Sony Extends Online PR Strategy With Community Site

Sony is launching a new online community to better facilitate communication with its customers, and provide a forum for those customers to speak with one another, CEO Howard Stringer announced last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The announcement came during Stringer’s two-hour, star-studded keynote presentation that included Tom Hanks, with whom Stringer uploaded a photo to the new site, baseball legend Reggie Jackson and musician Usher. Hanks stars in the upcoming Sony picture, “Angels & Demons.”

The new site, currently in beta testing mode, will provide Sony an opportunity to hear unvarnished opinions from fans and detractors, Marcy Cohen, Sony’s senior manager for corporate communications, said.

“The site is really about listening to what consumers want from us and talking to them about what we’re doing,” she said. “It gives us a chance to hear directly from customers and people who are passionate about the brand — and people who aren’t so passionate about it.”

Sony also hopes the site will serve as a gathering place where Sony customers can trade tips, offer opinions and ask for help from one another.

The site, at electronicsblog.sel.sony.com, is the continuation of Sony’s strategy to intimately engage consumers online, which began a year and a half ago with a corporate blog.

“A lot of people look at a company like Sony and sometimes feel like no there is face behind it, no personalization,” Cohen said. Engaging consumers directly allows Sony to participate in the kind of “frank dialogue” not available elsewhere, she said.

Other facets of the Sony digital outreach strategy include a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and a Flickr page. The social network is being rolled out in phases, and will eventually allow users to create profiles so they can share photos, videos and other media.

Awareness, a Waltham, MA-based company that builds online communities, created the site. Sony will monitor and maintain it in-house.

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