A year ago (when PressFriendly was still in beta), the tech PR landscape was pretty much the same as it had been for a few years. You had your tech blogs, gadget sites, and startup lists. If you were launching a new product or new company, there was a defined path.

It was also around this time last year that a cool little site called Product Hunt launched. I was already a fan of Ryan Hoover’s email list Startup Edition and was one of the early adopters at Product Hunt (user #270). It was a place for founders and product people to “geek out” about products they liked and to introduce new products. It was somewhat akin to betali.st or startupli.st, but the distinguishing characteristic was the quality of discourse and community. This community is something that Ryan actively cultivated.

Product Hunt has grown and done a lot of things in 2014, and has significantly impacted tech PR in four ways.

1) Startups are launching first on Product Hunt

There a few reasons why a startup might choose to launch on Product Hunt. The team at Final highlighted that their launch on Product Hunt was less risky than a press launch and also had the added benefit of community-building: “When was the last time you saw the CTO & CEO answer questions in the comment section of a WSJ article?”

And it’s not just unknown startups. Press whipping-boy Path announced their Path Talk Places launch with a post from CEO Dave Morin.

Another reason that startups launching first on Product Hunt leads to the second way that Product Hunt is changing tech PR…

2) Reporters are finding startups on Product Hunt

If you “crush it” on Product Hunt, chances are a reporter will see it and write about it. No only that, a reporter is more likely to write nice things about you if they discover your app organically rather than being hounded by IMs.

Some of the first reporters to be active on Product Hunt were Ryan Lawler, Carmel DeAmicis, Kia Kokalitcheva. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a tech reporter who wasn’t active on the site.

The biggest media sensation to be discovered on Product Hunt was Yo, a simple message app that could only send one message: Yo. After being pretty popular (and inspiring much debate), Yo was covered basically everywhere and frustrated thousands of app developers who spent months/year toiling on their app. Many apps have tried to recreate the success that Yo had and even a few (Ethan) came close.

3) Product Hunt is courting the media

Even before Product Hunt launched its collections product to everyone, it was allowing media entities like the New York Times to create their own product picks. Special access for media companies to the buzzworthy companies on Product Hunt makes a lot of sense for both parties involved. Product Hunt can play the role of gatekeeper and media companies can get access to great content.

Ryan Hoover also frequently invites media reporters (Fast Company, GigaOm, TechCrunch) to join him on his podcast: Product Hunt Radio and is well-respected in media circles, which brings us to the final point.

4) Product Hunt is promoting companies

The more press that products receive post-Product Hunt, the more Product Hunt is likely to grow. So it was no suprise that in a Mashable profile of Ryan, the reporter discusses how Ryan actively pitched the Ethan app to reporters. However, actively pitching apps that appeared in PH is not the only thing that Product Hunt has done.

In a recent Forbes video, Ryan and Erik Torenberg discussed some of the top iOS keyboards. The information was pulled directly from a Product Hunt collection.

What does this mean for tech PR?

It’s hard to say how things will develop from here. By many accounts, Product Hunt will be expanding into new niches in the coming year, but I imagine that it’s influence in the tech/app world will continue to grow.

The important thing to track will be to see how Product Hunt continues to ascend the media ladder and how well it can help bring niche tech products to the larger masses. Apparently, that is, as indicated by the passage below, on Ryan Hoover’s mind as well.

Product Hunt’s announcement states that it will expand into “games, TV, movies, music, and fashion.” This growth is where Hoover sees having Andreessen Horowitz as his backer can add the most value to his startup. “They have prestige in the media space,” he says. “They can help us have credibility and build relationships with people in those industries.”

(Product Hunt image credit: http://jess3.com/producthunt-t-shirt-design/)

About The Author

Joel is the CEO of PressFriendly. He is an enthusiast of startups, his three sons, Scotch and Philadelphia sports teams.

One Response

  1. Adib Choudhury

    PH has become an incredibly valuable resource to startup communities. Whether or not you get a ton of revenue or users from launching on PH, you can definitely learn some lessons from the feedback you get from the PH community. I actually wrote a guide for launching on PH and would love for you to check it out! Link here: http://attentiv.com/product-hunt-launch-guide/


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