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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Facebook, Other Tech Brands Respond to Latest NSA Surveillance Revelations

The newest bombshell headlines from The Guardian‘s slow-drip reporting on our own National Security Agency‘s data collection/surveillance practices have created some unwanted headaches for the biggest names in tech. Last week’s article revealed that the American government didn’t just gather data from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft—it also paid them millions of dollars to cover related compliance expenses.

In short, the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court) ruled in 2011 that some of the NSA’s practices were unconstitutional since the organization could not effectively distinguish foreign communications from standard domestic messages like the ones you send your co-workers and friends every day. The Obama administration declassified this information last week.

After the ruling, the agency had to adjust its way of doing things in order to remedy the problem, and those changes cost participating tech companies millions that the NSA then paid back—hence the “financial relationship” first disclosed in the Guardian piece. It’s all quite labyrinthine and infuriating, but we’re most interested in the big names’ responses.

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Roll Call: Microsoft, SKDKnickerbocker and Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Mark Penn has been promoted to executive vice president of the advertising and strategy group at Microsoft, responsible for the company’s global advertising and marketing strategy. He also oversees a multidisciplinary SWAT team that deals with a range of projects involving marketing, media and compete. His group’s goals include creating world-class advertising and messaging to consumers and business customers delivered through the most cost-effective and scientific means available. Previously, Penn was worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland.(Microsoft)

SKDKnickerbocker announced that Lindsey Green, a veteran public relations professional focused on supporting start-ups in the technology and media sectors, has joined the firm as a vice president in the New York City office .Green joins Cecelia Prewitt in expanding the firm’s technology expertise. Prewitt joined SKDK’s Washington office in February from the Federal Trade Commission, where she served as the director of public affairs and senior policy advisor for Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Green will work in SKDK’s public affairs and strategic communications practice, leading the firm’s work serving clients in the technology, start-up and media spaces. Green comes to SKDK after nearly ten years of working with start-up and media companies, most recently running her own consulting firm, Ti14th, for three years. (Release)

Hill+Knowlton Strategies announced the appointment of Drew Levinson, an experienced media and crisis strategist and former CBS News correspondent, to senior vice president in its U.S. media relations practice. Based in New York, Levinson reports to Amy Rosenberg, H+K executive vice president and U.S. director of media relations. In this role Levinson will concentrate on media strategy, executive media coaching and crisis management working across H+K practices. Levinson spent 15 years as a correspondent for CBS News covering national and international events including the World Trade Center terrorist attacks; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; multiple U.S. presidential campaigns; Hurricane Katrina; the General Motors bankruptcy; the Daimler-Chrysler merger; and the Firestone recall. (Release)

Microsoft Xbox Director Departs After Twitter Overshare

Today in No, You’re Not a Company Spokesperson news: last week some gamer blogs let their readers know that the new Microsoft Xbox, scheduled for a reveal in May, will require users to maintain “an active internet connection” at all times. Now get ready for a shocker: some people who own Xboxes do not have access to an “always on” connection — and the geeks voiced their disapproval online.

Now for the PR Fail: This outrage irritated creative director Adam Orth, who took to his personal Twitter feed to let the world know it. This message started a conversation in which Orth told the concerned parties that they were just out of luck:Orth made a couple of mistakes here: first, he commented on a story that his employer had yet to announce publicly. More importantly, he effectively told members of his own fanbase to stop complaining.

Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit, and we’ll let Brad Pitt tell you why:

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Will Microsoft’s Anti-Google ‘Scroogled’ Campaign Backfire?

In case you missed it, those dumb “Bing challenge” ads aren’t the only front in Microsoft‘s ongoing war with Google. Over the holiday season the company started the “Scroogled” campaign taking its big competitor to task for…we don’t know, failing to protect customers’ privacy or offer “unbiased search results.”

We thought Microsoft had put the series to bed earlier, but they brought it back to life this week with a couple of spots attacking the Android phone for providing Google with an unfair advantage and, again, collecting users’ private information without their knowledge or consent. It’s all a bit more complicated than that, but the message is clear: Google is evil, because Microsoft would never in a million years use customer data in underhanded ways.

This is more about branding and reputation management than technology or the business practices of tech companies. The campaign is obviously working in some way or the company wouldn’t keep pumping out these ads. But Microsoft casting itself as David to Google’s Goliath? We don’t see that message as a long-term winner. It all makes the runner-up look more than a little desperate.

Former Apple Exec Thinks the Company’s PR Strategy Is All Wrong

Over the last few weeks, we’ve posted several stories about Apple‘s newer, more aggressive PR strategy in the post-Jobs era. Not only is the tech giant focused on pushing its own products; it’s also giving its executives more leeway to take shots at rivals like Samsung as they see fit.

Jean-Louise Gassée worked for Apple throughout the 80′s as the head of its French division and later directed Macintosh product development before leaving due to strategic differences with other executives. On Sunday he posted an op-ed on the Monday Notes tech blog with the ominous headline “Apple Is Losing the War–of Words“. Gassée‘s conclusion will surprise many in the tech world, because he thinks the Apple PR team should take a few cues from Microsoft and hire an outside firm better versed in the art of “verbal warfare.”

Wait, what? Let’s explore this a little further, shall we?

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Is This The World’s First Vine Press Release?

Today we may have witnessed a first: a press release delivered via 6-second Vine mini-video. The makers of Sonar, a “social discovery app” that allows users to find others by geographical proximity (which Mediabistro profiled in this Elevator Pitch video), just received a big investment from Microsoft‘s Bing Fund–and they chose a unique way of letting the world know about it:

TechCrunch hopes this move doesn’t become a thing. What do we think? Can you imagine companies announcing new hires or clients with little clips like this one?

Meet the New Yahoo!

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer continued her overhaul of the world’s least hip content/email provider today by introducing a new look for the site:

The new features mentioned by Mayer in interviews this week include “an infinite, Twitter-like news feed” and a collection of content recommended by users’ Facebook friends. Mayer signed content deals with the three major networks, switched from Microsoft to Google for ad services and announced plans to focus more heavily on Yahoo’s original properties like Yahoo Sports, movie listings and gossip site OMG.

Will Mayer’s plan to make Yahoo relevant again succeed? We don’t plan on making the site one of our chief web destinations or using its email platform anytime soon, but we will say that she is the best thing to happen to the brand in some time.

What Are America’s 10 ‘Most Trusted’ Brands? And Why?

A few weeks ago we gave you a list of the 10 brands Americans hate most and tried to figure out why. Today we’re taking the opposite approach with the help of Harris Interactive‘s latest public opinion poll gauging the most (and least) trusted brands in the country.

Here are the brands held in highest esteem by the 19,000 random people who participated in the poll (along with our attempts to figure out how they got there):

1. Amazon: It could be the fact that Amazon remains the first and biggest online retailer with a reputation for security and an endless inventory. It could be the brand’s truly innovative recommendation system. Or it could be Amazon’s plan to create its own “virtual” currency–because no dishonest individual would ever make his own money, right?

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Can Alexander Wang Make Samsung as Fashionable as Apple?

Apple‘s latest PR push and disappointing iPhone 5 sales have led some to wonder: Is Steve Jobs‘s baby no longer the king of all things cool? Have Samsung and Microsoft somehow managed to knock the reigning tech nerds off their perch?

We wouldn’t go that far, but it’s clear that Apple’s cheaper, less fashionable competitors are upping their game. This week, for example, Samsung officially launched a Galaxy promo campaign designed to combine several untouchably cool elements: New York Fashion Week, crowdsourcing and red-hot designer/Balenciaga creative director Alexander Wang. The campaign’s first video spot, released yesterday and titled “Be Creative”, shows Wang using his Galaxy Note II to do just that:

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Apple’s PR Team Gets More Aggressive with the Message

Apple CEO Tim CookFor a long time, it seemed like Steve Jobs and the team at Apple saw traditional PR approaches and tools like press releases as ancient relics. They were over it.

Things are different now, though. The Wall Street Journal tells us that, in the light of recent stock dips and disappointing sales numbers, Apple has decided to “subtly [increase] some of its PR—at least for now.”

What does that mean? Well, the team issued an honest-to-God press release to mark the all-but-meaningless evolution of its operating system from iOS 6 to iOS 6.1–and this was “the first time Apple has issued an official press release for a non-major mobile software” roll-out since way back in 2010.

That’s not all: In addition to posting an uncharacteristically large number of press releases so far in 2013, the company has also been more active about sending positive third-party media mentions to journalists. One of the pieces circulating is a study predicting that, by 2014, Apple will be “just as accepted in the enterprise as Microsoft“. Wait, a study predicting that your company will be as much a part of the status quo as your biggest, lamest competitor?

This is not the Apple we know and love.

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