OLD Media Moves

When consumers become biz journalists

January 30, 2006

When consumers become business journalists, especially when they’re reviewing electronic products or new software, it can cause havoc with the tried-and-true strategy of companies giving “exclusive” interviews to certain media outlets.

Dana Blankenhorn found this out the hard way. He talked with CEO Ofer Shoshan of Qlusters Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif. last week in an interview embargoed until today. Unfortunately, others covered the company’s new software and made the embargo useless. He got a call from the company’s PR on Saturday telling him he could go ahead and post his story.

He wrote this morning: “Business news is often treated as a proprietary good, something the holder can control, favoring one outlet with an “exclusive CEO interview,” waiting until they post before a disfavored competitor gets a sniff of the release. Many companies use this to control how their story plays. You give the Wall Street Journal first crack at it, then release when they do. Or you give someone else the break for a cover, or favorable treatment.

“In the case of Qlusters, however, the company actually released openQRM through Sourceforge weeks ago. The project was already riding high in the site’s Enterprise listings when I was asked to keep silent. Yet the company’s PR people didn’t see this validation as the story — they saw features and spin as the story. They also thought they could keep the press quiet with interviews while testing the actual software before thousands of programmers.”

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