, or be ready to debut a brand-new version of your app. The press bites and the article goes live. Now what?

Press coverage is a worthy goal. It can introduce you and your product to a new audience. More importantly, it opens doors to potential investors, partners, employees, and more press coverage.

The press story is an important one to tell, but it’s not your story. Your story, the story of your company, is the one you’re telling your customers, the people who use your product and, hopefully, pay you; the early adopters and the people they kindly invited for you. It’s told through emails, blog posts, tweets, meetups, and even App Store updates.

A TechCrunch article is no way for your users and community to hear news about your company.

Startups will sometimes announce something on Twitter by posting a link to a press article or worse, simply retweeting the source. This approach has three core problems:

Where is your focus?

By starting with the press, you reveal where your focus is and what audience you care most about. It’s a quick way to lose credibilty with your community. Once they realize they’re an audience, not a community, that credibility is very hard to restore.

Lack of context

A press piece, no matter how complimentary, lacks any context. Your customers have been with you through the ups and downs. They’re the ones who have experienced the problems your new release is designed to address. They are invested in your story.

Lazy

It’s lazy. If you can work for months on a product, reach out to numerous reporters, make time for interviews and demos, you can certainly spend an hour writing an email and blog post for your existing customers (and I don’t mean publishing the press release). If you’re the key person and writing isn’t your thing, find the person on your team who is a natural storyteller, or reach out to some of the passionate people in your community.

If you won’t take the time share your story with the people who use your product, you can’t expect them to share it with others.