For some time, I’ve subscribed to Microsoft executive emails, the ones that periodically come out under either Bill Gates’ or, more usually, Steve Ballmer’s name.
These emails address topical technology-in-business issues, and discuss how they relate to Microsoft’s products and services, obviously with a clear and strong Microsoft view. While some people cynically view these missives as pure PR and marketing spin, I’ve always found them useful and interesting.
The latest such email from Steve Ballmer, which arrived in my inbox yesterday, is no different. It’s a lengthy discussion comparing Windows with Linux and Unix, and asks questions such as does an open source platform really provide a long-term cost advantage compared with Windows, and which platform offers the most secure computing environment. Other questions, too, and links to various case studies.
I’m not going to talk about the content of this executive email. Rather, I want to suggest how such information could develop into real and dynamic discussion topics with the receiving audience if they formed part of a Microsoft executive blog, not static emails and also simply published on a normal website.
Indeed, a blog is precisely a perfect medium for using such content to develop conversations. The emails are written in such a way that they would stimulate a reaction and a desire to give instant comment and feedback (well, they do with me, at any rate). And they’d need little re-purposing to fit the characteristics of a blog, mostly content length.
These emails represent purely a one-way communication channel – there’s no means to provide some commentary or reaction: no link to click on, no way to reciprocate in the communication. You could hit ‘reply’ and email some comments (you have think, though: it says it’s from Steve Ballmer but is it really the PR or marketing folks?) but that certainly wouldn’t develop the kinds of dynamic conversations that would happen in a blog. While the latest email does have a Microsoft named individual’s email address in the text (no way to tell, though, who the person is in the sense of where does he sit in the organization), that’s someone to contact if you want to discuss your specific IT needs, not to comment on the issues raised in the email.
These emails are business focused and address often technically-complex topics in a way that the average reasonably tech-literate business person can understand and grasp the issues being discussed. What a great opportunity to take this biz-tech focus and evolve it into a way to get closer to a key business audience.
Perhaps the goal of such executive emails really is just static one-way and they are intended to serve only a traditional marketing need. If that’s so, what a wasted opportunity!
Incidentally, I replied to the email saying substantially what I’m commenting on here in this post. I’m looking forward to seeing who I actually get a response from.