Thursday, February 22, 2007

No Surprise 

This article illustrates what happens to product announcements in the age of the internet. One loses the element of surprise and control over message because details leak before the official unveiling date.

This is not new. In fact, some years ago, we were pointing out to a major electronics company that it could no longer expect to announce new products regionally because of the web. News in one market was instantaneously present to all markets. That is apparently what happened here. It seems camera details sent to UK dealers were posted on the web a week early.

We have clients who still struggle with this concept. Their training has been that one can localize news and control it, but one can't -- not anymore. News control is directly proportional to interest in the news itself. That is, news of great interest spills from market to market. News of little interest tends not to do so. So, only if one is posting a dry release about an obscure product or service on a regional web site, is there a chance of keeping it confidential.

The new way of handling product and service news is to let everyone know at the same time. This might be inconvenient for a company's marketing system but it is realistic. At least, Sony is discovering that lesson.

Good point. Though in some instances pre-announcement buzz can be useful as well, especially if a company shares only partial details knowing they will be leaked. Alternatively, they can go with the Apple model of absolute secrecy and mystery until the last possible moment.

Your post also got me thinking about the question of Control vs. Influence. Although your post does not do it, I think many confuse those two issues. For instance, while one cannot and should not try to control the blogosphere, proper steps to influence it would be appropriate. I think I may devote a full post to this topic, as I think about it.

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