Senior sources told PRWeek the company was looking to ‘protect its business lines first’ – in response to this year’s economic upheaval.
Microsoft’s PR spend in support of citizenship is estimated at upwards of US$15m globally.
The cuts will hit hard atMicrosoft’s reputation as a committed advocate of long-term CSR policies. ‘It has invested in it for a long time,’ said an agency source involved in the process.
Across Europe and the UK, it is thought as much as a quarter of Microsoft’s citizenship PR spend is being shelved. Similar cuts have been made in Asia, while a source said pullbacks in global and US budgets were ‘imminent’.
In a statement, Microsoft UK head of PR Ali Perkins said these claims were ‘not correct’, but declined to discuss the company’s PR spend. ‘These programmes continue to be a significant investment for us globally and in the UK,’ she said.
But Microsoft account directors at key agencies said specific programmes affected by the PR cuts include the Imagine Cup student technology competition and CSR work around human trafficking. Other PR budgets under threat include the BizSpark initiative that pairs start-ups with Microsoft software, and the Unlimited Potential community technology programme. ‘These initiatives will definitely happen, but PR support will go down, and a lot of the stories are driven by PR outreach,’ said a source.
PR for Microsoft’s citizenship unit is handled by Edelman in the UK and Asia, Wag-gener-Edstrom in the US and Weber Shandwick in Europe.