Microsoft's PR agency doesn't "get" blogs

Microsoft's PR agency doesn't "get" blogs

Summary: My former boss at the Financial Times Paul Abrahams, heads up the sizeable UK office for Waggener Edstrom--Microsoft's long standing PR firm. Microsoft is WaggEd's largest client, and also it's largest cash cow, a very close relationship now well into its third decade.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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My former boss at the Financial Times Paul Abrahams, heads up the sizeable UK office for Waggener Edstrom--Microsoft's long standing PR firm. Microsoft is WaggEd's largest client, and also it's largest cash cow, a very close relationship now well into its third decade.

Paul Abrahams works very closely with Microsoft and is in Seattle on a regular basis, advising the software giant on many strategic aspects of its operations. I haven't heard from Paul in a while, so it was a delightful surprise when he called me just an hour ago.

What he wanted to tell me was that he had written a column for the UK PR Week trade publication on blogging. "I've mentioned you in it," he said. "But I've basically said,  regarding all this stuff about blogs, I just don't get it..."

Fair enough, some do, some don't. However, I asked if it was a good move on his part to advertise such a a lack of understanding of blogs?

After all, MSFT lost its top blogger Robert Scoble not too long ago, and there was much discussion about whether the software giant understood the value of Mr Scoble's incredible work in presenting the company in a favorable light.

Mr Scoble created many millions of dollars in positive publicity for Microsoft, on a salary of less than $100K. I don't think WaggEd could have done a fraction of that, for 100 times the payment Mr Scoble received.

Maybe WaggEd does understand the value of blogging and wants to shut it down before it cuts into its lucrative earnings from Microsoft?

Either way, I don't think that Paul Abrahams, head of Waggener Edstrom's large UK office, and also a senior member of its nine-strong Leadership team, should be seeking publicity from a journalist blogger (me) about how he doesn't get blogs!  And also broadcasting that fact to the entire PR industry, which is desperately trying to "get" blogs and setting up "New Media" practices by the boatload.

I guess he knows what he's doing... he is a professional PR practicioner and one of the elite in that industry.

From PR Week (Subscription required.)

Blogs: Smokey and the Bandit Part 4?
Paul Abrahams - 31 Aug 2006

Is blogging the 21st-century equivalent of citizen band radio, the personal radio technology that became so popular in the late 1970s that it was included in a Coronation Street plotline and spawned a generation of bad Burt Reynolds 'Good Ol' Boy' movies?

Please also see related:

Microsoft's top blogger Robert Scoble is leaving....
Microsoft's ROI on Robert Scoble - the disruption of PR by blogging

Topic: Microsoft

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7 comments
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  • Blogging? An abomination.

    Simple as that.
    jsaltz
    • Then why did you read this one?

      NT
      dave.leigh@...
  • Culture War

    Where do PR firms fit in?

    In Lessig's view of the world, lawyers, lobbyists and politicians are building a world of "read-only" cultural content. It's "culture that, like potato chips, is to be consumed, not created," he said. In contrast, the Internet is fostering "read-write" content that is collaboratively produced and remixed by groups of people exchanging information." Linux World 2006

    Web Logs are the manifistation of that cultural change or culture war. I believe the first Web Logs were developed by captains of yachts making passages. This was a natural extension of float plans and log books long used by sailors and the comments they responded to were from email. Some of the first blogs - like Sailnet.net were completely email based with comments being broadcasted to subscribers. When consensus was reached that would show up on a cruising log.

    Later with PHP almost every boating community was involved in some kind of Blog and sailors being salty, a lot was tolerated. But then Internet Bullies had to be contended with.

    These bullies often were paid promoters of one boat design or another and they would follow posters to hound them until the Bush administration applied telephone harrasment laws to the internet.

    Now a PR firm or law firm employee can be jailed for several years if they do not identify themselves by name when asked, which of course identifies their firm if they are paid to post.

    What I think should happen is that PR firms should be allowed to blog only when not part of a law firm. Lawyers should not blog except with other lawyers and lobby firms should not be owned by lawyers. The reason for this is obvious with Lessings comments above.

    Another development is of course distance learning. By 2000 a lot of schools had distance learning programs and hence graduates of these schools naturally started viewing the Internet as a place for learning and discussing what they learned. City University and University of Phoenix both had distance learning programs first oriented to the US military so that when enrollees left the military they would be ready for a job with civilians. Today many professionals can not work without being connected. Doctors, legals, computer professionals etc because that is how they learn to stay relevant.

    Frank L. Mighetto CCP.
    mighetto
  • Waggener Edstrom

    Tom,
    Harsh words there, big guy! C'mon down to Glass House (http://glasshouse.waggeneredstrom.com) and see that we've been talking about blogs and the changing nature of communications on my blog since 2003 (earlier, but we lost a year in a move to a new blog platform). Or check out what we've had to say about blogging here on our website (http://www.waggeneredstrom.com/what_we_do/expertise/online_communications.asp). Or maybe notice that we were a sponsor of gnomedex, or hosted blogging rooms at major trade shows. Heck, we're big believers in conversation. And, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Scoble is a friend of mine. He was a huge asset for Microsoft and its communications. Where's the threat there? Always happy to talk!
    fxshaw
    • Is the Bentsen reference denigrating?

      Lloyd Bentsen was once the Democratic party's nominee for Vice President of the US, and debated George Bush the elder's Vice President, Dan Quayle.

      Mr. Quayle made a reference to President John F. Kennedy in the debate, and Mr. Bentsen commented, "Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine, and you're no Jack Kennedy."

      The previous post observed:
      "And, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Scoble is a friend of mine. "

      The implication appears to be that the Comment's author is no Robert Scoble. Or am I understanding incorrectly?
      Anton Philidor
      • What a quote to use!

        [i]"The implication appears to be that the Comment's author is no Robert Scoble. Or am I understanding incorrectly?"[/i]

        I would have thought that somebody with a PR background would have been aware of the second part of that quote!

        I must remember not to engage W.E. for our corporate PR!

        ;-)
        bportlock
      • That's how I read it, Anton.

        What's funny to me is that -- whatever fxshaw's intent -- this fumbled response really underscores Tom Foremski's contention that "Microsoft's PR agency doesn't 'get' blogs". Gotta love the irony.
        dave.leigh@...