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TechCrunch is one of the blogs that I check on a daily basis. If there's a blog that falls under the category of 'must-read', TechCrunch is it.
TechCrunch made a name for itself by covering new internet startups in Silicon Valley and has a reputation of breaking important technology news.
But a post on TechCrunch yesterday really bothered me. It was titled 'DEMO Gets Desperate: Shipley Out, Marshall In' and it reported on a change in management at DEMO, the prominent product-launch conference that takes place every year in California.
A bit of background: TechCrunch runs its own product-launch conference that competes with DEMO. Unlike DEMO, TechCrunch doesn't charge companies to launch at its conference. TechCrunch and DEMO have different models and different philosophies. Last year, that led to an ugly brawl between the two conferences that many, myself included, felt crossed a line and did a disservice both conferences' participants.
But the past is the past and that's the way it should be. So I was really disappointed to read TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld use the news of DEMO's appointment of a new conference organizer to attack DEMO, writing such things as:
DEMO could certainly use the new blood.
But Marshall is going to have to do a lot more than appeal to the chin-strokers in the audience. He is going to have to reinvigorate a dying brand.
It is fine by us if DEMO sticks to its model of extorting startups.
Worse: Schonfeld posted a photo with a 'X' over the face of Chris Shipley, who had been DEMO's organizer for 13 years.
Truth is, I don't care about the competition between DEMO and TechCrunch. I read TechCrunch for startup news. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm sure both TechCrunch and DEMO put on great conferences that bring out great companies and great people. Which one will win out? Personally, I think there's enough room for two product-launch conferences but if there isn't the market will decide.
What's problematic is subjecting readers to a negative attack over a battle that they have no involvement or interest in.
Even if you don't read TechCrunch and, like me, could care less about the battle between it and DEMO, there's a lesson here. The lesson is that negativity sucks.
Sure, the world isn't filled with flowers and rainbows but no matter what business you're in, chances are the people you serve prefer positive things to negative things. It's human nature.
When advertising your product, talk about what it does really well. Don't talk about how your competitor's product is the worst thing in the world. When blogging about your industry, explain how great your co-workers are. Don't attack the character of the people who work for your competitors.
The truth is that positivity sells. And for good reason: people who are confident about what they're doing and what they're selling don't feel the need to 'go negative'. People who aren't confident? Well, you get the drift.
This is probably more true today given the negative economic atmosphere. In my opinion, in some cases if you can cheer someone up and make them smile, you just might earn a sale today.
So here are a few common sense tips when it comes to presenting a positive image of yourself and your company:
- Talk about what you do well, not about what other people do poorly. That's what your prospective customers and clients are interested in anyway.
- If you don't have anything nice to say, think twice. Chances are that you can find something nice to say. If you can't, consider that not saying anything at all might be the best course of action.
- Provide some constructive criticism. If you want to compare and contrast between your company and its competitors, present it in the form of constructive criticism that would help your competitors if they were reading what you wrote. In the process, you'll show prospective customers and clients that you know what you're talking about. And that you're not a mean, insecure person, which might be just as beneficial.
It's too late for Erick Schonfeld to take back his negativity but it's not too late for you to prevent yourself from falling into the same trap. While Schonfeld's post isn't going to cause me to stop reading TechCrunch, the TechCrunch 'brand' went down a notch in my book.
When it comes to your business, don't expect your customers/clients and potential customers/clients to maintain a positive image of you for long when you subject them to negativity. No matter how big you are in the market.