An organization often in the news here in the UK is Phorm, the US-registered company behind some controversial experiments to measure peopleâ€™s behaviours when theyâ€™re online through behavioural targeting.
The latest move by Phorm in an escalating battle to win over opinions is an interesting one â€“ set up a website with a catchy name where you can explain your position on all the issues you want.
This lets you directly address your critics and what you see as misleading, even incorrect, commentary and opinion elsewhere about you and what you do, on your own terms: you’re in charge, in control of the venue, as it were, and able to offer written content thatâ€™s discoverable, linkable and shareable, embracing many of the social aspects of online communication methods today to give your content some good chances of it being shared and, thus, talked about.
I like the concept of what Phorm is doing. It reminds me of what General Motors is doing in the US and what their subsidiaries Opel and Vauxhall are doing in Europe with websites that enable the automaker to directly address myths and falsehoods about their companies, business and brands through credible content and connections to where conversations about that content can take place online. Indeed, conversations are encouraged.
The trouble is, Phormâ€™s execution of the idea doesnâ€™t look very good at all. To start with, the site is a launchpad for some eyebrow-raising personal attacks on their critics. How not to win friends and influence people.
Thereâ€™s also the growing controversy over allegations of government and Phorm collusion, not to mention disquiet about government plans for monitoring what everyone does online, whatever they do.
But even in such a general climate of mistrust, maybe itâ€™s mostly about a huge piece of the jigsaw thatâ€™s missing â€“ connections to conversation places where you can engage with others and voice your opinion. I donâ€™t see that on their â€˜Stop Phoul Playâ€™ site. Phorm does have a blog but little or no conversation takes place there (indeed, it looks like commenting there is disabled).
Instead, conversation takes place almost anywhere else â€“ and Phormâ€™s not an active participant in so many different places.
Earlier, I recorded an Audioboo with some initial thoughts about Phormâ€™s new website and what they might be trying to do with it.
What do you think of Phormâ€™s move? A good move to focus their story, or simply a poorly-executed PR tactic?