Microsoft Accidentally Sends Secret File On Journalist, To That Journalist. Oops.

Wired Contributing Editor Fred Vogelstein received an interesting and inadvertantly sent email from Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener Edstrom. The contents of the email were Waggener’s internal notes on Vogelstein and how to work with him.

Vogelstein writes about this on a Wired blog, saying “as journalistic windfalls go this is about as good as it gets.” The entire file, in pdf, can be downloaded here.

I have to agree. There are thirteen pages of notes overall, single spaced. It includes recommendations on the proper handling of Vogelstein, including tidbits like:

  • “It takes him a bit to get his point across so try to be patient.”
  • “Fred’s questions went as expected with no surprises (transcript attached)”
  • “We’re pushing Fred to finish reporting and start writing”
  • “He is digging for tension where it does not exist. We have to be hard core on this point and communicate in no uncertain terms the level of executive commitment and support for Channel 9 and 10”
  • “tricky”
  • “digs for dirt”
  • “Recent articles from Wired journalists have positioned Microsoft in a somewhat skeptical light including criticism around Vista’s graphics card requirements and disadvantages of Soapbox including strict DRM”
  • “Wired also covered the “void” Robert Scoble’s departure in July 2006 left as the “face of Microsoft.””
  • “get a final gauge on where his head is at and reinforce one last time that we want to avoid any surprises with this story”

Waggener Edstrom President Frank Shaw responds here. Chris Anderson, Wired’s Editor in Chief, weighs in here.

I’m not appalled by this, and I’m not surprised by this. Waggener Edstrom is just doing what Microsoft pays them to do – deal with the press – and there is nothing wrong with keeping notes on journalists.

I have just one request, though. Since Frank Shaw says this is no big deal (my interpretation of his response post), can I have my file, too? I am interviewing Ray Ozzie at the keynote of the upcoming Mix ’07 conference, and it would be nice to have a little background on my background. I wonder if it says “don’t mention Wikipedia at any time.” :-)