Stun-gun maker Taser blogs to beat bad buzz

Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:47am EDT
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By Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

BANGALORE (Reuters) - When the 49ers were battling the Cardinals in a National Football League game earlier this year, a Facebook update by stun gun maker Taser proclaimed that the San Francisco-based team's "Taser formation" could be the tipping factor.

The company, whose main product is a lightning rod for criticism, is increasingly using blogs and social networks to promote new products and dispel anxieties about them.

Tasers, also known as conductive energy weapons, disable people with a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity, and have become increasingly popular with police around the world.

Taser's latest X3 gun, which can shoot multiple targets simultaneously, assumes the company's Facebook persona, evangelizing about products and engaging customers with football banter.

The 49ers did go on to win the game using their Taser formation, as the Facebook update said. And that was another small step for the company in taking its much-maligned guns closer to the people.

On average, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company spends about $4 million a year in litigation-related expenses -- more than its annual net profit in 2008.

Taser currently has 46 pending lawsuits related to the use of its guns. One of the company's priorities is to reduce this burden on the company's numbers.

And this is one reason why the company has taken to blogging, Twittering, using networking sites and creating an online evidence "warehouse."   Continued...

<p>Brian Black of Taser International demonstrates their X26 model at a trade show for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Montreal August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>