Tag: PR

Microsoft wins PR blitz over cloud

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeMicrosoft’s several-hour outage of the cloud-based Visual Studio Online services might have been a PR disaster, but Redmond appears to have won the hearts and minds of its customers by actually doing the right thing.

Computer World spend the day ringing around hoping to find a “moaning customers” story but was surprised to find hat Microsoft’s customers were happy at the way that the outage was handled.

Apparently Redmond did something radical – it did not spin, it did not pretend that nothing happened, and it provided customers with the information they really needed.

The genius behind this strategy was, Brian Harry, a Microsoft Technical Fellow, corporate vice president, and product unit manager for Team Foundation Server.

Writing in his bog, Harry said detailed the August 14 outage of Visual Studio Online, the cloud service designed to help development teams manage complex projects.

Visual Studio Online was offline in some regions late Wednesday and early Thursdaybut troubles mounted Thursday morning until they became a total outage that lasted five-and-a-half hours.

“This duration and severity makes this one of the worst incidents we’ve ever had on VS Online,” Harry admitted.

Harry apologised for the outage dove into a technical explanation of what triggered the blackout, and laid out some steps the team planned to take to stymie a repeat.

“We’ve gotten sloppy. Sloppy is probably too harsh. As with any team, we are pulled in the tension between eating our Wheaties and adding capabilities that customers are asking for,” said Harry. “In the drive toward rapid cadence, value every sprint, etc., we’ve allowed some of the engineering rigor that we had put in place back then to atrophy — or more precisely, not carried it forward to new code that we’ve been writing. This, I believe, is the root cause.”

Customers loved this approach and in the comments they praised his candour. “Let me simply say: nice analysis write-up, that was refreshingly direct,” said Benjamin Treynor in a comment appended to Harry’s piece.

“A perfect template for no BS straight talking. Well done, very impressed,” added someone identified only as “Craig” in a latter comment. “Lots of good lessons in there, too, that we can all benefit and learn from.”

Harry’s admission that Microsoft’s push for a faster pace was behind the outage might have won him the support of customers, but it does not bode well for his internal political future. Microsoft is on a mission to accelerate development and its release “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy.

Still there cannot be many in Microsoft who can see their product fail and still get their customers to support them. At this rate, Harry should be made PR manager.


Social media rants bad for businesses

visa-epayNot that long ago dissatisfied customers used to ring up companies or show up at their door. Neither option was something businesses looked forward to, but they had to deal with it anyway. Then the social networking revolution came about and for a while it seemed like the internet would help improve customer service and lessen the hassle at the same time.

It did, but it also created another problem. People don’t tend to call customer service anymore, they just head to Facebook and start posting bile ridden posts about companies.

Dr. Donald Patrick Lim, chief digital officer of ABS-CBN and managing director of McCann’s digital arm, said companies must converge technology, performance and creativity, but they also need to address the social media threat, reports SunStar.

“Consumers today are very wired. They don’t call. They just go on Facebook and rant there,” said Lim.

As more and more people get tech savvy and dependent on social media for information, the rants can have a very disruptive effect and shouldn’t be ignored.

Many companies now offer online message boards and real time support, which is very convenient indeed. However it also poses a risk, as every unsatisfactory, inappropriate or downright daft chat from support staff can end up on social media in a matter of seconds, thanks to ye olde clipboard.

Domino’s wants to drone you a pizza

dominos-minuteman-siloDrones don’t exactly have a good reputation nowadays, as most people associate them with flying killer robots raining death from above on militants and anyone who happens to get in the way. However, they can be fun, they can be used to save lives or in this case alleviate hunger.

Domino’s Pizza is testing a pizza delivery drone, but we’re not sold on the concept, which basically looks like an elaborate PR stunt. The DomiCopter is a project cooked up by T+Biscuits and designed by UK based drone specialist AeroSight. Although it doesn’t pack Hellfire missiles, it can deliver a pizza to anywhere in a four mile radius in under 10 minutes, faster than a bloke on a scooter.

Of course, this is just a stunt and we won’t see a fleet of drones carrying around pizzas, curries and kebabs anytime soon. It probably costs a pretty penny, the range is limited and we’re not sure about efficiency, either. It also needs a human operator and trained drone operators tend to get paid a bit more than delivery boys.

A couple of decades ago Domino’s used to guarantee pizza delivery in 30 minutes or less. Eventually it dropped the promise for whatever reason, but not before it was borrowed by  Minuteman missile crews who came up with an iconic and rather morbid Cold War joke.

Although we are suckers for PR stunts, we believe Domino’s would be better off investing the time and effort into making better tasting pizzas.

EE pledges jobs, sustainability

eeCarrier EE has published its first Responsibility Report, and we’re sure the PR cogs were working overtime to get it word perfect.

Within its musings, the company claims it has identified twelve areas that need improving, including reducing its environmental impact, keeping children safe and building further sustainability in its supply chain.

It also promised that by 2015 it will improve the digital skills of 1 million people, as well as recruit 500 apprentices into its business

The company has said it will be launching an EE graduate scheme and has committed to
supporting Plotr, the government-supported careers portal which is set to launch this year.

EE said its HR team will begin an initiative in schools, supporting 10 week-long work experience placements at its Bristol office for students from local secondary schools.

The pledges come as a new survey found that a quarter of Brits can’t be bothered to report broadband issues. According to comparison website Recombu.com/digital, of the 1447 people it asked  74 percent blamed slow internet issues on ‘heavy traffic’ and fail to report slow connectivity to their internet service provider.

Just over a third said they only reported a problem when ‘connectivity stopped entirely’, while 11 percent stated that they ‘never’ reported issues.