From tech geeks to main street, open source technology finds converts.
Sometimes the best stories start with a hard stop. A moment when the obvious, history-making next step becomes clear. On a weekday evening in 2004, that’s what a Haberman storyteller experienced surfing the Web. An Internet virus exploited a hole in Microsoft Explorer and crashed his computer. Exasperated, he started searching and found Firefox, an open source browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. Energized, he did more searching and discovered an enormous, pent up demand for a better browser. The next step was clear – support Firefox. Get the word out. The first step was a call for fans to make donations and buy a full-page in the New York Times. Haberman began promoting the campaign virally, sharing information with fellow advocates on message boards, news sites and blogs. In 17 hours, the effort had received contributions from 10,000 advocates in 82 nations. The ad ran. Haberman continued fueling media interest, pitching the grassroots campaign as a story to the nation’s top-tier technology, consumer lifestyle and business media. The bottom line? In 18 months, Firefox gained 10 percent market share of the web browser market.
Cheering for a New Hero
The “David vs. Goliath” story struck a chord with media, which pursued a variety of angles, including the rise of Firefox, the power and passion of its early adopters, and the inherent faults in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Engaging Advocates Through Mainstream News
Media relations generated hundreds of millions of media impressions, including a Wired cover story and features in the New York Times and USA Today. Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman profiled the initiative in his celebrated book The World is Flat.