MySpace: Be ready to read this story twice
MySpace, the online social network (can we still call it that now that it has ducked out of the Facebook/Twitter competition?), appears to be pursuing what I’ll call the “two-pronged news strategy.” You get used to it when you cover media and technology. For those of you who don’t enjoy this privilege, it goes like this:
- Pick a news outlet that you like and whisper things to them about what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be interesting, it just has to be exclusive. If you’re in public relations, you don’t even have to know that someone in your company is doing this. It works well for you.
- Let the rest of the press read the story and bombard your telephone and e-mail with messages demanding to know if it’s true. Score a big hit on the news cycle. Because you either decline to comment or only want to talk “on background,” it heightens the air of mystery — and newsworthiness.
- The official announcement of the news, which will always resemble 90 percent or more of what you read in the first round of anonymously sourced stories, will get just as much attention as that first round. It’s a 2-for-1 deal that is irresistible to many companies.
I don’t know that MySpace is doing this, and wouldn’t be able to confirm it if I asked. It could just be that the reporters who get the breaking news have great sources and the reporter asked smart questions that would yield good answers. I’ll let you judge.
The first example comes from Kara Swisher, tech blogger at AllThingsD, which is MySpace’s cousin in the News Corp family. She reports:
Microsoft’s MSN is in preliminary talks with MySpace about using the social networking site’s music service, MySpace Music, to help power music offerings on the giant portal. …
Sources said Microsoft execs don’t think they can do as good a job as MySpace is doing and don’t see the point in striking needed but complex deals with music labels, which the News Corp. (NWS) property already has.
MySpace, Swisher adds, would get a “gusher” of traffic. I asked MySpace whether we could talk about this. From spokeswoman: “Off the record I can’t comment.” OK.
The second example is this story in The Telegraph from Monday:
Facebook and MySpace are in talks about sharing content across both sites, according to senior figures at the two companies. The move could potentially see MySpace music and video footage being shared on Facebook via its Connect platform, which allows people to log into third party sites using their Facebook ID.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told The Telegraph: “Facebook is focussing on building the best technology which helps people share content, while at MySpace they are focussing on more a content-led strategy. We would like to have their content, as we already do with many other sites, shared across our network because it is good for our users.
On this one, MySpace CEO and former Facebook executive Owen Van Natta confirmed the talks on the record. But I’m in the position of only being able to refer you to that article.
On the record, MySpace wouldn’t comment. I suspect that the comments will come later when we rewrite the Telegraph’s story along with the rest of the press corps.