Microsoft’s Frank Shaw on ‘reimagining’ comms in an AI world


Shaw is encouraging his team to stay curious, be diplomatic and experiment in new ways.

(Photo credit: Getty Images).

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft chief communications officer Frank Shaw published a "lightly edited" version of a memo he sent to staffers on Wednesday, offering comms guidance amidst a series of AI-related moves at the tech giant.

"As communicators, we tell stories that help people fall in love with Microsoft, the things we make and the impact we have in the world," Shaw wrote on LinkedIn. "And now we add – using the incredible potential of artificial intelligence – to that purpose."

After citing curiosity, diplomacy and experimentation as integral to storytelling, Shaw posed a question to his fellow Microsoft comms staffers, "How do we reimagine these skills in this new age where speed and change are constant?"

The former WE president answered his question in three respective categories.

"Will nearly every project we do start and end with an assist from AI? Yes. Will we use these new tools to speed and improve measurement? Yes. Will our reporting systems evolve and change? Yes...and more," he said.

Run and find out

Shaw urged his colleagues to spend time with Microsoft thought leaders and industry experts to "understand not just the 'what' of AI but the 'how' behind it."

In doing so, Microsoft's comms division can be more informed on how and where the company is using the emerging tech, how it adds value for customers and what the risks are.

"In the days ahead, you'll get more information on new tools and resources in development including training modules, workshops and AI coaching - specifically for comms professionals," Shaw added.

Even more diplomacy

AI's transformative nature, with blurred lines across tech groups, organizations and disciplines, Shaw noted, means that communicators have a responsibility to unite various business functions and help identify where there is and isn't agreement.

"We can't stop with being right, we have to chase effectiveness as well! And diplomacy helps us be effective," Shaw advised.

Rapid and responsible experimentation

Shaw pushed for Microsoft's comms unit to quickly test new AI tactics to determine how to continue reaching the right audiences. He also emphasized the importance of data.

"If we're going to expedite experimentation, we have to be able to quickly decide if we're having success," he said. "This means speed to results – not a look back at the quarter or the half, but look back at last week, at yesterday."

Microsoft's latest foray into AI comes in the form of its revitalized Bing search engine, which features an automated chatbot. The new Bing was added to the Windows 11 taskbar on Tuesday.

The tech company also launched a news and storytelling website called Source earlier this month.

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