This post was inspired by this tweet from tech journalist Jacky Yap. In the tweet he is rightly puzzled at an entrepreneur who got angry about some slightly negative coverage of their startup. It's the fear of negative coverage or negative opinion that can prevent an entrepreneur from ever launching their startup - and it's a misguided fear. After all, as Reid Hoffman is often quoted as saying:
If you aren't ashamed of your product, you've shipped too late.
And he's absolutely right.
Here's 5 points to remember about the positive sides of negative press. Don't let the fear of negative opinion affect your confidence - keep talking to the press about your startups and apps!
Some exposure is better than no exposure
Or said in another way: regarding the press, the only thing worse than being talked about in a bad way... is not being talked about at all. Exposure alone can be a powerful catalyst and it's worth reminding yourself that over time, a negative impression can fade - but that increased awareness about your startup will remain. There's much smarter people than me who say that if you're relatively obscure, bad press can be a good thing indeed. (also known as the Rebecca Black Phenomenon)
It's an opportunity to make things right
Did you screw up? The spotlight is on you now to make things right again, and if you do it well, users / customers will love you for it - and you get to play the hero with an increased audience! Or perhaps your app / startup just sucks in general? Well now you have an opportunity to listen to feedback, read the comments and tweets forming around the negative press, and go away and iterate. I used to work at a company that had to pay users to get their feedback, so if I get free feedback whether it's good or bad, I'm grateful.
Articles don't write themselves. A journalist spent time writing about your startup, even if it turned out negative. That's a good sign! It's an indication that somebody out there cares enough about your startup to consider it worth talking about - they want to like your startup, you just screwed up along the way somewhere. A negative opinion is an order of magnitude better than total indifference.
There's inherent value in being mentioned - most likely with a bunch of relevant keywords - on a tech blog with a pagerank higher than yours.
It's good practice
Most companies screw up in some form or another eventually! Be thankful that you're getting an early lesson in how to handle a negative publicity event so that when/if you make a big mistake later on, you know how to handle yourself. Bad press can be beneficial to obscure companies, but can be highly detrimental to established companies if not handled expertly.