Do Startups Really Need Media Coverage?

iwanttheworld222-thumbIf there’s one thing startup entrepreneurs crave, it’s media and blog coverage.

Attracting the media spotlight can arguably be as important to them as getting customers. How come? In many respects, media coverage somehow validates what an entrepreneur is doing, the product developed and the risks taken. And it’s a great way to impress friends and family.

But is media coverage that important? Does it matter if TechCrunch, the Globe & Mail, GigaOm or VentureBeat deems your startup to be worthy of their attention? If so, what are the benefits other than a flurry of traffic and a sweet link on your “Media” page.

This is not to suggest media coverage has no value but startups spend too much time hoping someone (anyone!) to pay attention to them. It’s like growing the business isn’t good enough if no one – other than their customers – knows about how well they’re doing.

Truth be told, media coverage is a crapshoot. I wish there was a magical formula that would guarantee coverage: take one interesting product, mix in a snazzy quote, sprinkle in some unique features and a touch of cockiness, and, voila, media coverage. If only it was that easy.

In the real world, media coverage happens for all kinds of reasons that may have nothing to do with how interesting you or your startup may be, or the traction that’s going on. Media coverage happens because it may be a slows news day, or you met the reporter/blogger at a conference, or a friend raved about your product at a dinner party, or the PR person you hired knows everyone so they can call in all kinds of favours.

It makes media coverage impossible to predict. When you’re convinced the media will be all over your story, they’re nowhere to be found. But when you offhandedly toss a tidbit into the wind, the media can’t get enough of you.

At the end of the day, media coverage is a bonus/cherry on top of the sundae but it’s really not that important.

What’s important is driving the business, delighting customers and getting them to become your marketing machine.

Links: For startups looking to attract media coverage, April Dunford has some tips. AOnStartups has a complete guide to getting media coverage, while Forbes has a three-step plan for successful cold-mailing.

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  • Esteban Contreras

    I agree that the focus should not be media coverage. However, there are two things that media coverage does:

    1) It accelerates what you’re doing. Flipboard benefitted A LOT from Robert Scoble’s coverage of their app. It changed everything for them. Sure, Scoble covers a lot of startups and few had the product/team/etc that Flipboard had, but that validation created a whole lot of awareness and credibility.

    2) Media coverage confirms that you’re unto something. When working with Samsung I selected Sprinklr as SMMS of choice even though the company was very stealthy in its approach. There was no coverage about them out there even though industry thought leaders, practitioners and analysts had great things to say. Now that I’m working with Sprinklr, coverage is starting to happen (interviews with the CEO, buzz around Sprinklr’s ebooks and news about raising funding). Such coverage is confirmation of what has been there all along. Sprinklr doesn’t need it, but it provides greater credibility and further helps position the company as a true leader.

    My two cents. Nice blog. Keep up the great work.