Why Integrity Matters and Why I Don’t Shill

It may sound counter-intuitive, coming from the head of a PR, Marketing and Product Design firm, but I don’t believe in hype.

I believe that great products and great PR come from speaking authentically, not shrieking hyperbolically. I make my living building and promoting great consumer technologies and I believe deeply in integrity. Integrity matters at every level in this business: personal integrity, technical integrity and the integrity of my agency and its clients.

For a product to be great, it must have integrity. Whether it is a web service, smart app, gadget or set top box, consumer media must perform as advertised. It must play fair and not cut corners. A great piece of new technology is honest at all times: from the development stage to product launch and beyond.

My integrity informs my relationships with clients. If a product needs work, I say so.

I have been lucky enough to primarily take work from products I believe in, personally and professionally, and I am hopeful that trend will continue.

The first step in building great PR and Marketing strategies is working with exceptional clients whose work you can stand behind.

I am proud of Stage Two’s growing client list, but I will never put the interests of my clients ahead of my own integrity. For example, I recently joined Cult of Mac as a guest blogger. I could, very easily, include a link to Pogoplug or publish a post that hypes Boxee in order to help my clients. But I won’t mention these links unless they are essential to my point or my subject matter. My reputation in the technology space was founded, in part, by my integrity (not to mention my proven ability to create and improve amazing consumer electronics).

I have a history of playing fair and calling things like I see them. At the end of the day, I make my mark on the technology world through my opinions and insight, not my client list. I do, at times, mention my clients, especially on the Stage Two blog. I do this because I love writing about consumer technology and the convergence space. I would write about VUDU and Boxee even if they weren’t clients. It just so happens, they are.  Further, I have no undisclosed relationships.

My integrity also informs my relationships with the press. If I write something online, I mean it. Hype is forgettable. It is noise. I don’t B.S. industry veterans or journalists. Media outlets approach me because they value my opinions. I believe that they value my integrity and my forthrightness. I am friends with – and even related to – journalists in the tech space. I will never let a product supersede a personal relationship. In a world of spin, I do my best to keep things on the level.

Bottom line for complete clarity: none of my clients pay me to write about them, they pay me to inform their plans, their strategies, their products.  I do not and will not take checks to write blog posts here or anywhere else.  It’s not worth it.

Finally, my integrity informs my attitudes. What was that old phrase? “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” It’s true. My intention is always to find a fix to a tech problem, not tear down faulty tech with a barrage of complaints. Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I bruise some egos and ruffle feathers. But those outcomes are never my intention. My goal in business and as an expert in consumer electronics is to inform and educate people about technology. And I always intend to improve technology and help share new experiences with others.

*For full disclosure, this post was drafted in partnership with Stage Two’s awesome copywriter. He’s my Watson. You are also welcome to read the Stage Two Code of Ethics.

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