Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Tech Hype 

Take time to read this brief comment from a blog called Techdirt. The writer accuses a PR person of laziness. Why the accusation? Because the PR person pushed to get a personality piece on the founder of a young and unprofitable company rather than on its product. The suspicion, of course, is that there is not much to the product, or the PR person didn't bother to learn the technology and its value.

In my tech experience, this accusation has more merit than not. Many tech publicists that I knew had little or no understanding of technologies they flacked. Not only did they not know what was in the black box or the code but they couldn't care less about learning. Their job was to shove releases and press kits out the door -- and that's what they did. No wonder dozens of useless products and services were hyped as the next best thing to the Internet. No one had enough understanding to balance remarks with reality.

There was one PR person I knew from the beginning of Silicon Valley who was different, and he should have been the model that everyone followed. Too bad they didn't. That was Regis McKenna. I had the pleasure of talking with him once and of working with people who trained under Regis. He was strict about proving the value of any product before it went out the door and of making sure of its differentiation. Whatever I know of tech PR and marketing, I learned from Regis' books.

But that is no longer the way of Silicon Valley, which got lost in its own hype. That's too bad because ultimately, the Valley killed itself with greed and self-importance. Today, many tech PR flacks are out of work. Have they learned a lesson?


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