Microsoft concentrates comms under Shaw

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft is centralizing its communications structure, bringing together the comms units from various divisions into a combined team led by corporate VP of corporate communications Frank Shaw.

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft is centralizing its communications structure, bringing together the comms units from various divisions into a combined team led by corporate VP of corporate communications Frank Shaw.

Previously, the PR leaders in distinct Microsoft product and service units such as Skype or Xbox reported to their respective marketing leader.

The reorganization is the next step in a broader restructuring at the company, which began revamping other divisions in July.

“We went from having a tightly federated communications team to having a consolidated communications team,” Shaw told PRWeek on Wednesday. “We had already worked together as a comms team to make sure we were doing the right thing at the right time and using the right messages. Now we're simply part of the same team.”

One exception is that the marcomms group working on the launch of the Xbox One gaming console will continue to focus on its debut, he added.

The reorganization will not affect any of Microsoft's PR agency relationships, Shaw said. The company works with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Burson-Marsteller, and Edelman, among others, on various products and services.

“This gives us the ability to tell a story about Microsoft more effectively, more efficiently, and with higher impact – that's what drove the marketing and communications standpoint,” Shaw explained.

After the overall Microsoft reorganization was disclosed in July, Shaw began reporting to marketing head Tami Reller. He had previously reported to CMO Chris Capossela, who began to serve as corporate VP of the consumer channels group post-restructuring. Reller, previously CMO and CFO of Windows, took on the title of EVP of marketing, overseeing the practice globally. She has been working with Mark Penn, EVP of advertising and strategy, on centralizing advertising and media relations.

Penn stepped down from his role as global CEO of Burson-Marsteller in July 2012 to take the role of VP for strategic and special projects at Microsoft. Penn had led Burson since 2005. The WPP Group agency named former Clinton White House communications director Donald Baer to replace him.

Layoffs are not planned as a result of the reorganization, a company spokesperson said. “The centralization of communications is not about headcount reductions, but is focused on optimizing how we work together in support of a single strategy,” the spokesperson added. While the comms division is headquartered in Redmond, WA, the company is not planning to move comms leaders geographically.

Results from Microsoft's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended June 30, missed analyst expectations. The technology giant reported quarterly revenue of $19.9 billion and full fiscal-year revenue of $73.7 billion. It also revealed in SEC filings that it made just $853 million in sales of its Surface tablets in the past fiscal year.

In June, Microsoft Canada selected Veritas as its PR AOR after a review, replacing High Road Communications, which had served as the technology giant's AOR in the country for 12 years. After reviewing its UK b-to-b communications account, Microsoft shifted the work from Bite to Edelman the same month.

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