Microsoft is in the news again. This time, however, the software giant is involved in a rather embarrassing email slip-up, which revealed the tactics used by Microsoft’s PR machine to generate favorable media coverage. Fred Vogelstein, a contributor for ‘Wired’ magazine received a file that Microsoft and its outside public relations agency, Waggener Edstrom keeps on him.
IT companies and their various agents generally keep files on different reporters, so that they can brief managers on the various hacking techniques before they are put out in the open.
The 5500-word memo contained detailed notes on how Microsoft should mamage a story that Vogelstein was writing on the software giant, including details on his interviewing style and possible biases.
Something really ironical about the situation was that the story that Vogelstein was working on revolved around Microsoft’s recent attempts to change the perception that it is an overly secretive company.
One of the comments reads as, “It takes him (Vogelstein) a bit to get his point across, so try and be patient,” while another says, “Get a final gauge on where his head is at and reinforce one last time that we want to avoid any surprises with this story.”
Vogelstein described the receipt of this file saying, “As journalistic windfalls go, this is about as good as it gets.”
“There I was writing a story about how Microsoft is on the cutting edge of using the Internet to become more transparent, and there in front of me are the briefing documents they are using to manage the story,” he added.
However, even with the document in hand, Vogelstein had mixed feelings about it. “It also was strange to see just how many resources are aligned against me when I write a story about Microsoft,” he wrote in a blog posting on Tuesday.
About a dozen people in all were involved in the effort to spin the story, and Vogelstein said at least three times previous to him taking on the story Microsoft had sent people to the magazine to pitch the story.
Most peculiar about the entire incident was Waggner Edstrom’s response, which came in the form of a blog post by the firm’s president Frank Shaw.
Although he does not say it directly, Shaw indicates he was not happy with the way the story turned out. He also seems to take issue with Vogelstein’s interviewing tactics.
“I have my POV of course, and those who live close enough to me to offer me a pint of beer might get it out of me,” he wrote on Tuesday. “But the story is out, like any piece of work there are things to agree with and not, and we’ll leave it at that.”