SEATTLE: Microsoft has moved its MSN-branded Internet business - reportaedly worth close to $5 million in PR fees - from Shandwick's Bellevue, WA, branch to longtime agency-of-record Waggener Edstrom.
The shift coincides with an overall restructuring of Microsoft's Internet operations and is not a reflection of Shandwick's performance, according to Deanna Sanford, product marketing manager for the company's consumer and commerce group.
'With a new MS organization and some new people joining the group, it was the right time to evaluate various parts of the business,' she said.
Waggener already handles the vast majority of Microsoft's corporate and product PR, including the Windows consumer and business productivity groups. Edelman Worldwide is also on the Microsoft roster for various public affairs and software projects.
Shandwick will continue to work on some Microsoft business and will provide counsel in conjunction with Waggener on ventures such as WebTV.
Casey Sheldon, head of Shandwick/Seattle, remained optimistic about the MSN loss, saying no layoffs were planned and that there is plenty of business to keep her staffers busy, including work on non-Microsoft accounts such as Boullion Aviation and Mosaix, a software company.
Despite these comments, Shandwick/Seattle is still likely to face a rocky future. Opened in 1996 specifically to service the MSN account, the Seattle outpost counted on Microsoft for a substantial part of its income. If the $5 million estimate for the Net business is close to accurate, more than 80% of the office's income in '98 was derived from Microsoft.