Wired Magazine's March 2007 cover story "Get Naked and Rule the World" is an in depth story about blogging at Microsoft and the evolution of Channel 9, Microsoft's blog site for developers. The headline is a riff on Robert Scoble's book "Naked Conversations". There is a lot of buzz on this story all captured at TechMeme.
Jeff Sandquist, who manages Channel 9 and developer relations, was interviewed for the Wired story. Jeff wrote a blog today that chronicles the six month serendipitous path of the Wired story. Ya know, we consumers read these stories and think the reporter pulled it together in a day after a few phone calls. Read Jeff's blog for behind the scenes insight into the months of work required for one cover story. You gotta see this. Jeff turns the tables and interviews the Wired reporter. Exhibit A for why you should be briefed by a PR pro before doing an interview.
The Wired Magazine cover photos are from the Wired site and feature Jenna Fisher ("Pam" from The Office). There is a mylar peel off on the cover that reveals the second "naked" photo shown below. Pretty clever.
Microsoft allows employees like me to blog about any topic without any review or oversight. No PR or Legal interference and no management review of anything we write. There are over 4,000 Microsoft employees who write blogs on every imaginable topic. Microsoft trusts employees to talk to customers, partners, and the press, everyday. It is not a big leap of faith to trust employees to be smart about blogging...but few companies allow their employees to do it. Why?
Microsoft's Channel 9 was modeled after the "cockpit channel 9" on airplanes where passengers can listen in on conversations between the pilot and the Air Traffic Controllers. The idea is to give customers and developers an inside channel to what is going on inside Microsoft. The blogs and videos are interviews with real engineers and members of the product team...not PR polished marketing executives. Here is a Channel 9 interview with me about venture capital, partnering with Microsoft, and acquisitions.
The whole idea of Channel 9 and the spirit of Microsoft bloggers is to be open and transparent. Or, as Scoble likes to say...naked. Naked Conversations is a provocative title for a simple concept...open and honest dialog with employees, customers, and partners.
The downside to being open and transparent is that you sometimes get caught naked. A humorous side note to the Wired Magazine story was a screw up by one of our corporate PR people. Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's PR agency, briefs anyone who might be interviewed by a professional reporter with background on the story line, what has already been said, key messages Microsoft wants to highlight, and background on the reporter and previously published stories.
The Microsoft PR person inadvertently emailed the briefing package to the Wired Magazine reporter. The briefing package included all of the above stuff, which was completely accurate, but also included details about our PR strategy that they would rather not have the reporter see. A little embarrassing...but it is all part of being transparent...even when we don't mean to be THAT transparent.