The company has called in its three global PR agencies – Weber Shandwick, Edelman and Waggener Edstrom – to ‘present credentials’ at its global HQ in the US.
‘Microsoft wants to find direction and set strategy,’ said an agency source involved in the review. ‘It is basically figuring out how it can tap into the power of social media and make specific impact for product groups.’
Another agency source said the initiative was in line with Microsoft’s aim of boosting consumer engagement to better compete with rivals such as Google and Apple.
‘The digital aspiration is heavily consumer-oriented,’ said the source. ‘Microsoft is pretty obsessed with developing a consumer franchise for the brand. Historically, it has had great b2b and government relations.’
The plans have emerged just weeks after the appointment of British-born Simon Sproule as V-P of corporate communications (PRWeek, 13 February).
The review does not affect Microsoft UK’s consumer and online account, which was handed to mid-sized agency
3 Monkeys earlier this year (PRWeek, 7 January), and which covers MSN, Windows Live, Windows Vista and Windows Mobile.
In recent months, Microsoft has reorganised its consumer business to sharpen its edge. ‘Once you take out Xbox, it’s not a brand that consumers will die for,’ said a source familiar with Microsoft.
Microsoft EMEA PR lead Pete Devery confirmed the process was under way, but denied it amounted to a pitch. ‘It is suppliers showcasing credentials to procurement,’ he said. Devery declined to comment on the review’s specific focus, noting that digital PR was a ‘broad area’.
Microsoft web issues
2009 Tech blog engadget slams latest version of Windows Mobile, saying: ‘Microsoft limped out a half-hearted rehash… and managed to blind most onlookers with bloated PR.’
2008 Vista operating system faces criticism from bloggers, and is bashed in an Apple advertising campaign.
2007 Buys £117m stake in Facebook, amounting to 1.6 per cent of the site.