Want some positive blogger buzz about your new product or service? Maybe you should just open your wallet and buy it as Bill Gates just did for Microsoft‘s Zune media player.
Microsoft Engages Bloggers In An Effort To Help Promote The Zune
The Zune is off to a very rough start. Sales are low and the buzz is very quiet. Apple has a home run with the iPod and Microsoft will have a hard time trying to persuade people to switch their MP3 players.
So to help promote the Zune and get some positive Microsoft buzz, Gates coughed up a dozen round trip plane tickets to Redmond, hotel rooms, and Zunes (of course) for a group of gadget and tech bloggers. He then hung out with the bloggers for an hour and answered one question from each of them. Once you factor in the total cost of this stunt, I wonder how much Gates paid per word for a handful of blog posts?
Was Buying Blogger Buzz For The Zune Worth It?
So what did Microsoft get in return for this PR stunt? Were the bloggers wooed by Bill’s big wallet? Yes, they were. But was the coverage worth it?
- Check out the tech-news search engine Techmeme. Today their homepage was practically a mural to anything related to Bill Gates, the Zune, or Microsoft.
- While most reviewers are panning the Zune, blogs like TechCrunch (see post), Micro Persuasion (see post), and GigaOm (see post), are restricting their Zune coverage to DRM issues or posting “feel good” pieces about Microsoft.
Honestly, our criticalness against these other blogs is probably part jealously. Why wasn’t MethodShop invited out to Redmond? Oh well, we’re iPod people anyway and we’re too small of a blog to make much of a dent for M$. But we do give some of these bloggers credit. Most of them (not Ryan) were upfront and disclosed that Gates gave them free Zunes and paid for their flights out to Microsoft headquarters.
Is It Ethical To Buy Positive Press From Bloggers?
But on the other hand, should corporate blogs like Micro Persuasion and GigaOm, who have venture-capital financing and/or big-name PR firms, really be accepting free stuff and sacrificing their objectivity? How cheap are their corporate and personal ethics?