The PR BlogPublic RelationsMarketing PRCorporational Determinism: Grandiose Product Launches

Corporational Determinism: Grandiose Product Launches

Tell your story, but don't revise history to fit your exaggerations.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Tech is embra­cing a trend labelled cor­por­a­tion­al determinism.

So, we might need to rethink our product launches.

We used to do product launches to launch new products. Today, product launch­ing for the sake of launch­ing products might be a pub­lic rela­tions tac­tic of the past. Many big tech com­pan­ies reg­u­larly do big launches des­pite not hav­ing heav­ily over­stated iter­at­ive advance­ments to report. 

Classical pub­lic rela­tions advice sug­gests that you should­n’t call for a press con­fer­ence if you haven’t got any­thing sub­stan­tial for the journ­al­ists to report, but this might be a rule in need of revision.

Let’s look at a recent research paper on the topic:

The Strategy: Grandiose Remarks of Self Importance

A recent research paper pro­poses a new the­or­et­ic­al concept — cor­por­a­tion­al determ­in­ism. The abstract states:

This paper pro­poses a new the­or­et­ic­al concept, cor­por­a­tion­al determ­in­ism, to describe nar­rat­ives by which digit­al media cor­por­a­tions are presen­ted as the main or only agency inform­ing socio-tech­nic­al change. It aims to unveil how digit­al media cor­por­a­tions employ such nar­rat­ives to rein­ter­pret the past of digit­al media, to under­line their lead­ing role in present soci­et­ies, and to show their abil­ity in pre­dict­ing and shap­ing the future.”

I’m sure many of us would agree; big tech com­pan­ies have a flair for want­ing to rewrite his­tory and name them­selves as lead dom­i­n­os in chan­ging the world. 

It’s also fair to assume that big tech com­pan­ies are push­ing this nar­rat­ive past the point of being that obnox­ious type at a social event who can­’t stop talk­ing about just how mag­ni­fi­cent they are.

Nurturing the Myth of the Incessant Revolution

Taking pride in actu­al accom­plish­ments is sens­ible. Revising his­tory to fit with gran­di­ose exag­ger­a­tions is douchebag­gery. In Fast Company, Simone Natale describes the driver of cre­at­ing such myths:

Believing that one single device brought about a digit­al revolu­tion is like see­ing a crowd of people in Times Square and assum­ing they turned up because you broad­cast on WhatsApp that every­one should go there. It is, how­ever, a con­veni­ent point of view for huge cor­por­a­tions such as Apple or Google. To keep their pos­i­tion in the digit­al mar­ket, these com­pan­ies not only need to design soph­ist­ic­ated hard­ware and soft­ware, they also need to nur­ture the myth that we live in a state of incess­ant revolu­tion of which they are the key engine.”

the it crowd vanity GIF
the it crowd vanity GIF

Just Go Ahead and Tell Your Story

Instead of mak­ing it all about the new products, shift­ing the mes­saging emphas­is towards how the brand fits with­in a lar­ger story would make sense. 

However, in gen­er­al, there is some­thing for brands to learn from cor­por­a­tion­al determinism. 

One long-stand­ing chal­lenge with product launches is the rel­at­ively short spike of atten­tion it gen­er­ates, only to return to nor­mal interest levels shortly after. 

Therefore, launch­ing new products with the primary pub­lic rela­tions object­ive might make more sense to rein­force your brand story.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has


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