Open Letter to Microsoft Marketing – What’s the deal with holding back promotional hardware?

4.6 million visitors. 9 + million page views.

Remember those numbers. You’ll see them again.

So once again, because I am not funded by a  large parent corporations so I am able to talk frankly about a bunch of stuff that other VERY prominent technology bloggers won’t.

Most of my blogger/writer contacts agree with what I am about to say but they can’t publicly do so.

  • Some won’t because they are afraid that they will lose their Microsoft source access.
  • Others won’t because their parent companies simply won’t let them rub Microsoft the wrong way.

I will because in the words of a prominent poet (Tupac Shakur), “I have a big mouth“.

Microsoft’s policy of keeping the press away from hardware.

For a company that is trying to get people to adopt and use their products, Microsoft sure seem to have a ridiculous policy when it comes to sharing hardware with the press.

I noticed it at the first BUILD conference when thousands of paying developers got Samsung Tablets and the hundreds of international press and journalists from around the world got – Nada. Zip. Zilch.

This was a year ago and I thought it was just me (which was fine, who the hell am I right?) but it wasn’t.

There were hundreds of journalists around and there were ONLY about 4 or 5 “loaner” Samsung tablets for some “privileged” and “special” bloggers ( they know who they are, no need to publicly out them ).

The same 4 or 5 bloggers get the special treatment from Microsoft and everybody else has to kind of fight for scraps.

Guess what that does to everybody else in that room? They don’t feel like writing nice things.

Now a few months ago, I was with a bunch of VERY big names discussing this topic and they (to the person) were pissed off about how hard it is to get hardware from this company to review.

I’m talking about BIG names that would shock you.

Now let’s be very clear – it’s Microsoft’s prerogative who they choose to give their hardware to but this policy seems a little outdated.

On every level, it seems counter-productive to withhold review copies of software or hardware to people who just want to write about it.

  • First of all, the struggle makes bloggers and writers cranky and probably less willing to be objective. Just human nature, not pointing fingers.
  • Second, since Microsoft is playing catch up in this space, it’s a little strange that Microsoft would want to play this game.
  • Third, the financial cost of providing a few hundred copies of Windows 8 or Microsoft Surfaces or Nokia Lumias is nothing to a company the size of Microsoft. Not even a rounding error.
  • Fourth, when you give people things, THEY TEND TO LIKE YOU. They then tend to give you the benefit of the doubt in their articles and stories.

I noticed it again at the last BUILD conference when other bloggers and writers came up to me and asked me where I got my Microsoft Surface.

They were trying to figure out who my contact was and whether I was willing to share a name. When I told them I bought mine and you could see the hope just fade from their faces.

PEOPLE THIS IS EMBARRASSING.

I think it is absolutely crazy that there aren’t 500 Microsoft Surfaces ready to be loaned out to any semi-credible journalist or blogger who wants to write about it.

I find it crazy that there aren’t 1000 Nokia Lumia 920’s out there ready to be loaned out to any journalist who cares to ask.

It’s insane that most bloggers and writers I know had to actually go out and download Windows 8 themselves to get the screenshots.

The last straw for me was when I tried to get a Surface, Lumia and HTC 8x to give away for a promotion on this site.

My thought was, run the promo, pick the winners and then Microsoft could send them the hardware.

You know what I got?

the silence of a wind blown leaf

Yup.

Now this is one of the smaller sites in my blog network but here are the numbers for 2012.

  • 4.6 million visitors.
  • 9+ million page views.
  • 250,000 combined subscribers (Twitter, Feedburner, Aweber, Facebook, Google+).

Those are the numbers this (not so) tiny website has done in 2012 and the site will probably double or triple those numbers next year.

Now those aren’t Engadget, PC World or Verge numbers but still not anything to sneeze at.

My larger point is, even if my site reached only a fraction of those people, why isn’t the Microsoft marketing team more aggressive about getting stuff to anyone who wants to promote this product?

A friend of mine who’s a  technology analyst at a large firm said he thought it was because they didn’t want to be seen as trying to influence the press.

My response – Bull.

  1. They do give items out but just to a few “chosen” people. – That’s worse.
  2. It’s not a conflict if everyone is freely able to receive the same benefit.

Anyway, it’s more amusing to me than anything else.

I get all the hardware I need so I damn well won’t play that game and beg some PR firm.

I just wanted to put this out there for those who want to say the same but know they can’t. You know who you are.

I (kind of) feel your pain.

🙂

What do y’all think?

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