New PR tactics, Just whisper FUD to the Tech Press and watch it go
10/16/2009 by: Sean Kalinich
Recently I have noticed a trend in the way the Big Four [Three] technology companies are playing the marketing game. Well, not really recently, I have seen this one coming but it was not until a few recent events that I noticed that the source of my concern was actually the companies themselves and not (in many cases) the fault of bloggers and technical press playing favorites.
The problem is this; Almost all technology companies are playing the marketing game in the same way the US Politicians get into office: lobbying. They are not talking about what they can do, what they are going to do, and what they offer to you, the consumer. Now they are talking about how bad the other guy is. To do this they spread around good old IBM sales strategy called FUD [Fear Uncertainty and Doubt]. They try to get you to believe that going in another direction will be bad for you, not that going in their direction will offer you anything better.
To illustrate let's take a look at a issue from last year. It was between GIGABYTE and ASUS. Many of you will remember the press event where GIGABYTE claimed ASUS' EPU was not hardware based but software based and was not as efficient as the one that GIGABYTE was using. In fact they said that it was an outright lie.
In the end this turned out not to be the case and actually involved a couple of lawsuits files by ASUS against GIGABYTE which ended with GIGABYTE issuing a public and formal apology. Still the flurry of articles that followed the press event hurt ASUS sales, completely omitting the fact that it was a American editor from a certain Tech.com site that went to ASUS with GigaByte slides.
This was an interesting trend in marketing and one that picked up. But the underhanded tactics did not end there. After this event there was a run of interesting e-mails that I received from NVIDIA, they were all about how the 38xx series was not as good as ATi was claiming, it showed performance problems with certain games and even talked about how NVIDIA cards were a better price/performance option.
These were followed by e-mails from AMD about how Intel's Quads could not handle complex instructions that pushed the Cache and Memory bandwidth to its limits. Add on top of that Intel's "leaked" documents about how bad ION was for the netbook market.
When you put all these together you have a very disturbing trend.
As most of you know the Technical Website business is very cut throat, everyone is trying to be the first to get information on the Web. This means that many times information is pushed without double checking, especially if it is from a "trusted source". So after getting information from a source an article is pushed onto an unsuspecting world. From there it is linked and re-linked, until [in many cases] what you find is this unchecked information becomes truth simply by repetition. It is what we call "the repeated truth" and you see if every day. It happens when a site links the original article and uses it as their source, then someone else uses that article as their source, and so on. eventually by the sheer volume of sites covering this from different sources it becomes fact and people run with it as such.
The PR and marketing people at these big companies know this and use it to their advantage. They know who they can send information to for the best effect. Trust me, it has been done to me [and even this site] before. In my eagerness to get a "scoop" [once or twice at an older publication] I pushed information that should have been double checked better. It has lead me to viewing news and information from all publications [even print] with a skeptical eye. It is also the reason that you will see articles that may popup a couple of days after the "Big News" hits. We will go out of our way to check and re-check the information [sometimes asking the same question more than once to the same people] to find out the answer that is closest to the truth. It is a sad state of affairs when you have to say that.
Still we all should know that companies are moving towards this new marketing tactic. For them it is a very cheap and anonymous way of bad mouthing the competition. To you the consumer it is damaging and dangerous to say the very least. It turns the publications that you trust for news into sources of misinformation, not for every article, as most sites try their best to provide you with accurate news. The problem is, how do you tell which ones are truth and which ones have been leaked by someone as FUD. But at the end of the day, when the products hit the shelves and problems start [or don't], it is the detailed reviews and analysis that should help you with purchasing decisions.
At the end of the day, vote with your wallets.
FUD, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, Press, Marketing, PR, Press Relations, Consumer Awareness, marketing strategy, media strategy, media, bloggers, paid bloggers
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