Friday, May 25, 2012

Silence is golden. Just ask Netflix

Dave Copeland explores Faceboo's less-is-more PR strategy, which seems to be shared by a lot of other tech companies who find that playing hard to get with the media yields dividends -- or at least, does no harm, which is often just as good. My gripe, as always, is that a lot of people seem to conflate public relations and media relations -- the latter is a tool of the former; they are not interchangable. The fact that you spurn traditional news media coverage is not evidence that you don't do public relations. My first boss always said one of the tough parts about being in public relations is that often your greatest achievements are the stories that don't run.

Besides, with almost 1 billion users and growing, how much has Facebook really needed the traditional media, which has been bleeding readers, viewers, and listeners for decades? The real question is whether Mr. Zuckerberg can continue to dodge the fourth estate now that he has taken his company public and tripped over a hurdle or two along the way. Dave's article notes the coy strategy employed by Apple's Steve Jobs, who could speak directly to Apple's cultish fans even before social media and other forms of audience-centric communications were so dominant. Can Facebook, which has engendered far less affection than Apple, pull this off?

For his sake, let's hope Zuckerberg has learned the lesson of Reed Hastings, and follows the advice of Bart Simpson: If you don't know what to say, keep your fool mouth shut, and at least you won't make things worse.

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