Fake Journalist, Fanatic Marketer - MxInstaller

By John Honovich, Published Mar 07, 2013, 12:00am EST (Info+)

This may be the future of manufacturer marketing. Each day, the once dominant manufacturer marketing machine is further drowned out by the rise of the Internet. PR hacks continue to send out boring press releases, hoping that more than a few friends will read them or that a trade magazine will copy them for literally just a few more. The model is failing, but we see a solution on the horizon.

While Mobotix continues to fade away, yet another one of their innovations may prove to be a template for future rival's success. If you have not seen MxInstaller [link no longer available], I urge you to take a look. He claims to be a 'journalist' but a particularly curious one. 

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Other *************?

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*** ****** ** ********. *********** ******* it, *** ** ***** ****** *** others - *** ************* *********, *** Avigilon ******, *** ********* ********** *** more.

Comments (14)

Two points:

  • Right or wrong, this is hardly new. Quirky, cultish products - including Apple, VW and yes, Mobotix - have often had to create their own media infrastructure because the generic (computer / automotive / security, respectively) media don't frame the discussions of the day in the same terms as the crusaders who have bought into a different worldview.
  • It's only fair for this post to mention the recent issue between MxInstaller and IPVM in order to deliver the whole story.

MxInstaller's approach is different for the security industry and not something that is just for 'quirky, cultish products'. I absolutely think every big surveillance manufacturer should have their equivalent to MxInstaller. Think of all the manufacturers who spend $5,000 on a single page ad in a single trade magazine. How much content could an integrator produce with those same resources? How much of an audience and how much search traffic could they capture with such an ongoing effort?

The 'recent issue' with MxInstaller is the 'fake journalist' element of the article but the overall message is very positive about MxInstaller. Sure, he's obviously not a journalist, and it's silly for him to think he is, but he has done an absolutely amazing job advocating Mobotix. And it's actually a lot tougher given their weird and declining market position.

The reality is the media is going to do nothing for security manufacturers. They are not going out doing their our research or reporting. Manufacturers need to do it on their own, and the MxInstaller approach is far more cost effective and powerful than traditional security PR programs.

What this and the examples that Scott mentioned show is the emergence and power of what PR people are calling "brand journalism."

Companies see that they can launch these pseudo-media organizations/campaigns knowing many people will have a hard time knowing the difference and that most media organizations don't have time or resources or expertise to vet most of what they're saying.

This new boldness by PR is facilitated by a couple different things, one being the shrinking newsroom. Less reporters are producing more content than ever before, which means less time to digest information and form thoughts and questions about it -- and the PR people know it. For trade publications asking questions can be the difference between getting advertising dollars or not, which is why it's easier to reprint a press release.

(Here's good read on the shift of the balance of power from journalists to PR is The Hamster Wheel from Columbia Journalism Review.)

But what's happening now is that instead of just waiting to give some spin to a journalist or pushing a trade pub to print your release, they produce their own "news channel" and push it themselves.

PR guru Mark Ragan pushes "brand journalism" a lot, calling on companies to be the "best storytellers they can be.

"You are now the big media companies," he says.

I think they call it "journalism" to try and make what they're doing seem less like propaganda when really it's just ramped up PR.

John - Back in 2009 the FTC ruled that "bloggers who review products must disclose any connection with advertisers, including, in most cases, the receipt of free products and whether or not they were paid in any way by advertisers" - see this NY Times article for reference.

This is not the same thing as content marketing (a.k.a. brand journalism), the storytelling-marketing trend of the moment, because this person is not identifying himself as a representative of the manufacturer.

Diana, thanks for the feedback. While he sometimes does not identify himself as a representative of the manufacturer, he clearly is. Indeed, both MxInstaller and Mobotix have acknowledged that they have a financial relationship, though MxInstaller is not happy when this is brought up.

I don't think there's anything wrong with Mobotix paying MxInstaller. He delivers great value to them.

I don't doubt that he's an agent of the manufacturer. It's not the payment that's a problem, it's the lack of disclosure. In the conversation you posted,he never admitted he was a paid agent of anyone, even though the FCC requires that he say so. He may not be aware of the ruling, but that's no defense.

He is definitely delivering benefit to Mobotix, but manufacturers shouldn't even consider taking this route without being fully forthcoming. In the early days of blogging, this may have looked like an easy route to getting great reviews and good word-of-mouth on the internet, but in reality it's easy to trace posts back - which makes the manufacturers look very bad.

Diana, I understand what you are saying and I agree he should disclose it.

He probably thinks he's immune to the FCC and FTC seeing he is Australian and based down here. If you have a quick read in the "about "page of his site...

'Inspired after a chance meeting with MOBOTIX founder Dr Ralf Hinkel during a European conference in 2007, Simon Hall went back to Australia with an idea that eventually became a reality in 2008. The concept was to create a monthly community publication that would be freely available to anyone wanting to learn about the revolutionary MOBOTIX technology."

Simon also has another company called The Ip Academy - online training for Mobotix which appears to fund the MX installer.

I'm off to find my suit for an install.... apparently a T shirt, shorts and flip-flops (with a high vis vest) isn't acceptable :)

In fairness, it is called, 'MxInstallter' which to anyone who knows even a little about Mobotix recognizes this as a play on their abbreviation (e.g., Mobotix's MxPEG). The name itself is kind of a disclosure.

Now, what I think is materially misleading is this statement in the about page, "MxInstaller magazine is an independent publication." It's clearly and admittedly a publication about Mobotix so there's little reason to pretend that it's truly 'independent'.

Earlier, Carlton cited a PR/marketing person named Mark Ragan. He's a pretty fascinating character. If you are a manufacturer, I strongly encourage you to watch this video:

I don't have a problem with this as long as they have MXinstaller logo or url in their video, like the one posted, or state the name in the YouTube Description. Like most things, the buyer has to be somewhat smart and do some research before buying. We live in a capitalist country, so the buyer needs to make a little effort at making an educated buy.

Also...when it comes to the internet...the internet is global...A countries laws should not apply to the internet as global law. If that was the case...the internet would be half dead.

I think they also go under the guise of "IPAcademy" on YouTube.

One more thing that is worth mentioning: The videos are really very helpful! They've helped me close many sales.

My question is when will vendors learn how to make decent videos instead of chunking out case studies that few people read?

Bob, agreed. They are strong technical sales presentations (though with questionable assumptions, etc.).

I really don't know why more manufacturers do not follow this route. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

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