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Coming soon to YouTube: Sun product videos

In a sequel to employee blogs, Sun Microsystems urges employees to publish videos promoting the company's wares.

In a sequel to its advocacy of internal blogs, Sun Microsystems has begun encouraging its rank-and-file employees to publish videos promoting the company's products.

Sun has launched an internal contest to see who can publish the most compelling video at video-sharing site YouTube, said Sun Chief Marketing Officer Anil Gadre. He said that Sun minions tell him, "If I could just get out and tell everyone about my product myself, we would sell so much more," Gadre said. "YouTube allows us to enable every one of them to do just that."

The internal contest has triggered some inter-group rivalry, Gadre said. John Fowler, executive vice president of the server group, posted his own Halloween video exhorting his employees to come up with "creative, wacky, energizing educational videos."

Sun was credited with visionary status in the dot-com boom but has struggled to win back its prestige and influence since then. In an effort to once again "become part of the conversation" among computing equipment buyers, Sun executives have encouraged their employees to publish their own blogs.

Employee blogs pose some risk that information will be released before it's been vetted by lawyers, public relations staff or marketing departments. But the company is out to become more visible: High-profile bloggers include Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz, General Counsel Mike Dillon and Chief Technology Officer Greg Papadopoulos, have their own blogs.

Schwartz has been trying to elevate the blog even more. In October he argued that companies should be permitted to disseminate official information via blogs and the company's Web site. In that blog entry, he published his request to Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Cox responded Thursday in a comment to Schwartz's blog. He said that before such a move would be possible, companies would need to be able to guarantee that their Web sites indeed provide the "broad non-exclusionary access" required by fair-disclosure regulations.