In yesterday’s post about creating buzz I mentioned, somewhat in passing, the enormous expectations that buzz can create. To emphasize the importance of having the ability to execute whatever event/endeavor/initiative you’re creating buzz for, I thought I’d pass along the story of a company called Steorn. While I mentioned 1-18-08 and the almighty iPhone as success stories of buzz generation, nothing drives a point home like a tale of failure. Enter Steorn.
Steorn got the tech world talking about a year ago when they floated the claim that they had invented a perpetual motion machine that would generate infinite free energy using only magnetism (and not fuel). While a lot of folks remained skeptical (Steorn’s claims violate the Laws of Thermodynamics, or something like that), the buzz began to build. In April of this year, the Steorn folks released a video that didn’t reveal much (read: anything), and along came more buzz.
Thanks to a boatload of buzz, the stage was set for Steorn’s demonstration of the machine, called Orbo. Needless to say, it didn’t work. A loud flushing sound echoed throughout the tech world as everyone involved with Steorn saw their careers and reputations go right down the toilet. These days, Steorn’s CEO is passing time by doing humiliating interviews and probably feeling awfully lonely.
The lesson here is that you should be careful with buzz. If you make a video that promotes your next midweek service as a life-changing event, it had better be. Otherwise, the people who came to see what all the buzz was about will know better next time. Expectations can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on if your event/endeavor/initiative is actually worthy of the buzz your media and creativity has generated. Also, if you see Steorn’s CEO sitting at the bus stop, buy him a sandwich or something.