Making SH*t Up in PR releases Will Bite You
Here’s a great anecdote from a very experienced Costco broker that is instructive for all fast-growing founders tempted to exaggerate their performance in PR:
“I have lost count of brands bragging about their Costco numbers when they are on podcasts or on LinkedIn. Then I work my back channels and find out the numbers, and so often it’s all hot air.”
It amazes me how many founders, investors, and even serial entrepreneurs get on PR platforms like Bevnet, New Hope, or even the more mainstream trade media and basically beat their chests with non-quantitative statements and hyperbole.
Unfortunately, the average reader may take it at face value, but the smartest folks have access to data that will expose the BS, including outright falsehoods.
“We’re doing great at Target since launch” is an example of phrasing that says nothing empirical but implies a strong topline performance (i.e., growth since launch).
Just because you didn’t quantify “great” doesn’t mean you’re not lying when your $ velocities have collapsed since the first quarter of your launch. All you REALLY did was do a ‘great’ job of selling in a bunch of pallets to Target.
And investors, brokers, and others will find out. Then, what are they to make of your team when you show up to ask for favors? Not much.
Run-rate exaggerations are notorious in CPG PR, amenable to all manner of just plain fantasy and puffery. But, the reader at least isn’t being duped when you tag your # with run-rate.
Please, please, stop the chest-beating in PR. It accomplishes very little in the end aside from attention getting. And if you got the attention on the basis of misrepresenting your performance, any stakeholder who matters in the near term is going to figure it out.
Be humble. Work harder than the competition. Network quietly with stakeholders. Pitch w/humility and outperform. These are the companies who win long-term. Anyone who’s been in the early-stage CPG world for more than five years knows this.