nullREDMOND, WA: Forget Judge Jackson and focus on the Appeals Court. That seems to be the latest communications missile deployed by Microsoft in the PR battle surrounding its seemingly never-ending federal antitrust trial.
REDMOND, WA: Forget Judge Jackson and focus on the Appeals Court.
That seems to be the latest communications missile deployed by Microsoft
in the PR battle surrounding its seemingly never-ending federal
In the wake of the US District Court ruling released last Wednesday,
which ordered Microsoft split into two separate companies, the Redmond,
WA-based software giant issued a VNR and written statement by Bill Gates
asserting its commitment to appealing the case and calling the verdict
’unjustified.’ Gates also made himself available to reporters for
questioning via a live satellite press conference, in which he
reiterated the company’s position that it had done nothing wrong and
would be vindicated.
For the first time, Gates implicitly conceded that the company’s PR
efforts might have been off-base: ’Microsoft and the whole story of the
PC was missed here. I should have taken the opportunity to go and talk
about this industry and what it has meant in terms of empowering
What lies next for the company in terms of PR remains unclear. Gates is
said to be setting up face-to-face post-verdict ’debriefing’ meetings
with groups of key employees, and may post full trial briefs and other
relevant Department of Justice information on the company’s corporate
Reaction from the hi-tech PR community was fairly subdued. ’Nobody’s
talking about this, because nothing is really going to change for
years,’ said one Silicon Valley pro.
But the Crisis Management Institute’s Larry Smith countered that
Microsoft’s fairly low-key reaction was right on the mark. ’Talking to
too many reporters at this point just keeps the lawsuit in the
headlines,’ he explained.
’There are other more important audiences to consider. They need to keep
morale up for employees and reassure shareholders about the strength of
On the other hand, Richard Laermer, CEO of NYC-based hi-tech firm RLM
Public Relations, thinks the company has not gone far enough to court
’If Gates really is perceived as a bully, he should go out on the road
to prove he’s not. I would have him take a ’Springfield’ tour, visiting
that town in every state, and show people who believe they’re going to
be screwed by the break-up that he’s just a regular guy,’ said
’You know that Congress will be watching, and if a thousand of their
constituents turn out to give Gates a rousing ovation, it’s going to
make a difference.’
Interestingly, Microsoft appears to have a head start in the court of
public opinion. Just prior to Judge Jackson’s final ruling, a Gallup
opinion poll showed that 54% of US citizens believe the company should
not be split up and that 69% still have a favorable opinion of
Microsoft’s PR minions, including company reps at Edelman/DC and chief
antitrust trial corporate spokesperson Jim Cullinan, did not return
calls for comment.