Monday, March 3, 2008

PR musings

Ari and our team have a tough choice ahead of us.

On the PR question, we are bounded by the Scylla and Charybdis of expectation and anonymity.

Scylla: Getting the word out to seed excitement about our company in order to support the website launch.....BUT ALSO.....Setting expectations with our fans with which they "hang" us even if we are the most exciting game in town. For a great example of this see the media roasting that Tesla has taken in the last year.

Charybdis: Running dark to allow us maximum focus time on our efforts without interruption.....BUT ALSO.....losing critical momentum by not supporting our website launch.

Both approaches have very valid upsides, and both have very possible downsides.

Here is my take. Tesla's plight is real and cannot be discounted. Local Motors cannot be arrogant or wishful enough to think that we can manage the press better than they have. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to do so, but if anything it will be owing to the fact that we are not pursuing an untested electric-powered driveline.

Therefore, assuming that we are all treated equally to our share of delays and to media scrutiny, the anonymity early on would feel really good. Unfortunately, we have to launch the website, and without a launch, we will not have the luxury of fulfilling an expectation, or even setting one, because no one will be part of our design community and because an important part of our business will be missing.

This seems like we are damned in either direction, but it does not have to be that way. I believe that we should drive the publicity to make the web launch a success and work hard to make the media focus on those achievements that we can directly effect. Basically, tout the small successes. For those 37signals and John Paul Jones disciples out there, you will know from where I am coming from on the subjects recognizing small successes and minor meritorious acts. Certainly honesty and full disclosure can go a long way to helping us in this effort. Perhaps this blog is the first step along that road.

You've heard where I stand. Let's hear your thoughts.

A) Use the Publicity

B) Run Dark


Glenn Mercer said...

A tough call no doubt. Thus I will waffle! Go for the launch and the PR but under-promise and over-deliver. A series of pleasant upside surprises (kinda like Japanese baseball... some walks some bunts some singles) works better than swinging for the fences and then fanning (American baseball). Also, please (unlike Tesla) continue to refrain, as you have mostly done, from trashing rivals or Detroit: I know Tesla made no friends when they said gasoline was stupid and evil. Better to show that electric is better than to assault the technology that is near and dear to a few billion people. So, IMHO, launch, but launch modest and without glorious manifestos... then keep surprising people on the upside.

Local Motorhead said...

Thank you Glenn,

You have said the Sooth. Your counsel is MUCH appreciated. You can bet on us following this approach.

Very Respectfully,
The LM Team

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