Comrade customer

Peter Himler, a PR exec who blogs at the refreshingly bluntly named The Flack, just told the story of his trip to Moscow and talks with big executives there about the empowered customer online. They didn’t much take to the idea:

My presentation focused on how the changed media landscape and the empowerment of citizens as journalists have caused a major re-think in how companies engage their customers. One attendee found it incredulous that a blogger would have the audacity to denigrate a company’s reputation, as was the case with the Comcast repairman video or Jeff Jarvis’s rants against Dell. Another asked whether it’s even legal to write negatively about a company or person. I cited the First Amendment, but also referenced the lawsuit brought against two former employees by Apple for divulging trade secrets.

It makes sense that a culture with a heritage of political totalitarianism would move into a culture of corporate totalitarianism: Better living through Gazprom. But I think the internet may well cause corporate dictatorships to fall faster than political ones.

  • A friend in PR was asked by Russian clients if he could conduct “black operations” in London – needless to say, excuses were made before a rapid exit.

    I wish I could be as optimistic about the power of the internet to combat what is emerging in Russia.

    But it’s not just information but fear that travels faster online – and when you have unexplained and uninvestigated deaths among journalists, and murder suspects elected to the Russian Parliament, it is a reminder that the pendulum has a long way to swing…

  • James

    The new Russian owners of LiveJournal are having trouble connecting with their English-speaking userbase (in Russian LJ is synonymous with ‘blog’) including one of their flunkies saying “we won’t listen to threats” to the backlash after the ad-free account type was removed.

    In other news, Creative sucks, its Vista sound card drivers don’t have all the features of its XP drivers. And on Friday it forced the takedown of an enthusiast’s patched drivers that were the only way to get the cards to work for some people. Creative have been on the slide for a while, but this was the tipping point – their forums are now full of thousands of posts of people saying “I’ll never buy Creative again”, including a few who smashed their cards and posted pictures.