One of my pet peeves is that some startups focus too much on the press as marketing or user acquisition strategies. The attitude is much more strong in Japanese companies, but you see it everywhere.
The idea of coordinated product and marketing launch probably stems from the experience at more established companies. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it doesn’t really make sense for early stage startups. Because, at that point, you are still figuring out the right product for the right market (yes, this is marketing as well), and your assumption could be totally wrong. The power of such press coverage isn’t much of discovery, it is about amplification. So, if you are wrong, you will let everybody knows that you have no clue. Not a smart thing to do, is it?
Today’s GigaOM article better explains this point with quotes from Eric Ries, so check it out.
Or worse, you are maybe skipping “figuring out” phase and simply believe that once you build your awesome product and get grand publicity for it, people will flock to your product and the user number skyrocket from there on. I must say that’s just too naïve. Yes, that happens and you could be one of the lucky ones, but the likelihood of this happening is so small, you (or your investor) will end up wasting lots of money and time.
Product launch and marketing launch can be and should be separated. By all means, go out with your product early and iterate often. You can’t be at the other end of spectrum, stealth mode, being too secretive about what you are making. Because you won’t be learning anything in that way.
Getting some press coverage by influential media certainly gives you a wave of traffic, but if you are not ready to ride on that wave, it could work against you. As getting on such media is not an easy task, you should use your shot wisely.