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Microsoft PR Exec to Google PR Exec: 'Bing it on!'
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Microsoft and Google have many sobriquets — Icons of the Industry, Tech Titans, Behemoths of the Broadband and... okay, I made those up, but they are a pretty big deal. So, when the two PR tweeps of said brands face off on Twitter, suffice to say it's a big deal. And that's what happened, according to the Business Insider 

Meet Frank X. Shaw, as taken from his Twitter bio, who is "currently lead corporate communications for Microsoft." In a moment of Twitter rage (is that a thing?), Shaw targeted his malevolent dexterity after Jill Hazelbaker, a senior Googler in PR. The spat was largely one-sided. Shaw took to Twitter with the fury of millions of Kardashian followers who retweet some stroke of pretentious genius like, "Um, I'm so loving my vacay in Fiji. Then again, had to fly coach. #firstworldproblems". 

The Herculean rumpus began a few weeks back when the New York Times did an article on former Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn taking a gig at Microsoft as its head of "strategic and special projects." (Full disclosure, I am a proud — as they say in the biz — former 'Burson Person' and worked under the leadership of Mr. Penn. Oh, fuller disclosure. I have only seen the man once. He was standing across a large banquet room...with his fly down. So there's that.) Penn, also one of the former major domos behind Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign, is now the mastermind behind the recent 'Scroogled' campaign, which essentially goes as follows:

In the beginning, Google preached, “Don’t be evil”—but that changed on May 31, 2012. That’s when Google Shopping announced a new initiative. Simply put, all of their shopping results are now paid ads. In their under-the-radar announcement, Google admits they’ve now built “a purely commercial model” that delivers listings ranked by “bid price.” Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results. They call these “Product Listing Ads” a “truly great search.” We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled. For an honest search result, try Bing.

Back to the story, in which, Hazelbaker said that Google also spends money on lobbying, but that it is different than Microsoft because “our focus is on Google and the positive impact our industry has on society, not the competition.” To wit, the man whose middle name has to be Xavier (or Xylophone) blasts Hazelbaker all over Twitter. Here are some of his hits: 
  1. So, @jillhazelbaker how about a little light? So far this year, Google has outspent Microsoft by a factor 2.3 to 1 lobbying.
  2. @jillhazelbaker says Google not focused on competitors. She better let @ericschmidt know so he stops blaming us for all their problems.
  3. Turns out if you shine a light on Google like we did via Scroogled, Gmail man, putting privacy first, they run for the shadows.
  4. Want to talk about privacy? Name the time and place. And don’t sent the NYT next time. Or BusinessWeek. Use your own voice
To date, neither Jill nor Google has responded to his concocted brouhaha. And why should they? Microsoft is known for its software and little else. Google is known for owning the Internet. As an astute college professor of communications once told me, "SPW, it takes two people to have a conversation, but only one to make an ass out of himself in that conversation." Duly noted. Of course, Jill is no purile princess either. Google's focus is "the positive impact our industry has on society." Right, and by which you mean "global takeover to the tone by which Big Brother hasn't even considered."

While Shaw may be correct about Google, and Penn may be onto something with these whole "Scroogled" shenanigans, I don't think this was the best way of doing it. Or was it? We are all talking about it. We are all writing about it. And Frank Shaw's name is even trending at the time of penning this article. (See what I did there?) Sure, there are other alleged "evil empires" in this world (e.g., Walmart, The Yankees, Walmart, Any gas company, and Walmart) but how do they respond to these allegations? About the same way Jill did...by not responding at all. Is this crisis communications 101 or just allowing the other person in the argument making an ass out of himself? You be the judge. 

That said, I know one thing: If Shaw was asked to do this, then job well done. However, if he was not, then that Twitter bio may need to be changed. You know, currently and all. 


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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