Microsoft analyst relations (AR) has begun to use a format it is calling the fireside chat, in which a senior executive talks without PowerPoint to a select group of analysts. Bob Muglia met us earlier this year and his frankness was utterly disarming. Executives at other firms have used the intimate discussion to great effect recently-notably Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP with the Enterprise Irregulars. Steve Mills, General Manager of IBM Software, is far better when he eschews slides, though he is usually working a big room of analysts. It seems Charles Philips of Oracle also just met the Irregulars on a similar basis.
Could it be that briefing without PowerPoint makes us more honest, as well as more engaging? Or perhaps its just that the execs I have recently met under the format are confident enough to be really frank.
PowerPoint can be a crutch, so is it any wonder traditional outbound marketing is often limp?
Another important aspect of the fireside chat is that representatives of more than one firm are involved. It was great to have Phil Dawson of Gartner Group joining the conversation so constructively in Barcelona this week. He is a bright and engaging guy and adds a lot to the dialogue. In an age of conversational marketing the notion of a fireside chat makes perfect sense.
Microsoft and the Trust Base
Trust enables the fireside chat format, and vice-versa. Microsoft is keen to strike up a less confrontational, more trust-based dialogue with industry analysts.
Four different Microsoft people said so this week:
- Bob Kelly, corporate VP and seriously heavy hitter in the Servers and Tools Business.
- Ed Anderson, who runs AR for SBT, who has the rather unusual background of previously working at Novell on Linux and open source.
- Robb Mapp, who used to work at Microsoft’s PR agency Waggener Edstrom, but proved himself with domain knowledge and nous to join the corporate team.
- Naomi Higgins, who runs AR for Microsoft in Europe, and did a great job hosting us in Barcelona.
All four want AR to be less like a game of tennis. All four believe that AR is about conversation not confrontation.
As Robb puts it:
As you can imagine, some days my role is lobbyist and other days it’s evangelist but the coolest aspect of this gig is helping facilitate conversations between Microsoft’s leaders and the analyst community
picture of musician by the fire courtesy of dioboss. Thanks!