An unpublished review of Microsoft's press center
Ever since I have been training people in Internet PR, the very very short version of the course has been “check out Microsoft.com”. Microsoft not only has the best News Room on the web, but the margin over the competition keeps getting bigger.
The news room is easy to find: there is a link “For journalists” on the front page. The layout is attractive and functional; the “top stories” are updated regularly. The “of note” section is genuinely noteworthy, consisting of articles about Microsoft, including, of course, comment columns by Bill Gates. The Seattle Post Intelligencer – the corporation’s local paper – is singled for special attention, implying that senior executives understand the role of media relations in bolstering community relations, internal comms and even investor relations. Some three quarters of Microsoft’s US-based staff live in the Seattle area, as do a large proportion of the individual shareholders.
There is a mass of corporate information on the site, including biographies and downloadable pictures of the Board of Directors and the senior executives. Until fairly recently, the pictures were in order of seniority, beginning with multiple pics of Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer. Today, Ballmer is about a third of the way down the A-D page and the even more high profile Chairman is about halfway down E-H. It seems the corporation is stressing its strength in depth to avoid being seen as Gates Inc.
Probably the single most useful feature is “Essays on Technology”. The essays date back to 1999 and provide a huge range of material for IT or business journalists. Frankly, anyone with a commitment to produce a weekly column stuck for something to write can scan through this resource and be sure to find something that sparks a thought.
The News Room and front page both have a direct link to the equally extensive Microsoft Investor Relations (http://www.microsoft.com/msft/default.mspx). The financial history, SEC filings, and a very extensive page devoted to stock info and analysis are clearly set out in an easy to use format.
The UK website (http://www.microsoft.com/uk/press/) is, plainly, less extensive but still compares favourably with most organisations. In other markets, coverage is variable. There is an enormous site to cover Latin America (much of it the corporate news room translated into Spanish), but the “pressroom” link for Microsoft Egypt is dead.
It is difficult to fault the company which continues to set the standards to which others aspire.