What’s All the Buzz About?

Tech PR Review

Bees can create buzz too.

This story in Mashable about who won the “buzz” war at E3 2011, between the three major game console providers, brings up an important point.  The article points out that, according to Webtrends, Nintendo got the most buzz, Sony the second most, and Microsoft came in third.  In my opinion, the major news for each was: Nintendo unveiled its Wii U – a new gaming console with an innovative controller.  Sony also unveiled new hardware: its Playstation Vita portable gaming system.  Microsoft’s big news was that live TV was soon coming to the Xbox 360.

It’s notable that Microsoft, which came in third, was the only one not to unveil a new console of some type, though they did unveil new hardware in a steering wheel controller for automotive games. So, it becomes arguable that hardware drives publicity before games.  One could also argue that games themselves did not really create much buzz for these companies because the vast majority of titles mentioned at E3 had already been extensively covered in trade media – it was hardly “new” news.  Nintendo secured 43 percent of the buzz.  Sony secured 31 percent and, Microsoft secured near 26 percent.

Having a major “physical” product to announce is much easier than a service.  A physical product allows much more visual opportunity, allowing the product to be much more easily perceived by an audience, let alone much easier for the media to cover and showcase.  This is probably why Microsoft came in third.  However, it’s also important to note that the amount of buzz does not always necessarily mean the buzz was the most impactful.  How and where your product is covered is much more important than how often.  Let’s make up a scenario to explain.

Let’s say manufacturer #1 secured 100 media stories in the first hour in key industry blogs with an average readership of 10,000 daily visits.  Let’s say manufacturer #2 secured only two stories in the first hour, but they were with the two leading trade magazines read by 500,000 visitors daily.  The math for manufacturer #1 adds up to potentially one million readers, which is also the same amount for manufacturer #2.  So, who got the better coverage?  From a PR person’s perspective, which has to report the results to their client or management, the publicity for manufacturer #1 can be easily made to look far more successful. However, is it more meaningful?

It’s likely that coverage in the leading trade magazines will end up being more meaningful, and more lasting.  A big trade magazine probably will provide email newsletters to its subscribers, which are probably far bigger than the combined total for all the blogs.  When searching for news online, the big trade magazines are more likely to show up ahead of the blogs, making that news more impressionable in the long run.  Then, there is the fact that coverage in the #1 or #2 leading trade magazine is much more impressionable to use in cross promotions (on your own website, etc.). This is also assuming that the coverage type (length, positive versus negative, etc.) are all equal.  Measuring the quality of a story versus another story – well, that’s for another post sometime…