The Long Tail: The Microsoft Memo: Some choose radical transparency, some have it thrust upon them
A good buddy and former journalism colleague called and said, “Dude, check out TechMeme, and look at the b.s. being slung about the Microsoft memo.”
Here’s the elevator summary: Chris Anderson, Wired’s editor, blogs about how Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener-Edstrom “inadvertently” sent an internal memo discussing how Wired’s reporter, one Fred Vogelstein, was working a story; in fact the current cover story on the new trend towards corporate transparency.
Two points and then I’ll shut up.
1. PR firms are paid to profile reporters, anticipate their questions, know their biases, and study them like E.O. Wilson studies ants. The “oh my” reaction to this practice is complete naivety. This isn’t J. Edgar Microsoft.
2. Coincidence that the company that now personifies corporate transparency because of the ground broken with its corporate blog policy, Channel 9, and the ineffable Mr. Scoble, would happen to be the one “inadvertently” releasing an internal PR memo on that same story? I think not. Look at the buzzfest and I have to send a huge attaboy to whoever came up with the move … I salute you.
Here’s what Mr. Anderson wrote:
“…Yet the old company culture is not gone, as evidenced by an executive briefing memo from Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, that Vogelstein was inadvertently sent in the body of a scheduling email. At nearly 6,000 words, it’s an amazing document and a telling counterpoint to the laissez-faire spirit of the open blogging initiative. Because it so aptly illustrates the parallel open vs. closed cultures that now exist at Microsoft, as in any big company trying to evolve a command-and-control messaging process to an out-of-control age, we decided to post the whole thing online in the spirit of transparency.
The memo coaches the executives on what to say and what not to say. It talks about Vogelstein’s interviewing style and possible biases (also how he’s “tricky” and “digs for dirt”–the memo cautions the executives to avoid certain paths and to watch out for traps). Here’s an example (emphasis in the original):
“”He is digging for tension where it does not exist. We have to be hard core on this point and communicate in no uncertain terms the level of executive commitment and support for Channel 9 and 10 [Microsoft's videoblogging efforts]“”
On a personal note, it’s kind of freaky to read the memo describe how I was wooed (even manipulated, if you want to think of it that way) into commissioning the piece”
On another note, Fake Steve Jobs is demanding outraged nerds flock to their local newsstand and buy up all the copies of this issue to protest the placement of a nekkid lady on the cover.