Friday, September 5, 2008

A Public Relations Plan for Microsoft

Microsoft must respond to the open source movement, both the formal initiative and the growing number of adherents in the corporate and government worlds. Open Source Software is the most serious threat to current and future Microsoft revenues and is the theme for this proposed public relations campaign. Open Source Linux and Apache are taking leadership positions in computer centers. What is more worrisome is that Linux may become the operating system of choice in corporate client devices in the near future. If certain publics become strategic buyers of Linux, it is probable that Windows will be driven from the market. This is the conclusion of Casadesus-Masanell and Ghemawat (2005, p 3), two Harvard Business School professors.

Microsoft must establish effective communication channels with key publics to exchange understandings about Windows and Open Source. It must make sure, in honest discussion, that those publics are aware of the capability of both Windows and Open Source to fulfill needs and interests. If Microsoft does not do this, misconceptions or mistrust may influence decisions that result in the disastrous scenario of that Harvard study.

The main barrier to Microsoft for effectively communicating messages about open source, and managing the growing crisis is the lack of integration across the different public relations firms and 5,000 bloggers. Additionally, it is not apparent that Microsoft has organized its thinking about open source according to integrated marketing communication principles. The result is isolated messages about open source that are not targeted to specific publics. The isolated message do not use a strategy and tactics appropriate for each public. Wilson and Ogden (2004, p 138) say that targeting specific publics, and using a strategy and tactics appropriate for each public is the hallmark of strategic public relations planning.

Here is a link to the proposed PR plan: Microsoft Public Relations Plan

Casadesus-Masanell, R. and P. Ghemawat (June 6, 2005). Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win? Retrieved on March 31, 2008 from

Wilson, Laurie and Ogden, Joseph (2004). Strategic Communications Planning, 4th Ed. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

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