On Steve Ballmer’s “Transforming Our Company” Memo as a Public Relations Document

Much has been written about the “One” Press Release published by Microsoft® on Thursday, July 11, 2013. But we think the accompanying memo, “Transforming Our Company” is an equally important piece of public relations collateral for markets to digest.

The memo is written for internal publication, but a link to it is provided in the press release as posted to Microsoft’s public website. So the Public Relations team at Microsoft clearly planned this piece of content to be read by the general public.

This piece reinforces cornerstones of Microsoft’s product brands, and paints them with a picture of a company intensely focused on transformation. Simply consider the following statement, which we have excerpted from the memo: “We will strive for a single experience for everything in a person’s life that matters. One experience, one company, one set of learnings, one set of apps, and one personal library of entertainment, photos and information everywhere. One store for everything.” This statement provides little indication of a transformed Microsoft. Since the mid 1980s Microsoft has espoused the importance of personal computing. Further, Microsoft has always embraced a scalable architecture for its software products. The design principles of Windows 8 for PCs, Windows 8 for smartphones, and Windows 8 for tablets are clearly rooted in a commitment to a consistent, cross platform user experience.

But what is new about the statement we’ve quoted and the rest of the memo is a tone of urgency, The memo is written very much in the style of a “declaration”, meaning a position statement formalizing a new direction for the company, which includes scant opportunity, if any at all, to turn back.

Early stage technology businesses can benefit from a close study of this type of public relations content. In the two stock trading days since the press release and memo were published, the value of Microsoft shares outstanding has increased by more than 5%. Not bad for a couple of pieces of public relations collateral.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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