If you don't have money for PR, and want the "tell it like it is" feedback that you need to make a product that people want and use, then you have to reach out to the blogosphere.
There is risk when it comes to bloggers. Group think, egos, and perhaps less representative of target audiences you want to reach. However, it is definately worth reaching out to them.
Here is the Hubpages strategy with working with the blogosphere.
- Research bloggers and get to know their body of work. Create a list of bloggers that you would like to get their feedback from. Select no more than 5 to start with. You want to limit it so you have time to take the best feedback from each of them and put it in the product.
- Invite them at the earliest point you can to demo the product. Do this before it is publicly available. It is kind of like giving them a scoop, but at the same time many other startups do the same thing and your likely to get great comments like this feature would be better if is was more like "insert comparison to companies feature".
- Don't expect bloggers to love your product. There was a great post about pitching VC's (I'd link to it if I could remember where I read it) and to be prepared for negative feedback. Like many things in life it is how you handle the feedback that is important. Be open to it. Understand it. Use it. Otherwise, your growth is limited. Jack Canfield will tell you if you read his Success Principles, to ask 1 question. How do you see us limiting ourselves?
- List them in your news section or get a beatdown on Techcrunch.