"Because everybody does that…"

Yesterday I spoke to a friend who owns a business. He asked me about press releases…

Him: “We are considering doing a press release for a new product we are launching. Why don’t you do them at Schedulefly.”

Me: “Well, let me ask you something first…Why do you want to do one?”

Him: “Because that’s what everybody else does.”

Me: “That’s exactly why we don’t do them!”

O.K., so it’s not just because everybody else issues press releases that we don’t do them. Everybody else pays their employees, and so do we! Rather, here’s the types of questions we ask ourselves at Schedulefly when deciding whether to do certain things that are common business practices…

Would we be really, really good at writing press releases? Because if we aren’t really, really good at something, we don’t do it. So if we were going to issue press releases, I would put a ton of focus into learning how to write very compelling ones. I wouldn’t issue one until I knew it was going to stand out from everybody else’s. I’d spend TONS of time learning how to do that. And I would also go work my ass off to develop one-on-one relationships with reporters from the publications I want to report on Schedulefly. I would make sure to send them copies of our releases and call them to discuss the releases with them. I would do everything it took to make sure when we issued a release, we were going to get coverage. (By the way we wouldn’t hire a PR firm to write releases for us because we like to handle as many aspects of our business as possible by ourselves and not involved outsiders. Plus we find that not letting ourselves pay for services like this forces us to be much more creative than if we relied on others, so if we did press releases, we’d definitely do them ourselves.)

But the next question makes the previous null and void…

Do we have anything going on that to tell the world about that we would care about if we weren’t involved with Schedulefly? Would our press releases be so compelling that they would stand out from the rest of the noise and media recipients would say, “WOW! Now this is interesting!!! Oh we’ve got to run this story!!!”? As much as I’d like that to be the case, the answer is a resounding No. I mean, isn’t that how you should look at it when you issue a release? “If I had no personal attachment to my business, would I care about this?” In our case, the answer right now is, No. And if truth be told I believe that’s often the case when businesses issue press releases.

We also ask ourselves, “Is this something we would enjoy?” The answer, once again, is No. Just as we don’t do things unless we plan to be very good at them, and we don’t do things we don’t enjoy. We didn’t enjoy using Facebook and Twitter, so we stopped. We don’t enjoy working on traditional marketing, so we don’t. And we wouldn’t enjoy working on press releases, so we don’t. Our business will thrive if we focus on the things we like to work on, because it’s easy to become very, very good at things you really look forward to working on them. For us, that’s our app, our customer service, and our book/articles/video series.

There are more reasons we don’t do press releases, but you get the idea. Every now and then it’s good to take a hard look at every aspect of your business that is conventional and ask yourself whether you are doing it for the right reasons. Try asking “Why” like a five year old, and you may find that you can’t come up with another reason than “Because everybody else is doing it.”