What You Can Learn About PR from Dave McClure


Dave McClure


Agree or disagree with him all you want, Dave McClure knows how to make a scene. He’s notorious for speaking his mind and saying what everyone else is thinking, but no one else will say.

Last night, Dave posted the tweet above to reach out to women founders for the Women 2.0  PITCH event. Women 2.0 CEO Shaherose Charania replied to his tweet with a laugh and a <3.

Soon after Dave’s tweet, though, New York investor Sarah Kunst replied:

Dave McClure Miss Thang


Regardless of who you think is right and wrong in this situation, we can all learn a lot from the way Dave McClure handled the it.

Engage your critics

It would have been easy for Dave to ignore Sarah’s tweet. Or at least acknowledged it and gone about his evening. As a big investor in women, unsexy, and startups everywhere else, McClure hardly needs to justify his own thoughts on women in tech.

Instead, he spent most of the night talking to and retweeting his harshest critics. One woman he retweeted said she had lost respect for him and 500 Startups.

Now, personal attacks are one thing, but calling out the company is another. Again, it would have been easy for Dave to ignore or dismiss this tweet about his accelerator, which had nothing to do with his personal Twitter account. Instead, he gave his critic a platform and announced to all his followers that the 500 Startups brand was being doubted.

Throughout the evening, Dave asked questions and tried to understand the criticism. I don’t know of anyone who thinks he’s sexist, but he quickly admitted that if he offended one woman, he might very well have chosen his words incorrectly.

Which leads us to the next lesson:

‘Fess up and try to fix it

Immediately, Dave admitted that he could have been wrong. He explained what he meant, but he listened to the people criticizing him and learned from how they felt. After a couple of hours of this, he tweeted:

Dave McClure women


Same heart, different words. After understanding the problem, Dave didn’t try to defend himself or stand his ground. He changed his wording so that the most women would hear the message.

He ‘fessed up and tried to fix it. (Here’s looking at you, Snapchat.)

The other lesson learned from Dave McClure about good PR? A little controversy goes a long way. You all know about the Women 2.0 PITCH event now, don’t you.



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  1. 1

    Sounds like it was well responded to and a model for us all! Who hasn’t thoughtlessly offended some people sometimes? I think just about every single one of us has. Seems like this is a great example of how to respond to being called out on something like this. Time and energy spent honestly listening to and learning from critics is a great investment in your ability to work more effectively with people in the future.

  2. 2

    Very well said. Completely agree. I actually had a mentor teach me these a few years ago but had never seen anyone but him use it before Dave. Seems to work. Really appreciate the comment, Marshall. Big fan of Little Bird.

  3. 3

    This is a great example of why social is about social, not marketing (something many have confused and forgotten). Engaging in a public square, such is Twitter, means actually engaging. It also means taking your lumps when you are wrong (and they *will* come) and defending what you say when you believe you are right.

  4. 4

    Yep, it seems twitter as become a place to broadcast over the years rather than converse. It’s been refreshing to see @pmarca engaging so readily since he just started tweeting so heavily.

  5. 5

    Yep, it seems over the years twitter has become more about broadcasting rather than conversing. It’s been refreshing though to see Marc Andreessen engaging through conversation so readily since he’s began tweeting regularly.

  6. 6

    Shame on Dave for catering to the lowest common denominator. People choosing to be offended by things that aren’t insults, and then attempting to shame people for it, are really just being abusive. Dave shouldn’t have put up with abuse from the SJWs.

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