It has been widely reported that Google’s Gmail has been having problems lately. Now it seems like Microsoft perhaps had a hand in spreading the news coverage, fanning the flames a bit.
Here is a quote from an InformationWeek article about the recent Gmail outages:
That didn’t stop a Microsoft spokesperson from reaching out to me to make sure I was aware of the current Google Apps problems. The spokesperson said to me in an e-mail, “The Gmail outage was reported (and buried) on a discussion board yesterday and a solution is expected (but not promised) by EOD today — 24 hrs later.”
He implied that the story wasn’t getting the press that it should.
So, basically, Microsoft’s PR people are trying to make sure that Google’s trouble gets as much attention as possible.
We were curious if this happens a lot. Do companies often contact journalists to point out the failings of their competitors?
We fired off this question to Eric Zeman, the journalist at InformationWeek who wrote the article we quoted from above, and here is what he told us:
I don’t know about other journalists, but I get emails like that all the time. Whenever something bad happens to a company, or a company performs really poorly at something, a competitor’s PR firm will send out a reminder about how good their product is in comparison.
I also get a lot of pitches from competing companies when someone announces good news. I’ll get a pitch worded similar to “So-and-so announced this today, but we’d like to offer a counterpoint to what they’re really doing and tell you why our stuff is better…”
So, judging by this, this kind of behavior seems to be common practice among many PR departments, and not just at Microsoft.
What do you think about this?