How Tech Companies Mislead Audiences Using Influencers?

Tech companies have figured out how to squeeze the most positive, favorable coverage out of YouTubers and journalists, and to be honest, we think it is time you knew about it. It is sneaky and underhanded if you look at it objectively. 

Often, some policies lead the influencers into deals that paint over the flaws in a product and generate hype around it. Be it internet service providers, phone companies, or other tech enterprises, you will experience a very different scenario than the rosy image pointed out to you in the reviews. And the worst part is that it’s not even the reviewers’ fault.

Companies tend to establish a very different image of their brand and product quality. There are very few who are true to their advertising like Comcast Xfinity with their unfaltering signal and their robust Xfinity Customer Service network.

We have laid out the five key ways that tech companies manipulate the media. 

1. Giveaways

One thing that seems to be increasing at an alarming rate is giveaways with the launch of reviews. Giveaways can be a great thing, but companies have quickly realized that by partnering up with influencers to make giveaways a part of review videos. They can massively reduce the negativity surrounding their product. 

You probably remember Nothing Ear Ones, right? Well, as part of their hype generation strategy, they did exactly this. It’s tempting because how often does a company say to you they’re going to make you 100 custom versions of their product for you to give to your audience? 

Like, if we’re organizing a giveaway on our own terms, that’s fine, but if a company is saying to us, “Let us send you 50 or 100 units to give away as part of your review video,” immediately what they’re trying to do with that is turn your organic content into a promotional video without needing to pay or write up contracts or even make it officially sponsored. Over to Marquez for number two.

2. The “Coming Soon” Feature

The feature that gets announced on stage makes a lot of headlines and gets people very excited. It is super impressive, but it’s not ready yet. However, this thing was announced on stage, and now you’re holding it in your hand, and it’s not here yet. You have to include maybe a sentence or two about it and what it’s supposed to do. 

An example of this would be when the iPhone 11 came out, and the Deep Fusion camera feature was also announced on stage. So, every written review and every video review had something in there that was a quote from Apple about what Apple said Deep Fusion would do. But then it didn’t come out for a while, and then of course, as you can imagine, weeks later when it did show up, it wasn’t that fantastic or didn’t make a huge difference. 

In written reviews, you can go back and add a couple of sentences. However, with the video reviews, you can’t go back and change it. Conversely, impressions of those quotes from Apple are stuck in people’s heads rather than what the feature was.

3. Embargoes

An embargo is not in itself a bad thing. It’s just basically when a company says, “Don’t publish your videos before this particular time on this particular date.” That’s why you see like 20 videos all at once when a product launches. Every reviewer has been given the same embargo time. But a lot of the time, companies abuse this system with something called a dual embargo. 

They tell reviewers, “When we announce the product, the only videos you can make are first impressions videos. If you want to do any kind of in-depth coverage or any kind of comparison, then you have to wait for the full embargo,” which is a week or two weeks later. 

They come up with some sort of excuse like, “Oh, we need to issue an important software update in that one week,” and they’ll use this to give you a whole list of things that in your first video, you just can’t say or show. 

This happens a lot, and it is pretty clear why companies do it. Two embargoes force the media to split what could have been one article or one video into two to give the company two separate waves of coverage. One set when the product launches, but then also one set a couple of weeks later, which often just so happens to be when that product is coming up for pre-order. This creates an artificially positive review. 

4. Exclusive Interviews

This is along the same lines as companies trying to turn organic impressions and evaluation into promotion for free. Interviews make for a great experience both for the viewer and for influencers. Some time ago, these companies started to realize they could use these interviews as a sort of mask or just use them to offset any negative PR. 

Now interviews have become this interesting, delicate dance to walk because companies will approach you with an interview they want to do. 

5. Out-of-context quoting

Crafting a product review script is a task that requires a lot of attention. We try to make a tight, structured storyline that is meant to be watched from start to finish. And we’d like to think that this makes them useful videos to engage with. But it also means that if you just take one sentence out in isolation, it is not at all going to summarize the subtlety of what we’re trying to say. 

Consider this example, an influencer made a full review about the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and titled this video “The Flawless Samsung”. This review is complete with positive and negative feedback. Chances are that the company might take that title out of context and render their model one without any flaws.

One of the major examples of out-of-context quoting is mashup videos, the 30-second or so quickfire cuts from various reviewers. It’s very clear why they make these videos. They’re short, they’re sharp, and they leverage the trust that people have in these reviewers. But they chop out all the caveats. 

They’ll cut videos mid-sentence to exclude any negatives, any “buts” they might mention, to make it seem like they’ve just created the perfect phone. If you chop out the caveats, you could make the Red Hydrogen One, a phone that was universally regarded as a miserable fail, seem like an incredible device. 

Summing Up

There you have it: pre-launched giveaways, features coming soon, dual embargoes, exclusives, interviews, and out-of-context quoting. Now you know. And the more you know the better.


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