Interestingly enough I just stumbled upon an old IRC conversation where I was asking some PR questions to Robin “Roblimo” Mille, editor of NewsForge. It’s pretty old (the file date says April 2004), but I thought it was still interesting…

fplanque: should we position our product against the competition by mentioning competitor names and pros/cons

roblimo: fplanque, This is touchy. A company we’ll called “TinyLimp” to disguise their true identity is currently giving Linux great credibility by telling people to compare it to a product we’ll call “Doors."
How many people would not have considered Linux at all without reading the TinyLimp sponsored case studies that “prove” TinyLimp products are better?
Comparisons are good when you’re the underdog, but are usually not smart when you dominate a market.
(If any TinyLimp people are reading this, I hope you keep your present course, though.)

Let me add to this a bit….
Honest comparisons work, and dishonest ones don’t. Ad maven Jerry Della Femina once said nothing can sink a bad product faster than a big ad budget.
His example was a beer hardly anyone liked that his agency designed a successful campaign for.
The problem with PR and promo is that it can get people to try a product, but that’s all. If the product sucks, they’ll try it and kick it to the curb. Getting more people to try a bad product just makes it fail faster.
This is the underlying point, always: Stumbling, badly written PR for a great piece of software is always better that slick PR for crap.
PR is simply telling the world that your project exists.

fplanque: should we write different press releases for each journalist, making each one more focused on the interests and backgroung knowledge of a particular publication?

roblimo: That would be a lot of work. I’d say it’s more practical to write press release for different types of publications.
Think of a guitar notation program. You’d make one press release for music pubs, another for software pubs – and if it’s FOSS, yet another one for FOSS pubs, which is where a plea for developers or testers might be best.

Comments from long ago:

Comment from: Anonymous

I disagree with the opinion that weak promo for a good product is better than a great PR for a bad product. As you mentioned the relation that a good promo for a bad product makes it fail faster and that´s good cause you can react faster, remove it faster from the market and avoid more damage to your company. So for me it´s essential to always have good promotion. Anyway you promo your products cause you are convinced that they are useful to the costumers somehow, but the acceptabillity can only be revealed under the real, brutal conditions of the markets.

2008-08-25 11-36

Comment from: Home Based MLM

I would agree with Anonymous. PR will, more often than not, attribute to the success of a product. For example, there a lot of video games that don’t become as hugely successful as those from a popular series, even though they are as good or even better, simply because they lack PR and are spread only by word of mouth.

2009-10-23 07-30