OLD Media Moves

More on what PR people know about business journalists

April 2, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

The New York Times takes a look Monday morning at the faux pas committed by Microsoft’s outside PR firm, which accidentally sent a memo it had prepared on a reporter for Wired magazine to the reporter.

Angela Macropoulos wrote the Fred Vogelstein, the Wired contibuting editor, was “described as ‘tricky’ in interviews. ‘He looks deeply for any dirt around whatever topic he is focused on and generally is tight-lipped about the direction he will take for his stories, sometimes even misleading you to throw you off,’ the memo said. ‘It takes him a bit to get thoughts across, so try to be patient.’

“The memo also said that Microsoft’s publicity team would get a chance to vet the article (‘We should have a look at it in early March and it should run late March for the April issue’), a practice shunned by journalists. Both Wired, which is part of Condé Nast, and Waggener Edstrom say that did not happen.

“Frank Shaw, the president of Waggener Edstrom in charge of the Microsoft account, said that the person who made the blunder ‘feels awful, and there was no action. It was the kind of mistake anyone could make.’ Microsoft, he said, ‘was not upset with Waggener Edstrom for the contents of the mail.'”

Read more here.

I can remember the same thing happening to me back in 1999 or 2000. I was interviewing the CEO of an Ohio-based insurance company, and at the end of the interview, he handed me a folder with a bunch of information about the company. Inside the folder was a two-page memo to the CEO from his outside PR firm about me.

The only thing that I remember about the memo was that it compared my line of questioning to that of a sell-side analyst. At the time, I think I took that as a compliment. Today, I probably would not.

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