Tag Archives: NetworkWorld

Diamonds, Tattoos and Bad Reviews Are Forever: or, When You’re Not Ready — Stay Home (Part I)

A few weeks back, I was perusing ReadWriteWebfor my daily dose of insight and Web 2.0 news.  And I came across this headline:

SocialU: One of the Most Obnoxious Apps We’ve Seen in Awhile

The piece is harsh.  I had to wonder, what was SocialU thinking in pushing for a review?

Oh yes, I’ve been there.  Not often, because I think we’ve established that I try to be honest with all concerned for everyone’s sake…but once would have been too many times.  (I was even there recently, after being assured that all bugs were fixed – more on that in the next post)

A note about PR:  We often can get you or your product in front of the media — maybe even in front of Big Media.  And here’s what we at Hoffman tell our clients: if you succeed, you succeed in front of tens, maybe hundreds of thousands.  In the case of someone like Walt Mossberg, possibly millions.

But, we add, if you, your product or service fail — well, you fail in front of that same number.   And it could look like this:

SocialU is a half-baked, condescending, poorly designed, ad-ridden lifestreaming app built in Adobe AIR. We’d refrain from writing about it, but the things we dislike about it seem worth mentioning and with all the frothy clone-like startups flying around on the web, who doesn’t like seeing one that deserves it get a good blog-lashing sometimes?

Half-baked?  Condescending?  Poorly-designed?  Ouch.

And that‘s from a reasonable, thoughtful, smart as heck writer like Marshall Kirkpatrick.  He doesn’t strike me as taking pride in being a “gotcha” writer.  Some venues could have been worse (in other words, good thing ValleyWag doesn’t do many reviews).

You’d think any good PR counsel would have stood in the figurative doorway, with the tactical equivalent of a Howitzer, barring SocialU from exposing its half-baked service to the scrutiny of the media until it was, um…baked. Right?

Right.  But even good PR counsel can be ignored.

So here’s the point of my little rant:  if the product or service isn’t ready?

Stay home.

Show Marshall’s review to the Board that’s breathing down your neck for coverage.  Better good coverage in a month, than “condescending, half-baked” tomorrow.  Or show your Director of Marketing a crappy review from TechCrunch, or Mossberg or NetworkWorld — wherever your product plays.  Then, in your mind, imagine your own product there.  Or imagine the Twitter-ites calling you out and posting your blog and reviews across the world on those cute TinyURLs.

Oh.  Need to throw up just a little?

I bring this up also because the economy’s sucking like a refurbished Hoover, and there will undoubtedly be more pressure to get results.

But let’s be clear: no Board pressure, no amount of denial of whether your “baby” has warts (or whether the silly media will overlook said warts)  will make up for someone calling your baby crap in front of hundreds of thousands of people, and telling said legions that it would be a waste of their time/money to try/subscribe/buy it.  And I as a PR person — even a damned good one — can’t change what the product delivers.

So.  Work on it, nurture it, start over if you have to.  This isn’t high school picture day, with re-takes in three weeks.  Because remember what your Mom told you about how you “don’t get a second chance to make a first impression?”

It’s almost impossible on the Internet, where a bad review lives forever.

More on this subject in my next post, but if you have a startup (or even a mature company) and disagree, please weigh in.

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