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Could 18,000 Layoffs Be a #PRWin for Microsoft?

New-Microsoft-Logo-PPT-BackgroundsIf your stock portfolio contains Microsoft, today is a good day. If you happen to work for Microsoft, then it probably isn’t.

In case you’ve been living underneath a rock, the company announced this morning that it would eliminate up to 18,000 jobs, canning 14% of its workforce.

That’s a big deal on its own, but it isn’t the only story making headlines.

In fact, investors seem quite happy with the news.

New York magazine’s headline reads: “Microsoft Just Laid Off Thousands of Employees With a Hilariously Bad Memo“. Why was it so bad? Here’s a snippet:

“Hello There,

Microsoft’s strategy is focused on productivity and our desire to help people ‘do more.’ As the Microsoft Devices Group, our role is to light up this strategy for people.

The roots of this company and our future are in productivity and helping people get things done…we have had an opportunity to plan carefully about the alignment of phones within Microsoft as the transferring Nokia team continues with its integration process.”

The point, please?!?!

“Our device strategy must reflect Microsoft’s strategy and must be accomplished within an appropriate financial envelope. Therefore, we plan to make some changes…We expect these changes to have an impact to our team structure.”

Almost there…

“We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 factory direct and professional employees over the next year. These decisions are difficult for the team, and we plan to support departing team members’ with severance benefits.”

That’s the eleventh paragraph! It’s the most long-winded way to say “Dear 18,000 employees: you’re fired”. Not very efficient in the internal communications department, are they?

From other outlets, however, we see a different spin: “Microsoft stock rises on talk of layoffs“, “Microsoft Stock Up on Job Cut News – and Headed for More Gains“, etc.

And from Wired.com, we get the best spin of all: “Why Cutting 18,000 Jobs Was Likely Microsoft’s Plan All Along.”

‘Tough as the decision may have been, it might truly be the best thing for the company in the long term.”

The pull quote alone is enough to make any publicist smile. And the move looks like a win for investor relations as well.

Which angle says more about the company’s publicity efforts: the big layoff total or the stock bump? Does one cancel out the other, or does the bottom line make it a win overall?

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