Thursday, December 17, 2009

How NOT to be a Corporate Shill

A couple days ago I wrote about how I had planned on switching from AT&T to Verizon, but decided against it because their monthly bill was going to be $80 more than from AT&T for the same service features (1200 minute family plan, two lines, 250 text each, unlimited data each).

Now I've got a "regular guy" in comments, trying to talk about how Verizon is really a better deal than AT&T and how I'm an awful, mean, bad person for writing such mean things etc... etc...

Ok... a little bit of astroturf I can live with, but this is getting ridiculous. Three nearly hysterical comments so far...
UPDATE: Alright, I had a private email exchange with Jason, and it turns out, he DOES work for Verizon, but he's not in sales or marketing, and he isn't a paid shill.

He's not astroturfing, he's just really passionate about his job, and his company; and he wants to present their best position and value.

In general, you want to avoid that sort of perceived conflict of interest, by disclosing you are an employee up front. People on the internet, generally, react really badly to that sort of thing, unless you disclose first.

That said, I also understand that sometimes that can be difficult.

I work for a company that gets a lot of unwarranted criticisms and attacks, and I would LOVE to be able to defend us; but I am strictly forbidden to make any kind of public statement as a senior employee.

So a misunderstanding happened, because of a guy who really wants to do the right thing, but is in a constrained circumstance.

There's another issue I get. Big companies develop their own language. When you're in the thick of a company, you start speaking company language. So when they sound unnatural, or are very precise about branding and products etc... It's because of the internal culture of the company that reinforces that language every day (lord knows, my company has its own language too).

So, I apologize to Jason for questioning his integrity, and accusing him of astroturfing; and I'm taking down the part with the office address and phone number.

And hell, I should probably disclose, my stepmother, and my uncle, both work in senior positions at Verizon.

Yaknow, astroturfers really are idiots.

First, you don't talk like normal human beings. You're always careful to mention your proper branding etc... And you're shrill about criticism. And you are defensive about products, pricing etc...

Normal people just don't talk that way (well... some Apple fanatics do... but calling them "normal people' is a stretch).

Even if I couldn't tell from that you were astroturfers though, I would know, because I'm the site admin. I've got logs.

See, I've got your IP address.

Your IP address, that belongs to "Verizon Business"

I'd say "nice try", but really it wasn't. If you're going to be a corporate shill, at least be an intelligent, well spoken corporate shill...