Missouri Helps Microsoft Advertise With Dignity
If a software company announced that it would teach, for free, tens of thousands of people how to use its products, people might view that as a ploy to snag customers. Every business wants people to be comfortable with its products so they’ll buy more. The company could put out a press release saying that it wanted to teach people out of the goodness of its heart, but customers might discern a profit motive.
Microsoft has found a solution to this public-relations dilemma: It will conduct the free training, and people will have to go through the Missouri state website to sign up. (The program is coming to other states, too.) Microsoft claims that its selfless intention is to grow the economy.
There’s no good reason for people to go through the government to collect their vouchers for training — they could just as well apply on the Microsoft website. All that this “partnership” with the state accomplishes is that it makes Microsoft look noble. The state should not be recruiting people for this training, just like it shouldn’t give out pizza samples in a grocery store or perfume samples at the mall.
I’ve got nothing against advertising and free training, but don’t ask the government to sign off on it like you’re a Newfoundland seeking official status.