Microsoft awards DC work to Burson

WASHINGTON: Microsoft has awarded Burson-Marsteller a contract for public affairs work in Washington, DC, following a competitive pitch.

WASHINGTON: Microsoft has awarded Burson-Marsteller a contract for public affairs work in Washington, DC, following a competitive pitch.

Lori Harnick, Microsoft senior director of PR based in Redmond, WA, oversees public affairs for the software maker. She said the agency was selected for general PR and public affairs work in Washington following an RFP due to “its people, its expertise.”

Glover Park Group previously handled some of the public affairs work that Burson will now work on, Harnick said. Microsoft continues to work with Glover Park on projects, she added.

Harnick declined to provide specific details on the scope of the public affairs work, saying it was still in the early stages. “It's really a mix of things… there are a number of issues we're looking at.”

The company recently launched a new online forum for academia to discuss technology policy issues like antitrust and privacy. Microsoft is facing a variety of issues in Washington, including scrutiny of its alliance with Yahoo.

Industry sources said this new piece of business is for “on-the-ground” DC support and is very “Beltway-focused.”

Microsoft employs a number of agencies for its diverse portfolio, and it has worked with Burson in the past on other public affairs work, including its 2007 opposition to the Google-DoubleClick deal. A Burson representative deferred all comment to Microsoft.

Larry Kamer, who leads the public affairs division at Glover Park and works with Microsoft, said by e-mail that the agency “has worked closely with Microsoft on a wide range of public policy issues for the past eight years and continues to do so.”

Asked if the account change would affect the firm's financial health, he wrote, “Our firm is enjoying strong financial performance and expanded both its employee base and client offerings in 2009.”

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