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How the Tech Press Forces a Narrative on Companies it Covers, by Aaron Zamost on Medium Backchannel


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This is a great quote:

“You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” — Lou Holtz

The press writes stories. Stories need narratives. Therefore, the press forces narratives.

By the way, I got distracted by this Jessica Livingston article...

https://medium.com/backchannel/the-little-known-story-behind-why-i-started-y-combinator-4f36cb18f74d

...before I could fully appreciate the clock theory article.

Will include my favorite parts of the clock article below.

You're right that the clock theory is pretty brilliant:

A company’s narrative moves like a clock: it starts at midnight, ticking off the hours. The tone and sentiment about how a business is doing move from positive (sunrise, midday) to negative (dusk, darkness). And often the story returns to midnight, rebirth and a new day.

It was a passing remark, and hardly revolutionary — it closely followed thehero’s journey and other theories of storytelling. But it made a ton of sense.

Over the years, I developed the idea by filling in the times on the clock. It has helped to be in tech; startups in particular, always begin with a “founding story,” and follow a typical path through Silicon Valley Time (SVT). It’s not perfect, of course. Companies can skip an hour — or in some cases several. Others get stuck along the way, and with a stalled narrative (and broken clock) cease to be relevant.

I really like this line: "Today, it’s 4:00 at Slack. Everyone loves Slack."

ya, this was pretty insightful for a guy like me. I like to go against the grain in everything. When everyone zigs, I'm the guy zagging. But to get press, you have to go with the grain. Give them what they want to write about, or else they wont write about you. Not that a write up ought to be a goal or anything, but sometimes it is. 

That's true. And as the article points out, most companies don't get to 2:00.

I like Aaron's advice: Don't Force Anything, Be Humble, and Focus on Your Customers and Your Team.

3. Be humble.

Your company isn’t perfect. You’ve made mistakes. It’s OK to own up to them. Humility shrinks the target on your back. What would you have done differently? What have you learned? How will you apply those lessons moving forward? Being reasonable also gives you credibility. You’ll have more battles to fight in the future — don’t waste your credibility fighting something that’s already been litigated. Save it: it’s a precious resource.

4. Focus on your customers and your team.

If you read the news in 2010, Google was over: Android phones couldn’t compare to the iPhone. Chrome market share was in the single digits. Facebook was launching a Gmail killer. We know how those stories ended. Instead of worrying about the press, Google focused on its users, made even more big bets, and built great products. They continued to make Google an amazing place to work that kept employees happy, passionate, and motivated.

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