Magic Leap – Communications Lessons For Every Startup

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Magic Leap – Communications Lessons For Every Startup

I’m going to be honest with you – I don’t know much about Magic Leap. Earlier this week I started seeing Google Alerts about them losing their Head of PR. Reading a few stories it struck me that there are some lessons every entrepreneur can learn from the company when it comes to public relations, marketing and publicity.

It appears the media consensus on why former head of PR Andy Fouché left was a series of less than flattering media articles. If it was, then it highlights the problems with trying to manage reputation via the media. Startups are going to get a combination of positive and negative press. It’s par for the course.  The key is to manage it.

Publicity NOT pr

I don’t know Fouché but, if he’s like many heads of PR he appears to have focused on publicity, not PR. It’s a common mistake. Startups rely on media coverage as their primary communications channel for all stakeholders, rather than using media as one of a portfolio of channels. Key relationships shouldn’t be weakened by negative media coverage. Had they been built via more traditional and direct channels this would not happen.

In TechCrunch‘s article, ‘Magic Leap loses its head of PR following rough week of bad PR’ explains, “Magic Leap has run its marketing efforts like an overzealous Kickstarter and its PR like a certain tight-lipped Cupertino tech company.” It asks for money before throwing stakeholders a treat and tries to communicate like a 40-year old company, with 115,000+ employees, $200+ billion in revenue – and a track record of delivering products like the iPod, iPhone, iPad as well as multiple industry-changing personal computers.

Startups need to stop trying to communicate like Fortune 500 companies and more like startups!

Personally, I think that Fouché left for personal reasons.  He’s gone from one stealth startup to another.  But I’m speculating.

Common Startup PR Problems

Reading the Magic Leap website I’m no clearer about exactly what they do.  The whale is cool.  The dinosaur in the living room… interesting.  The desktop galaxy… but little about what they do.  They say they’re excited to show us what they’re working on, but… we have to be patient.

This highlights another common startup and smallbiz problem I encounter.  A lack of specificity.  There’s a lot of hype. No lack of excitement to show us what they’re working on.  Cool animations.  Jargon. Acronyms.  But there’s just nothing tangible.

Too many startups and small businesses try to be smart communicators – and end up saying very little that is intelligible.

They try to build and manage relationships indirectly via media and websites.  Many confuse publicity with PR.  Most over-hype and under-deliver.

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