I received an email yesterday from the Sprint Ambassador Program. A bit skeptical that this was spam, I read the email and was intrigued. Apparently, Sprint has developed program to get new phones and service lines into the hands of folks who would hopefully give them feedback and evangelize their products.
The Sprint Ambassador Program is all about exploring our latest products and services and allows you to give direct feedback to Sprint. We recently launched the Sprint Power Vision (SM) Network and want to provide you with the full experience, at no charge. Sprint Power Vision Network enables customers to download data at faster speeds and experience new data products.
As a qualified participant, we will send you one Sprint Power Vision phone and provide you with six months of all-access service (at no charge). Youâ??ll have access to the Sprint Music Store(SM) live TV broadcasts, gaming and more. Yes, you will also have unlimited free calling and data service. Itâ??s a pretty good deal and all we ask for in return is your candid feedback (you decide how much and how often).
After a bit or research, it looks like this is a program targeting bloggers. By no means am I an A-lister (is there such a thing as C or D lister?), so Sprint is obviously casting a wider net that one would initially think. And that’s a good thing. If I were in their position, I’d be looking for the following to gain entrance into the Ambassador program:
1) blog regularly
2) have been blogging for a while
3) preferably be high profile / high traffic / high readership
4) write about technology
5) specifically have written about wireless/mobile in the past
If we take these five hypothetical considerations for determining who to reach out to with a program like this, it makes a bit more sense of those bloggers invited. Out of the above five, I think I easily meet four of them (hint: high profile is not one of them!). This is a great marketing effort for Sprint. Relatively low cost project, potential high rewards. When I receive the phone, I will definitely give it a full workout and blog the results. There are some comments on Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine and Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion posts regarding how ethical a program like this is for Sprint. I completely agree with Jeff and Steve. As long as the blogger is disclosing the fact that Sprint is giving the phone for free (we get to keep it after the six months is up) and giving us the free service during the program, I don’t see the issue. As a reader, you have all the facts and can make your own opinions about what we write. I carefully read Sprint’s Terms and Conditions before agreeing to participate and there was no mention of restrictions on blogging any comments – positive or negative. They only ask for feedback, but it’s not required:
Selected Ambassadors are not required to participate in any surveys or provide feedback, but it is encouraged.
A few more disclaimers: I used to be a Product Manager for Sprint (managed hosting) and I used to be a Sprint subscriber for many years. Everyone has issues with every carrier, but I never had any problems with Sprint so I’m a little biased in that regard. Interestingly, the only reason I switched from Sprint to T-Mobile was their lack of support for BlackBerry at the time.
So, although I’m more of a smartphone person (something with full QWERTY keyboard), I’m looking forward to seeing this phone in action. I’m finding this Live TV feature a bit hard to believe, but I’ll find out soon enough.