There has been a lot of mourning about the bursting of the New Economy bubble, but heres one big plus: Mindless hype has largely gone out of style.
Perhaps public relations firms learned something during the great hyperbole tornado of the last few years — that all that glitters is not The Next Big Internet Co. Whether it was push technology (remember that?) or business-to-business marketplaces (most croaked before they ever got going) or free Net access (a bad idea that proved to be just as dumb as we all thought), the breathless pandering ultimately led nowhere.
While I miss the continuous flow of venture-backed marketing freebies — the logo-inscribed pens, T-shirts, cigars, mugs, jelly-bean dispensers, sunglasses, socks, desk clocks, calculators, stuffed toys, model cars, luggage locks, hand exercisers, paper holders, fridge magnets, a property deed for 1 square inch of Hawaii, footballs, cigar clippers and a huge slab of Hersheys chocolate — my office is far less cluttered. The companies that sent these things are mostly extinct.
Theres also been a return to some semblance of restraint in the press releases that now come across my desk. Out are the earth-shattering claims to change the face of [name your industry here]; in are product descriptions that talk about the small but important details of why the new offering matters.
Its where we should have been all along.
The one sector that hasnt changed a bit is security vendors. That bunch of screamers takes every opportunity to hawk their wares through shrill campaigns that tout every last virus and worm as the end of humanity as we know it. Oh, and by the way, their software will protect you from the Scourge of the Week.
The endless publicity screeds ultimately weaken the security companies place in the market. If theyre so good, why make so much noise? The constant hyping also raises the issue of crying wolf. Not every virus is Code Red. And come to think of it, Code Red wasnt really all that Code Reddish. The constant sirens and flashing lights just engender distrust of an industry that excels at ambulance chasing.
The new economic mood is all about what you can deliver — period. People should have learned by now that gassy chatter amounts to just a puff of pretentiousness wrapped around abysmal business plans.