Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pro tip: don’t live Tweet product launches

Hello, you may consider this my resignation from a bunch of casual acquaintanceships that probably should matter more but don’t, and from a bunch of publishers I don’t work for (excepting News and Fairfax, both of which would rather eat soap than pay me for anything) (suits me fine).

Some people might decide not to speak to me after this. My personal record among journalists is someone who is now an editor, who declined even polite greetings for about 10 years after I made fun of him in a 1997 press conference.

As I write this a bunch of technology journalists are live-tweeting a product promotion. I won’t mention the product, because that would be to buy into the idea that one of the world’s largest companies needs my help to sell products.

It’s a phone; phones already outnumber humans in Australia. That means very few people actually “need” a new one, if that word is given any reasonable definition.

Carriers need people to want new phones, it’s true. But I recognise no obligation as a journalist to join in the great game of making people think they need something they don’t need. Ditto the journalist’s relationship with a vendor, which should be one of caution bordering on trepidation (from the vendor’s point of view at least).

And as for Tweeting about b-list celebrities’ presence at the launch of a phone … Jesus T Christ and his Travelling Flea Circus.

The tech press aspires to Seriousness. It’s something that makes them sweetly vulnerable: roll out the chance to be pleasant to a CEO, and nine out of ten IT journalists get that kind of shimmery-in-the-belly thing that’s like being in love.

It’s a fucking phone, people. The reason the celebrity is there is that the product is as boring as bat shit, and the reason they’re not A-list celebrities is that the product isn’t from Apple (imagine: princess whats-her-name of Denmark in a nightclubby Apple product launch. The hypegasm would last for years).

Two worsts arise out of this.

One: someone’s going to go over the live Tweets from the product launch while reading the stories tomorrow. Is that going to be a good look? What if the “someone” happens to be the ABC’s Media Watch? (The tech press lives in constant terror of the day MW pays it serious attention).

Two: the same will apply to the product reviews. Someone who’s visited the launch party dressed as a premature orgasm will have zero credibility as a product reviewer (I have sworn off product reviews forever: the experience at twelve months never, never, never matches what you can accomplish in a few days reviewing the product).

I can’t tell you how it ended. Except for the few who think their immortal prose on Twitter is so irresistible that they won’t hashtag their posts (and therefore evade the mute), I gave up on the whole servile display of “ohh, shiny!”

But we had journalists here who consider themselves “serious”, and who will occasionally act it – happy to turn up, for example, at a lawsuit’s directions hearing even though nothing’s going to happen – re-drafting their public image as utterly enthralled by the combination of a bit of plastic in a rectangle and another bit of plastic on legs.



Mandy said...

Love this and agree completely!

Thanks for being so honest, and if the truth hurts, so be it.

Martin Aungle said...

Watching the live tweets come through on my Twitter stream from the launch last night was great entertainment value on a long train trip home - and it also provided some great pointers on what not to do at a product/press launch! However - to me, the Twitter back channel that goes on during press events (such as the regular commentary on what's on Aria's menu that day) is a little bit like the extra features when a movie comes out on DVD. Do we really need to see what went into making it, or what scenes were shot but left out? I think I prefer the old world, when there was a bit of mystique to the movie-making process.