WS' will promote the products and services under Microsoft's Connected TV umbrella, which includes Windows Media Center and the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV platform. When the latter two were brought into the Connected TV organization in late 2007 to improve the product and technologies of both groups, the company decided to consolidate its PR and began its review in early 2008.
Brady said Microsoft plans to position itself as a market leader for new generation TV-centric services by leveraging innovations in software and broadband connectivity.
“It's a very strategically important business for Microsoft but it's still largely in its nascent stage,” he said. “TV is going to change a lot of the next five years, and Microsoft is in a position to be a real leader to make that change happen.”
The PR work will include outreach to the telecommunications industry and entertainment sectors, as well as business audiences and consumers. It will also include extensive media and analyst relations.
Although WS will spearhead the effort, the firm will continue to work with some regional agencies on a project basis in Europe and Asia.
Prior to selecting WS, Microsoft had worked with all three agencies - Edelman, WE, and WS - for PR on its TV businesses, and each firm pitched for the new account, Brady said.
“Edelman, Waggener-Edstrom, and Weber Shandwick are Microsoft's three main agencies of record,” Brady explained. “Each of those agencies works in various aspects of Microsoft's business.”
The contract goes into effect this July, and will be reevaluated in one year. He declined to cite the budget.
“There will be very clear goals and objectives that the agency and PR department will be measured against,” Brady said, but declined to specify those goals.
WS deferred to Microsoft for all comments on this story, while Edelman and WE did not return calls seeking comment.