Let’s all take a moment to reflect on the fact that a master has rejoined the game. That’s right, Microsoft is back, and back with a bang.
I have been so impressed with its recent media campaigns that I have dedicated this whole column to it rejoining the big leagues.
Since Lord Bill left, Microsoft has been a bit in the doldrums. Yes it had Ballmer, and yes he had passion (watch the video below), but it was a shadow of its former self.
2014 though, 2014 seems to be the ripsnorter of a year where Microsoft came back with a winning media strategy. In late January it announced a set of results that wowed analysts and Microsoft trolls alike. Surprisingly high sales of its Surface tablet, a big big Christmas for its Xbox console and its cloud division delivering a 107 per cent increase in sales compared to the previous year meant that people sat up and took notice. Oh yeah, and even its dull software-to-businesses sales were up, bucking the industry trend and making the likes of IBM look like Sally slow coaches. The only criticism it got from the analysts was that it had yet to announce its new CEO. Microsoft had that covered though and was pulling a bit of a PR masterstroke.
The tech geniuses could have announced their new CEO on the same day as its results. In fact, if their results had been negative, I expect they would have wheeled Satya Nadella (their new CEO)
out on that same day, it would have deflected attention away from the bad stuff. But no, Microsoft had a game plan for two bites at the media cherry and it rocked it. A few weeks after results day it announced that Satya was getting the top seat. The same guy who had been behind the 107 per cent sales increase in its Cloud division. The naysayers mentioned he was a safe choice and people outside of Microsoft knew little of him. Bah, Microsoft comms people smashed that one out of the park. Before you could say “where would you like to go today” the comms people had set up a page with all the info you would ever need to know about him. Family, career, interests, you name it, it was all there. Kudos. The story was global news, not least in India where it was a front page story given Satya hails from those parts. Just when the story was slowing a little, the PR masters tickled it along again by releasing the all-staffer email that he sent round on his first day in the job. Usually, this kind of thing would have been leaked to the media via a social media account and have the comms people on the back foot. By pushing it out themselves they had control of the story. And what about the email itself you ask? Well, it read like an internal communication manager’s wet dream. Lots of emotional and empowering words like honour and pride and even some top line vision “stuff” that no one understands but sounds awesome.
Microsoft, I salute you and the rest of you, mark my words, 2014 is the year that the company got back in the game.