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It doesn’t matter whether or not your product is actually good, it only matters if the Internet thinks it’s good. The blogosphere is full of tech writers who have built their entire careers around criticizing new gadgets and commenters who live to troll and complain about anything. Microsoft is the latest company to have its feelings hurt by the Internet, and released a blog post asking consumers to be nicer to Windows 8.
In this world where everyone is a publisher, there is a trend to the extreme – where those who want to stand out opt for sensationalism and hyperbole over nuanced analysis.
Frank X. Shaw, Corporate VP of Corporate Communications and the author of the post, takes a defensive stance on the criticism of Windows 8 and accuses the media of bashing it for the sole purpose of drawing more page views. He then asks readers to take a second opinion and look at the real facts instead of the media hype.
Since when does reviewing a new tech product elicit the same vernacular as presidential pundits and preemptive strikes on North Korea? Don’t just listen to the mainstream media, folks, dig deeper and try the product yourself.
Telling the Internet to be less mean rarely works, and it’s a bad PR move to tell media what you want them to say. This blog post was meant to reach out to consumers: the consumer who has avoided Windows 8 because of bad reviews and the consumer who has been horribly let down by the product.
Shaw concedes that it’s not enough for a company to say that they’ve listened to the complaints of buyers, they need to actively show that they’re making improvements for the better. Microsoft hits the nail on the head with that one:
We are going to keep improving Windows 8, as we do with all our products, making what’s good even better.
EA wrote a similar corporate blog post when SIM City 5 had a terrible release back in March. Microsoft matched the tone of EA and approached the audience in a more conversational way. Between Shaw and EA’s Lucy Bradshaw, readers get a feeling that the execs are explaining the vision for the company and talking about the big picture rather than backing into a corner. Instead of getting pushed up against the wall, they’re teaming up with the consumer: it’s all of us against the media, who do you stand with?
Between blogs and social media, we’re entering a world where executives can ditch the stuffy formalities of press conferences and connect with readers however they please. Microsoft’s Shaw and EA’s Bradshaw are leading the pack with this new form of corporate speak. They have the right platform, they just need to choose their words carefully.
There is one misstep that I have to point out before wrapping up: there is no place for emoticons in corporate blog posts, passive aggressive or otherwise. I don’t care how excited you are, if you’re the mouthpiece for a multi-billion dollar company there is no place for this: “:)” Thank you and goodnight.