Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Buzz Revolution: The Future of Product-Focused PR

Buzz/word-of-mouth marketing/public relations is all the rage these days.

Just the other day—on the Travel Channel (or was it Discovery?)—I saw a segment on a British taxicab driver who drives a cab decorated to be a moving advertisement for Las Vegas. When passengers hop in, he talks about how great Las Vegas is. He doesn’t ram it down his passengers’ throats, rather; he’s casual and genuine. And he’s serious too. He’s been on a couple all-expenses-paid trips to Sin City… and not on his dime. He was enlisted by London buzz marketing operation, which works on behalf of Las Vegas to tempt British tourists. Sounds pretty nice, right? I agree.

As this technique begins to takeoff, it begs the question, “Does the future of product-focused media relations appear to be LESS media relations?” People are increasingly cynical about major media and big business. Even the most glowing review of a new product through earned media—in a newspaper, magazine, or on a Web site—will likely be met with some skepticism. Why not put the product in the hands of well-connected mavens and let them sell the product grassroots-style?

Last week, I signed up to be an “agent” for a major buzz marketing/PR firm. After giving them some information about my interests, habits, and hobbies, the group added me to its list. Supposedly, I will be contacted to join in upcoming “campaigns.” What does this mean? From what I glean, it means that they'll send me nifty new products, which they think I'll enjoy, and ask me to do nothing but show them off to my friends and report back to them on any feedback I get.

I guess the idea is this: Sell one man an iPhone; he'll likely enjoy it. Give the right man an iPhone; he'll sell three.


APick said...

hmm...what is the name of this buzz firm you have enlisted in? I assume we'd all like some new products to try out. Unless it involves sampling a new, non-FDA approved facial lotion...

Interesting concept.

larry parnell said...

A significant (and thoughtful) addition to your blog and the discussion about word of mouth PR. you raise a good point about its impact on product Pr - my take is that this is simply another channel - not one to replace others - as the impact of the 'referring" you and your friends do will only augment the ongoing PR that the company is already doing. Think of the general product PR as "air cover' for you buzzz marketing work and the connection becomes clearer...
Prof P