Great marketing can only take a product so far. This is as true with the half price coupon as it is with an incredible opening day launch due to strong PR. Take Cuil as exhibit A. I was genuinely excited when I read this article. A Google killer with a new search design, a larger search index, unique relevance algorithm and privacy by not storing IP information. It had glowing posts from all the top tier bloggers right out of the gate, even though it became clear none had actually tested it yet.
Then it happened, bloggers started using it and all that great PR went for not. In fact, I think it is arguable that due to Cuil’s PR blitz earlier in the week, it received an even greater backlash when it became clear it was simply an average alternative search engine and was not ready to go up against the incumbent big four (Google, Ask, Yahoo and Microsoft).
Cuil’s launch provides several lessons and maybe a future PR case study. First, if you are a search engine and you do not appear in you own first page of results, perhaps you should delay the launch a bit. Another is do not over promise and under deliver. In hindsight, it is laughable to believe a startup could go head to head with Google on day one. Google has too much money, experience and scale. A company could grow to eclipse Google over time, but not until after extensive real world adoption and testing. Smart startups do not let their PR run wild. Lastly, we need more restraint and journalistic responsibility in our blogoshere media. No longer should pure speed dictate new media, but instead accuracy because that is true journalism. Except for the fake news anomalies seen in the Onion and the SportsPickle, people read news to learn truth about their world. New media is now the media as professional journalist are blending with former ameatuer blogoshpere titans. We do not have room for fanboys, we need journalists.