Leveraging Media Criticism to Get Your Business Ahead of the Crowd

Social media influencers, bloggers, third-party review sites, and even major publications give negative feedback to businesses all the time. Learn how you can leverage media criticism to get your business ahead of the crowd.

Image credit: Paula Daniëlse | Getty Images

What is media criticism?

It may sound like a no-brainer, but many first-time entrepreneurs assume that any kind of negative feedback qualifies as media criticism. In fact, there’s a huge difference between consumers leaving your business bad reviews on Yelp and a journalist criticizing your startup in a respected publication. So, let’s evaluate the differences between consumer criticism and media criticism.

Consumer criticism

Consumer criticism refers to any kind of negative critique of you, your product, your service, or your business by a patron or customer. For example, let’s say you run a business that provides digital marketing services. A client uses your services, feels unhappy about their experience, and decides to write a negative review of your business.

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 prominent Youtube star makes a purchase from your startup and creates a negative review video for their Youtube channel, this would be a form of both consumer and media criticism.

  • Prominent social media influencers or bloggers
  • Celebrities
  • Newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets
  • TV programs, radio shows, and podcasts

Different approaches to managing and leveraging media criticism

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

P.T. Barnum’s pro-criticism method

Though P.T. Barnum dabbled in a wide variety of ventures — from politics to journalism — he is most remembered for his traveling circus and widely publicized hoaxes. He became highly successful due to his keen observation that media criticism can be a good thing. In fact, many historians attribute the famous quote, “there’s no such thing as bad press,” (sometimes quoted as “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”) to Barnum.

Eric Reis’ adaptive learning

In his much-lauded book, The Lean Startup, American entrepreneur Eric Reis puts forward a method for handling media critiques as a startup owner. Part of this process is a practice that Reis calls “Adaptive Learning.” As the name implies, entrepreneurs must 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 implements it with media criticism.

It’s inevitable

At one point or another, media criticism is an inevitability for every 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 critiques of your business. 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 use the P.T. Barnum Pro-Criticism approach or Eric Reis’ Adaptive Learning method (or even a combination of the two), you have an actionable path to success. You simply have to use your ability to leverage media criticism so that your business can grow and get ahead of the crowd!

Milan Kordestani is a 21-year-old serial entrepreneur whose most notable startups include Guin Records, Dormzi, and The Doe.

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