Want some positive blogger buzz about your product or service? Maybe you should just buy it like Bill Gates. To help promote the Zune and get some positive Microsoft buzz, Gates coughed up a dozen round trip plane tickets to Redmond, hotel rooms, and Zunes (of course) for a group of gadget and tech bloggers. He then hung out with the bloggers for an hour and answered one question from each of them. Once you factor in the total cost of this stunt, I wonder how much Gates paid per letter for a handful of blog posts?

So what did Microsoft get in return for all of this? Were the bloggers wooed by Bill’s big wallet? Yep.

  • Check out the tech-news search engine Techmeme.com. Today their homepage was practically a mural to anything related to Bill Gates, the Zune or Microsoft in general.
  • While most reviewers are panning the Zune, blogs like TechCrunch [see post], Micro Persuasion [see post], and GigaOm [see post], are restricting their Zune coverage to DRM issues or posting “feel good” pieces about Microsoft.

Honestly, my criticalness against these other blogs is probably part jealously. Why wasn’t MethodShop.com invited out to Redmond? Oh well, I’m an iPod guy anyway and we’re too small of a blog to make much of a dent for M$. But I do give some of these bloggers credit. Most of them (not Ryan) were upfront and disclosed that Gates gave them free Zunes and paid for their flights out to Microsoft headquarters.

But on the other hand, should corporate blogs like Micro Persuasion and GigaOm, who have venture-capital financing and/or big name PR firms, really be accepting free stuff and sacrificing their objectivity?

How cheap are your personal ethics?