If you’ve never worked with reporters or been involved with press announcements you may not know how to deal with timing when going to reporters with news. Over the past few years I’ve generally learned how to deal with it. Knowing this doesn’t mean that everyone that you want will cover your news, but it does make sure you give reporters enough time to get back to you and decide if it is interesting enough for them.
To explain timing I’ll use SocialRank’s recent funding and product announcement. We announced the funding and new product on May 13th at 11am ET. To make sure we received coverage I began reaching out to reporters on May 1st and 2nd (a Thursday and Friday).
The messaging in the reach-out was that we’d have some news coming out on the week of the 11th (not needing to commit to a hard date yet) and that we wanted to give them an early look. I also said that it would be a combination of a fundraise news, a new product, and some numbers sharing. This gave them enough to pique their interest. I also tried to keep it short.
Some got back to me immediately saying they were interested in chatting. Others got back and said it wasn’t a good fit for them or that they’d pass. I scheduled times to sit down with the ones who were interested. Ones that didn’t respond got a follow up email on Tuesday and Wednesday (in this case May 5th or 6th).
At the same time I put together two blog posts about our announcements (not one post on purpose in this case). At the end of speaking on the phone or in person with reporters I told them that I would follow up with a firm date of announcement and the unpublished blog. Within 24 hours of talking I sent them the blog posts and the hard date.
From there you need to make sure that the reporters, who want to cover you, have everything they need to be successful. This is everything from trying the product to giving them an answer to any question they might have.
And this is it. Cross your fingers that it all works out. It is mostly out of your hands. Some people plan on covering and it falls to the wayside because something bigger comes out at the same time, but this post should be a good indicator of the timing around dealing with press.
They say timing is everything. For specific roles at startups, they would be correct.
I’ve noticed that a big piece of whether someone is a good fit at a startup depends on the timing of their hiring. Sometimes companies are not ready for specific roles. This makes sense. But also, one person could be saying something really smart for a long time, make no progress, leave or be let go and then someone else can come along say the same things but this time action is taken. I’ve seen it happen time and time again at a range of startups and it just seems that is the way things are.
Hiring at startups goes hand and hand with success. If you make the wrong hire it will kill your company or at least slow it down a handful of months (the process of hiring, bringing up-to-speed, firing, finding someone new, bringing up-to-speed, etc., is a long one).Bottom line: Startup hiring is tough. Timing is a big piece of the process and if you aware of it, you can use it to your advantage (i.e. not hiring roles too early, etc).
They say timing is everything. In the case of SocialRank, they are right.
Originally we planned to launch on February 11th. Looking back, this was unrealistic, but it was the original launch date of our product. Thank goodness we didn’t launch then because during that afternoon Klout was bought. Bullet number one dodged.
The second launch date was February 19th. We ended up pushing it as we got some feedback from brands (i.e. add individual and brand filters) and wanted to implement before launch. This is where we dodged bullet number two, because on the 19th Whatsapp was bought for almost $20B. That dominated the internet for a good few days.
I’m writing this piece before we launch on Tuesday (two days ago, when I post this) not to say something big won’t come out then, but because you can’t always control all the major things going on in the world. We didn’t push our launch for anything else besides the product not being ready for primetime.
Bottom line: Timing your launch is bull. You can’t control other factors out there. Launching your product when it is ready and continuing with improvements post launch is the best you can do.
They say timing is everything. They are right.
Timing takes a bit of skill and a bit of luck. That equation equals success. Without timing you can have all the skill but you always just miss the boat.
Timing does come a bit from skill, but is also something some people get by understanding what is available now (technologically). This leads one to understand what they can do now vs. what they can do in 5 years.
A good friend of mine is working on an enterprise startup. She is one of the brightest people I know. The current project she is working on is not her biggest passion, but she is passionate enough to make it a big success. She told me that her biggest passion, what she really wants to work on, is not yet possible. The technology is not going to be available for a few years, so in the meantime she wants to build a useful and successful company so that when the technology is available to work on her big passion, she will be in a good position to do so.
Now, not everyone can see or properly predict the future. And, who knows, maybe my friend is wrong. Maybe the technology will never come. But trying to figure out what may come and spotting trends is something you need to understand, think about, and act upon. Timing is indeed everything.