Google’s secret weapon is a four letter word I underscored in January: SPIN
Google has a few other S words up its $150 billion market cap Sleeve: SECRECY, or SURPRISE, as Google has characterized its uniquely close to the vest communications strategy.
“We don't talk much about what lies ahead, because we believe one of our chief competitive advantages is surprise,” Google acknowledged last year.
I discuss the Google penchant for believing the success of an advertising company depends upon operating as if it manufactures nuclear weapons in defense of the nation’s security in Google surprise? Google strong-arms government officials.
Just as Google keeps its advertising clients in the auction bidding blind to maximize keyword prices and Google profits, Google keeps the public and all of its constituents and prospective partners in the business blind to minimize its expenses and maximize its profits.
And Google gets away with it!
AdWords customers do not benefit from independent, third party auditing and certification of Google billing systems to minimize click fraud exposure,
AdSense partners can not obtain a revenue share schedule from Google,
Google users are not guaranteed access to their own data stored in Google systems,
Rights holders are not able to require Google to prevent unauthorized uploads of copyright videos to YouTube.
BUT, AdWords customers, AdSense partners, Google users, content owners and even the press are, for the most part, fine with it! WHY?
Google really is “(almost) everyone’s favorite garage band,” even God, to some.
How does Google maintain its lofty stature? By maintaining its distance.
Google aims to sell advertising to all the world, but it is not a strong believer in spending money to advertise Google!
Google may want to organize all the world’s television advertising, but it does not sing the praises of “TV ads.” Google is proud of its no TV advertising for us stance:
Google has built the most loyal audience on the web. And that growth has come not through TV ad campaigns, but through word of mouth from one satisfied user to another.
Google’s who needs Google advertising position is complemented by a who needs Google PR, for fee PR that is.
Mums the word at Google, vs a vs the press. Email statements from Google spokespeople is the favored communications strategy, and the statements are generally, at their core, glorified “no comments.”
Google’s lean, mean internal SPIN machine serves the Google purpose well. What’s more, by staying in-house and generally incommunicado, Google doesn’t run the risk of the likes of the current Microsoft-Waggner Edstrom Public Relations debacle.
Microsoft employee, and dedicated blogger, Don Dodge, deems Waggner Edstrom’s unplanned disclosure to Wired Magazine of Microsoft funded manipulations of the Wired editor-in-chief and a Wired reporter, a humorous “screw up by one of our corporate PR people.”
Mary Jo Foley asks what’s the fuss, dismissing the affair as “old news” and “not even very interesting news.”
It may be PR business as usual, but that does not mean it is not untoward.
Dodge puts forth an oh so innocent Microsoft-Waggner Edstrom case:
Microsoft's PR agency, briefs anyone who might be interviewed by a professional reporter with background on the story line, what has already been said, key messages Microsoft wants to highlight, and background on the reporter and previously published stories. The Microsoft PR person inadvertently emailed the briefing package to the Wired Magazine reporter.
The reporter, Fred Vogelstein, however, did not take it oh so innocently, feeling as if he was reading “his own FBI file.”
Foley says, “The real question: How to keep Microsoft on the transparency track”
I say, The real question: How can press so easily be effectively spun by Microsoft's PR machine, or Google's spokespeople?
Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine Editor-In-Chief:
On a personal note, it's kind of freaky to read the memo describe how I was wooed (even manipulated, if you want to think of it that way) into commissioning the piece:
"CharlesF met with Chris Anderson during his fall tour in '06, placing the idea that Microsoft is thinking differently and creatively about its outreach....Dan'l Lewin met with Chris Anderson in October and also emphasized the company's work in the arena, pushing the story further...Jeff Sandquist traveled to the Bay Area to meet with Chris and his editorial team. They were highly engaged in Jeff's conversation...”
The (Microsoft) executives were very well served by the document; they did indeed stick to their message and they got pretty much the story they wanted. This was also, as it happens, the story I wanted--or was it just the story I thought I wanted because I was so effectively spun by Microsoft's PR machine?
Fred Vogelstein, the Wired Microsoft reporter:
Should I be flattered that they worked so hard, or should I be embarrassed at being co-opted by their spin machine? I'd like to think I would have written the same story no matter what. But now, through the miracle of transparency, you, the reader, get to decide that too.