How Sony Electronics Reaches Online –and Offline– with Bloggers

Although many brands forget that what happens offline echoes online, Sony is using a combination of digital and in person evangelism for a powerful concoction. Last night, I had dinner with Sony Electronics President Stan Glasgow and Top Blogger, Rick Clancy who publishes on the Sony Electronics Blog.

Head or Corp Comm spearheading Blogging Efforts
Rick, who is actually the head of Corporate Communications has decided to establish himself in the front (read his bio) as the lead blogger. This is unique, as in many cases corp comm folks find the product experts to come front and center in the blogs rather than themselves.

Outreach: Visiting 42 Stores in 40 Days
Now, in many cases, blogs created and run by corporation communications folks tend to be sterile rehashes of press releases, and feature pro-corporate content. While the Rick’s blog is certainly squarly on the party line, he’s doing something that many do not, he’s getting out in front of the browser and actually meeting customers. He’s on a cross country tour to visit 42 stores in 40 days, the goal? to learn from customers at Sony Style stores, and to evangelize their latest offerings such as PlayStation, HDNA, Vaio, DSLR cameras, Blu-ray players and whatever cutting technology leaps forth.

Taking a closer look at the blogging efforts
I’m not the only one to enjoy Rick’s blog, as Heart Interactive’s CTO Mike “Glemak” Dunn proclaims via Friendfeed: “i think he’s excellent – a great example of using a true voice as a corporate blogger – he was good from day 1, a natural – “.

I enjoyed how they have a flickr stream (but should embed flickr pics directly into the post) and have a Google Map Mashup to track his future locations.

While Rick is certainly heading the right way, I made a few suggestions to him over wine, since he’s incorporating this as live event, I recommended he use Twitter to help pre-announce where he’s going to be (for example, today he’ll be in Portland) to help encourage technology early adopters to show up and meet and greet. Although I didn’t mention it, uploading pics in real time with Sony Ericson phones as well live streaming from the Vaio line could only help draw the connective tissue.

Lastly, I just reviewed some of the incoming links to the Sony Blog on Technorati and see that their successful Mommy blogger event was covered by an influential mommy blogger –Rick should link back into the conversation.

A room full of journalists and one Twitter user
Perhaps it’s a sign of the time, but the room was filled with journalists from the top newspapers, (this was a press and analyst event) who were scribbling furiously during dinner. While the quality is by no means a comparison, I was live-tweeting the highlights in real-time, getting feedback from you all, in 140 characters or less on my twitter account. Is it game changing? Maybe if I took it more seriously, but then again, reporting isn’t my job.

Sony’s vitual/real blogging outreach a good model
Good wishes to Rick and the Sony team on their outreach, a good example of social media as an overlay to the real world –and important story for a company who captures these stories and displays them with digital devices.

19 Replies to “How Sony Electronics Reaches Online –and Offline– with Bloggers”

  1. Too bad Sony Ericsson, the division responsible responsible for mobile, isn’t doing something similar.

    In fact that may just very well be the reason why they [SE] said their Q2 numbers are not going to be as stellar as they were hoping due to low sales of their more expensive models.

    Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/hotStocksNews/idINL278989620080627

    Shame, their devices are gorgeous and very capable.

    Disclosure: I work for Nokia and these are my views, not that of my employer. Personally I love competition because it makes us work harder and there is nothing that excites me more than the mobile space.

  2. Thanks Stefan, you’re a long time commenter, I didn’t realize you were with Nokia. Learn something new everyday

    So what’s Nokia doing in this space to use social media to enhance it’s phones?

  3. Jeremiah: thanks for profiling what Rick Clancy and Sony are doing around blogging — some pretty good stuff. Not sure what I think about Stefan’s comment — feels a bit like a cheap shot but that may just be me. I’ve heard Nokia is doing some interesting things with their communities — would be interesting to hear more.

  4. A hybrid virtual/real blogging outreach model – interesting.

    Thanks for covering this, Jeremiah. It looks like a smart strategy of combining both online and offline listening & conversation with customers (which of course, every company should do, but interesting to see the chief blogger personally doing this).

  5. Well here are a few off the top of my head:

    1: I work in the S60 Ambassador Team. We’re responsible for engaging the community of rapid S60 (the operating system that runs on Nokia smartphones) fans and asking them to tell us about their offline word of mouth conversations concerning our platform. Each week we blog the best “report” and keep a running tally of the number of reports each Ambassador submits. The one with the most wins, usually a device and/or accessory of some kind.

    More information here: http://ambassadors.s60.com/

    And here: http://blogs.s60.com/consumed/

    2: Nokia contracts a company called 1000 Heads to lead word of mouth for the Nseries (multimedia centric devices) lineup. They fly the top bloggers in the Nokia/S60 community to events, give them devices to try out and give them the ability to ask questions to the people responsible for creating said devices. The most memorable thing they did, for me at least, was fly out a handful of bloggers to attend the launch of the Nokia N82, our flagship 5 megapixel product with Xenon flash. My write up on that event is here: http://www.intomobile.com/2007/11/15/the-agony-and-the-sheer-ecstasy-that-was-the-nokia-n82-product-launch.html

    More information here: http://www.womworld.com/nokia/

    3: Nokia Conversations was started recently, my buddy Charlie Schick is a part of team responsible for it. It is basically a blog that collates through all the Nokia news on the net, and more importantly the reactions to the news, and then shares it with the entire community. There is also plenty of original content such as interviews with designers, employees, product managers, etc.

    More information here: http://conversations.nokia.com

    Bruce: I’m not attempting to insult Sony Ericsson, at all. Here in Europe (personally living in Finland) the top two phone manufactures are Nokia and Sony Ericsson. It seems wherever I find mobile enthusiasts there is always a sizable percentage who are incredibly loyal to Sony Ericsson. It is easy to see why, their devices are very attractive and their user interface has various design elements that are only now starting to appear in our software.

    No one from Sony Ericsson is engaging these guys, which is a shame since the C905 is launching soon, their 8.1 megapixel camera phone with Xenon flash; an industry first.

    It’s all about getting the market to want higher end devices, not just because the margins are fatter, but because when you have something in your pocket that gives you the internet, videos, a competent camera, GPS, music, etc., it changes your perception of what mobility means.

    We all win from that.

  6. Jeremiah,

    I have to say that, while I understand your an analyst, not a journalist, clearly there is this middle ground where your readers, urr, fans, expect a critical perspective.

    To not mention any issue relating to how Sony polices the Internet as a set-top-cop is an astounding silence.

    http://uscpubd510.blogspot.com/

    Especially given your last job, which wasn’t as beholden to corporate benefactors, I would at least expect you to address the question in a neutral “analyst” at least ask-the-question/address-the issue fashion.

  7. Lewis

    You’re right, Sony is and has been plagued with many critiques about data, dongles, and DRM.

    I am surprised that you’d make this call however.

    The focus of this blog is NOT about that, it’s about how companies use the web to connect with customers. (see tagline)

    Although it’s hard to find, I actually asked the President about this during dinner (as it relates to upcoming internet devices), and tweeted it in real time.

    In summary: I ask/discuss/think about the tough questions, but reserve the right to keep my focus on this blog.

    So, for you to suggest I’m not being objective has no grounding, as I wasn’t taking on the issues that you suggest.

    I hope that this additional background information changes your mind. You can email me if you want to talk further.

  8. Well, they are all related. I respectfully disagree.

    How can you promote usinig social media to help Earthquake victims in China, and yet not even address issues of Set Top Cop when discussing social media with one of the leading promoters of that ideaology?

  9. Lewis

    To be quite honest, I mainly focus on in browser web, and a bit of mobile. I’ve never discussed, nor peered into set top boxes. Although someday, I’ll probably own one.

    In fact, we’ve other analysts that cover that arena, it’s not in my coverage. I tend to go ‘deep’ into the web and esp social media.

    With that in mind for me to discuss, debate, and take on every issue from a brand as large as Sony on this blog post would certainly be one of my larger posts.

    I hope you understand that I keep my ‘social media’ lens on as my main filter when I see the world, and this is a good reason why I didn’t see your perspective. (an area I don’t focus deeply on)

    I’m always open to new ideas and challenges, but can you send me a specific link to the challenge you suggest? (the link above is the blog index, there are many posts) Allow me to take a deeper look into an area that I’m not familiar with.

    Are we in agreement yet? 😉

  10. Thanks for the question. My attached link shows, how in the case of FOX like SONY does with their programming and limitation built into the Playstations etc, the studios want consumers to use their games (Playstation, restricted MP3 players) , social networks (MySpace), which they wrap, ur, brand with cool social media, but if “DIY” creators go too far, then their Set Top Cop MPAA/RIAA/Digg-Blue-ray fiasco. Those groundswell will increase, as they touch on the basic “trust” that exists between brands’ communities, their digital products and the corporate actors impacted.

    I’d be curious to read a post about the BoingBoing/Violet Blue cluster-fuck. The BoingBoingers sure should have had better consultants or advice from their representatives (ICM I believe).

    Have a good 4th!

  11. Sony hasn’t had any cache in at least a decade. Their brand is damaged more than Danity Kane, their product line has imploded, and their reputation’s in the dumpster, buried under piles of rotting rice and fish. Stick a chopstick in ’em. No amount of word-of-mouth advertising or blogging is going to resurrect this failed company.

  12. Jeremiah-Thanks for recognizing Sony’s efforts in this area. You mention some good ideas which we’ll try to incorporate.
    Marcy Cohen
    Sony Electronics Corporate Communications
    Sony Blog Moderator

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  14. Jeremiah: thanks for profiling what Rick Clancy and Sony are doing around blogging — some pretty good stuff. Not sure what I think about Stefan's comment — feels a bit like a cheap shot but that may just be me. I've heard Nokia is doing some interesting things with their communities — would be interesting to hear more.

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