I recently received an email announcing the launch of a new product with an invitation to review an attached 3-minute YouTube overview. Subsequent emails about the logistics of a demo showed growing hesitancy on the part of the sender. The conversation then culminated with a comment about wanting to hold off writing anything until the app was “polished.” This brings us to mistake No. 1 — not being ready. In addition, corporate speak and “off-the-record” comments aren’t winning you any favors with the press.

  • Have no more than two, preferably one, primary contact at a company for relaying news to the media. The second should serve only as a back-up.
  • Reporters are reasonable people until they're given a reason not to be.
  • Careful wording is good, as long as the words mean something.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

I recently received an email announcing the launch of a new product with an invitation to review an attached 3-minute YouTube overview.

Subsequent emails about the logistics of a demo showed growing hesitancy on the part of the sender. The conversation then culminated with a comment about wanting to hold off writing anything until the app was “polished.”

This brings us to mistake No. 1

1. Not being truly ready

Do not send anything about your product or company news to a member of the media until it is good to go.

With respect to lingering bugs or updates with software, share them. Rarely would I view a new product’s slights as reason to discourage users from considering it.

You could request an embargo — that’s journalism lingo for deliberately withholding news until an agreed-upon date — but embargoes have to be earned first, then heavily justified.

Know this: If it’s in our inbox because a known source or company stakeholder sent it, err on the side of it becoming news.

2. Frequently making ‘off-the-record’ comments

Like embargoes, “off-the-record” comments need to be earned.

In an interview, just saying “off the record” doesn’t make it so. If something slips that won’t advance the story, most reporters will be reasonable about it. If someone reveals something personally salacious, often reporters will discuss it with editors and higher-ups before deciding to publish.

Use tact when asking if something can be left out, and usually more than one request will be met with frustration.

Rarely would I view a new product’s slights as reason to discourage users from considering it.

3. Over-promising

When you outsource your news, make sure your public relations partner isn’t more concerned about earning you coverage than the quality of that coverage.

On several occasions, I’ve read through product announcements tantamount to promising they’ll be colonizing a call center on Jupiter’s outer rings before year’s end.

If you can’t change the world, don’t say you can. If you promise access to the CEO, don’t tell us she or he is sick, visiting family or not in today.

4. Underdelivering

This especially applies to product developers. If your pre-launch press release went gangbusters and market insiders are salivating, great, you have us where you want us.

But are you prepared to deliver?

Too many orders? Not enough support? Web traffic jammed? You can have too much of a good thing.

Read this case study about how the founders of Casper dealt with an unexpected flood of mattress orders upon launch.

5. Trying too hard to control the message

Careful wording is good, as long as the words mean something. While a media member may see the story as “A,” a company that demands it be “B” isn’t helping its message.

Flat, by-the-book statements designed to hedge and professionally obscure tend to frustrate the media. If you reached out, prepare to share the whole story, not just the parts you want told.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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