Microsoft has a new CEO, Satya Nadella, and the company published a beautiful press release
announcing the news on Feb. 4.
Though a lot has been
said about the appointment, I’d like to focus on the release itself.
On the whole, the choice makes perfect sense for Microsoft: The company is entrusting itself to someone who will try to shift its direction by pushing it into areas outside its comfort zone. Convincing the world that the new CEO will reboot the company
starts by making sure the message comes across the same way.
The Microsoft PR-machine opted for a stunning, social media press release mini-site
, and it worked like a charm.
Story vs. press release
Although it is a press release, Microsoft’s webpage doesn’t feel like it. Turning a press release into a rich story isn’t easy. It forces you to tell a better story, with more context and multimedia, doing what the journalist would normally have done for you.
Microsoft played publisher by sharing the announcement on its corporate website, and in doing so it was able to control the message and directly connect with the people who were most interested in reading the news.
Old vs. new
I’m glad the PR team decided to break out of their traditional habits. Most of the time, Microsoft publishes text-only press stories. Although the brands press/media site is powered by a content management system, the overall reader experience is terrible.
Can you spot the difference?
Journalist (and Internet) friendly
The overall look and feel of the page keeps the reader in mind. The release is packed with multimedia and contains links to other sources that enrich the story, making it really easy for any journalist or blogger to easily pick it up.
Among the helpful bits for journalists were:
• an option to download all the photo and video assets in a zip file
Easy sharing and social media
• a good list of high-resolution print images
• a selection of two ready-to-print “here is what the CEO said” quotes
It would seem good deal of effort went into making sure the story would start living on the Internet. The page contains several “share me” links, and below the surface Microsoft made sure all technical requirements to optimize the sharing experience were taken care of.
Although the press release mini-webpage has some social characteristics, Microsoft could have done better. The link to the CEO’s Twitter account (which grew by 78.000 followers within 48 hours of the announcement
) was nowhere to be found. What would have happened if the release included a follow button?
Mobile is important
More than 40 percent of the people that read the story will be surfing from a mobile device. Although Microsoft is a little behind on the mobile front, it did a good job this time around:
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The story looks great on mobile devices. Microsoft used a responsive design
that adapts to the size of the screen. No need for pinching or zooming the webpage to get the details.
Room for improvement
Here are ways the nicely done release could have been even better:
• The mini-site with the story looks good, but as soon as I click on a link, I am transferred to an enterprise site that looks terrible. Microsoft should do something about that.
Gijs Nelissen is co-founder at Prezly, a service that helps with publishing social and mobile friendly press releases. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn. A version of this story originally appeared on the company's blog.
• We don’t need to slog through a full, 20-paragraph bio to get the picture. Collapse or hide the full detail until someone asks for it.
• Satya Nadella is Indian. This story is big news in India. So why isn’t there a translated version available on the site?
• Mobile sharing could be better. Services such as AddThis can facilitate that.