I ought to start a blog that exclusively focuses on the not-so-pretty way that stories get made.
The April cover story of WIRED is "Radical Transparency," and one of the stories is a Fred Vogelstein feature on the Microsoft "Channel 9" social-media portal. The whole point of the piece -- and the issue -- is to illustrate how businesses are using more open and transparent communication practices to transform themselves.
Nothing new here -- and a lot has already been written about Channel 9 (in fact, I have been touting it as an amazing case study for more than a year). The news today was not the cover story, but a Chris Anderson (WIRED editor) blog post that points to an internal Microsoft memo prepared by the company's agency for the purpose of guiding spokespeople through the Vogelstein interviews. The dossier, as Valleywag called it, reveals how PR is really done at large companies -- coaching, prodding, framing, fixing -- despite what any new-age, transparency-talking PR pro will say.
You can imagine how the blogosphere reacted. No one got off clean -- not Microsoft, not the agency, not WIRED (Valleywag saved its harshest words for the magazine). But everyone was doing their job, and from my perspective (though jaded), no serious PR crimes were committed. And I can't help but feel that all parties will benefit in the end. Nothing wrong with a little tour of the sausage factory, every now and then. How else are we going to learn if there are any health-code violations? (I detected a few).
Smart commentary: Andy Lark.