Pete Cashmore of Mashable has a post that is a nice microcosm of what is both right and wrong about PR and marketing as they relate to the web and Web 2.0 – at least as nice an example as the recent kerfuffle over Wal-Mart and Edelman (incidentally, Marc, I think your post is a little over the top – I know people hate Wal-Mart, but I don’t think the hate should spill over onto Edelman).
Pete, who tracks Web 2.0 apps, writes about how he has gotten dozens of breathless emails and comments from people who work for Kosmix and Kaboodle, and how they have voted for their own companies in Pete’s Weblist review over 25 times. As Pete puts it:
“Youâ€™d think this was obvious, but clearly some startups need it spelling out: never, never, never promote your company by leaving fake comments on blogs. Thereâ€™s absolutely no need to pose as a â€œhappy customerâ€ – just state that you work for the company from the outset. How hard can it be?”
A great point. There’s more to the story, though – someone who works for one of the companies Pete mentioned wrote a comment on his blog post, saying:
“Pete and all – sorry, our guys got a little over-enthusiastic when they saw we were on Mashable. Yes, naivety and awkwardness would both apply here. Butâ€¦like most companies weâ€™re very excited about what weâ€™re doing.”
Very smart. The response, I mean. The commenting and multiple voting – not so much. You excited about your company? Great. But don’t spam websites and bloggers, don’t try to rig votes and don’t try to pretend that you’re a satisfied customer if you’re not. That didn’t get Nvidia very far. You know what works best? Honesty. If you’re pitching wine, just be like Hugh and say you’re pitching wine, and then send a case of the stuff to someone’s party and hope they write about it.