I would absolutely HATE to work for Sony in their PR department. I have never seen a company that makes so many increasingly bad decisions about product development, about marketing and about PR.
The latest, which you’ve no doubt heard about, is the fake blog they launched for the PSP. In all honesty, I can see why this happened. When we’re talking about viral ideas for campaigns and creative ways to get our message across, someone inevitably mentions a fake blog or a character blog. Usually, that discussion leads to something bigger and better, but it always sorta seems like a good idea at the time. Fortunately, we’ve all had the good sense to can that idea for the obvious reasons that we would look like idiots.
There is no benefit to a fake blog. It seems like there would be. Surely to God a seasoned copywriter can put together a much better blog than any kid who actually loves the product, right?
You can’t fake genuine interest. Soon enough, people will suspect that you are a paid shill for Sony, and as soon as that happens, you will be found out – especially if it’s popular.
Companies are seeing this whole social media thing happening around them and they want to benefit from it without putting themselves in a position of risky consumer feedback. The irony, of course, is that there is no way of avoiding consumer feedback now that a million public conversations are being broadcast every day. You can choose to ignore it, but it’s here to stay, and by violating the cultural code of the social media world, you end up looking ever dumber in the eyes of your publics.
Sony looks utterly ridiculous right now, and it’s all because they wanted to participate in the blogosphere without transparency or authenticity. It’s the same as spam, when you get right down to it, except in this case Dr. Mumbuto is asking you to buy a PSP instead of sending him your account information.
I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but the lesson in this case is that while the blogosphere can be alluring, it’s not something that you can fake. It’s not a short-term, one way project. It’s an ongoing process, and one that needs to be tied into your overall communications plan, not a seasonal advertising campaign.