July 7, 2003 spout

My First Press Contact @ MS

Today I spoke with Todd Bishop, a reporter from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (“the Seattle PI). He was interested in my spout entries about my initial experiences with Microsoft, specifically the BillG ThinkWeek stuff. He called last week, but I didn’t call him back right away. Instead, I asked my grandboss (my boss was out on vacation) what I should do. I remember during NEO that MS has very clear instructions about when to talk to the press, i.e. never. Of course, some folks at MS talk with the press, but unless it’s specifically part of your job, you’re supposed to refer the press to other folks more trained in the ways of the wily reporter trying to get the dirt on MS.

So, when Todd called and I hadn’t yet made my millions on MS stock options (any day now… : ), I thought I’d ask around first before making any career limiting moves. That was early last week. It wasn’t til today that I got the approval to give the interview. In fact, I’m pretty the MS marketing guy checking on what Todd was up to had a longer conversation than I did. Here’s pretty much the entire conversation (paraphrased from imperfect human memory):

Todd: Thanks for getting back to me, Chris. I’m glad you went though official channels. That tends to make things go easier.”

I thought that was strange. If I was a reporter, I’d want to track down the defenseless MS employee when they were least expecting it. That’s what I figured Todd was up to when he called my direct MS line w/o any introductions. Luckily, I work from home in PDX. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Chris: No problem, Todd. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. They were clear my first day at MS not to talk to the press unless explicitly instructed and I’m new.”

Todd: Did you get the list of things I’m after? I’ve already written the story; I just want to check some facts.”

Oh sure, I thought. This is Todd buttering Chris like toast…

Chris: Yes. What can I tell you?”

Todd: You spell your last name S-E-L-L-S?”

Chris: Yes.”

Todd: What’s your position at Microsoft?”

Chris: detailed explanation of MSDN, DevCenters (including their need in the world) and how I’m doing the Longhorn DevCenter.

Todd: Can I just say you’re an MSDN Content Strategist?”

Chris: Sure.”

So now the reporter’s got me giving him more info than he actually wants. I’m in trouble…

Todd: And your blog is http://www.sellsbrothers.com/spout?”

Chris: long explanation about how I organize my site, how the Spout is just the editorial section and that I announce everything from all sections on my home page.

Todd: Oh. So your blog is just http://www.sellsbrothers.com. I’ll correct that. Thanks. That’s all I need.”

Chris: Really? I expected to be grilled.”

Todd: Well, you’re lucky you waited. If you’d have called last week, I’d have really hammered you.”

Aha! He’s just lulling me into a false sense of security for next time! : )

[ed: Apparently Robert Scoble took the brunt…]