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Use media criticism to assist your online business transfer ahead within the crowd

16, 2020

8 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

One trait that applies to most new business owners is hopeless optimism. While many entrepreneurs and start-up owners remain grounded when it comes to budgeting and running a business, they may not be as prudent when it comes to media criticism. In fact, most startup owners expect nothing but praise and applause when their product or service hits the market. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case.

However, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Instead of throwing in the towel when you receive negative feedback, use media criticism to your advantage. When it comes to leveraging media criticism, there are essentially two schools of thought. One approach is the “P.T. Barnum Pro-Criticism "technique; The other is Eric Reis' strategy of "adaptive learning". While the two methods are very different, they provide two ways for you to turn negative media criticism into a useful tool for growing your business and ultimately differentiating yourself from the competition.

What is media criticism?

It may sound like a no-brainer, but many first-time entrepreneurs assume that any type of negative feedback qualifies as media criticism. In fact, there is a huge difference between consumers who rate your business poorly on Yelp and a journalist who criticizes your startup in a reputable publication. So let's evaluate the differences between consumer criticism and media criticism.

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Consumer criticism

Consumer criticism refers to any type of negative criticism of you, your product, your service or your company by a customer or customer. For example, let's say you run a company that provides digital marketing services. A customer uses your services, is unhappy with their experience and decides to give your company a negative review.

This is a prime example of consumer criticism. It's just a form of negative feedback from a client or client. More importantly, the client is neither a public figure nor an influence over a larger audience. However, your feedback will likely be public so it can negatively impact your business and potentially scare off future customers.

Media criticism

Alternatively, media criticism refers to negative feedback from a public and / or authoritative source. Sometimes consumer criticism can also be media criticism. For example, if a well-known Youtube star makes a purchase from your startup and creates a negative review video for their Youtube channel, it is both a form of consumer and media criticism.

In any event, media criticism generally comes from individuals or organizations that have a large audience or that can have a significant impact on public opinion. Here are some examples:


Prominent social media influencers or bloggers


Newspapers, magazines and other media

Television programs, radio broadcasts and podcasts

Needless to say, there can be many different sources of media criticism. When faced with media criticism many new startup owners may feel the urge to break down under the pressure. Finally, it can be painful to be the target of public criticism from a popular or authoritative source. So how can you overcome the initial hurdles and use media criticism to your own advantage?

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Different approaches to managing and leveraging media criticism

As mentioned earlier, there are two unique approaches to leveraging media criticism. The first approach is the “P.T. Barnum Pro-Criticism ”method. This is a fairly famous – and perhaps infamous – strategy developed by the world famous New York showman and founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus, P.T. Barnum. So let's take a closer look at the infamous showman's strategy of using media criticism to grow his entertainment empire.

P.T. Barnum's pro-critical method

Although P.T. Barnum has tried his hand at a wide variety of endeavors – from politics to journalism – and is best known for his traveling circus and widespread jokes. He became very successful because of his keen observation that media criticism can be a good thing. Indeed, many historians attribute the famous quote "There is no bad press" (sometimes quoted as "There is no bad publicity") to Barnum.

One of Barnum's most famous jokes was the "Feejee Mermaid," the corpse of a monkey sewn to the tail of a fish and using paper mache to make certain parts of the head and body. Despite its highly questionable authenticity, thousands of people flocked to New York's Barnum Museum to see the exhibit. In this case, Barnum used controversy and negative media attention to expand his empire. This was further illustrated by his second most popular joke, "General Tom Thumb".

As part of his traveling circus, Barnum employed several dwarfs and little people, one of whom was referred to as "General Tom Thumb". The young man started performing at the age of 4 and Barnum claimed he was "the smallest person who has ever walked alone". The act was so popular that Barnum took it to Europe, where Queen Victoria was both entertained and saddened by the young entertainer. His appearance in front of the royal family – and the subsequent media hype – led to an extremely successful European tour.

How can these stories help you as an entrepreneur? The fact is that Barnum's theory of media criticism contains some truth. Push – good or bad – for you and your company. In short, it gets more people to see your brand. For example, my company, The Doe, is a digital publication for anonymous contributors. Because we strive to encourage conversation and different viewpoints, we have been exposed to media criticism in the past.
Most recently, there has been a backlash related to an article against voting in the 2020 elections due to a lack of qualified candidates. Some of our more prominent followers used social media to poke fun at the point of the article, but as the founder and CEO of The Doe, I decided to open up to the criticism. However, instead of ignoring, I always choose to respond to our critics, as these conversations as founders can often be the most insightful.

Eric Reis & # 39; adaptive learning

American entrepreneur Eric Reis presents a method for dealing with media criticism as a startup owner in his acclaimed book The Lean Startup. Part of this process is what Reis calls “adaptive learning”. As the name suggests, business owners need to analyze feedback so that they can adapt and learn from past mistakes. In short, it takes the same process that startups can use with consumer criticism and it implements it with media criticism.

However, the ideas behind adaptive learning are far more complex than just learning from mistakes. In fact, Reis promotes a three-step process that any startup owner can use to their advantage. The following figure gives a comprehensive overview of the process of rice:

As you can see, every startup has to start with a vision. This step defines the goals of your startup. To move to the next step, you need to identify actionable steps to get your startup up and running. Once you identify these elements, you can see how your business is performing and how it is being received. Can you benefit from the start? Is the customer feedback positive or negative? How about some media criticism?

If you get negative feedback or see metrics that could be improved, this is the time to adjust and learn. This process of building, measuring and learning is the basis of adaptive learning. As you can see in the illustration above, there are several ways to continue this process to improve your business and turn media criticism to your advantage.

It is inevitable

At one point or another, media criticism is inevitable for any startup owner. Whether it's a blogger who doesn't like your product or a journalist who thinks your practices are questionable, there will always be media criticism of your company. Remember, you shouldn't see media criticism as a reason to give up. You should see it as a reason to improve and build your business. Whether you want the P.T. With the Barnum Pro-Criticism approach or Eric Reis' adaptive learning method (or even a combination of both) you have an actionable path to success. All you have to do is use your ability to capitalize on media criticism so that your business can grow and be one step ahead of the crowd!

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