Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to talk on a Los Angeles Venture Association panel on hints and tips on press relations for startups. I thought I’d expand on that topic, after I recently had the CEO of a company take issue with one of our stories, which is not unusual. What is unusual, however, is the rabid reaction of the (un-named) CEO to what was a fairly straightforward reporting on an SEC filing (which are notoriously incomplete with regards to details on fundings).
1. Stay professional. Even if you do think the editor or writer is a big pile of elephant you-know-what, and you really think more of the doggy doo you stepped in than the editor, keep it professional. It doesn’t help anyone to badmouth the writer, hurl personal insults, and/or otherwise, to get the story right. As most of us learned in kindergarten, it helps to ask nicely when you need something from someone, even if you don’t agree with them.
2. Correct the record. If the story is inaccurate, and the editor asks you to please correct them, do so. Writers and editors are happy to fix any factual issues with a story, add explanatory comments, or even insert your direct quotes into a story when it pertains directly to the matter at hand. The quest for more journalists and (most) professional bloggers is to illuminate the truth.
3. Delegate. If you really, really have a problem with a story and can’t keep from frothing at the mouth when talking to a writer, delegate it to a PR agency, your marketing person, your investor, or anyone who knows how to deal with the press.
4. Your reputation proceeds you. Publishers and editors talk to each other about interesting companies and products; they’re often involved in selecting companies for awards; they also talk lots to investors and your partners. If you’ve gain a reputation as a less-than-stellar human being, that reputation proceeds you, and could jeapordize your next business sale, your next investment, your next coverage. As in life in general, you ought to treat others like you’d want to be treated. You don’t have to agree with the coverage; you just need to act in a civil manner and work to get the record straight.
5. Don’t sabotage your own future coverage. Would you expect that editor you just insulted to even take a look at your new product? Do you think the person you just insulted to ever write favorably about you? I didn’t think so.
Anyway, those reading this probably know all of this, and the CEO in question above undoubtedly would take issue to all of these (watch for the rabid comments!!). But, I thought I’d share it in case it spared anyone future grief with pretty much any editor, writer, or blogger.