LONDON--Microsoft is reviewing its UK B2B PR assignment, while subsidiary Skype is also on the hunt for a new PR firm.
The B2B review is understood to be the first such exercise in a decade. Several agencies have been briefed regarding the business, including incumbent firm Bite, which assumed the six-figure brief when it merged with sibling shop Inferno in 2009.
Microsoft's B2B division, which it terms 'commercial', covers its outreach to small and large businesses, including technology products such as Office365. The company faces increasing competition from rivals such as Google Drive and Salesforce.com.
The review follows the appointment of Nicola Taylor as Microsoft UK PR head earlier this year. Taylor previous oversaw Microsoft's corporate PR activities.
"We just haven't reviewed for a long time," Taylor explained to the Holmes Report. "It felt like the right time."
"We understand and respect Microsoft’s decision to review at this time," added Bite EMEA MD Kath Pooley.
Skype PR review
The separate Skype PR review, meanwhile, is thought to involve at least three agencies, for the UK PR mandate. Much of Skype's global duties are handled by Waggener-Edstrom, while the company brought in Edelman last year for a specific entertainment project.
The Skype review follows a reshuffle in the VoIP company's communications leadership. Eric Brown was appointed as global comms head following the departure of Brian O’Shaughnessy to form a new Silicon Valley PR consultancy. In the UK, meanwhile, James Blamey shifted from Microsoft to become Skype's global head of product and technology communications.
After acquiring Skype in 2011, Microsoft recently chose the UK as the launch market for integration of the online messaging service into its Outlook email platform.
Representatives from Skype, whose comms team operates independently of Microsoft, did not respond to request for comment as this story went live.
Microsoft's PR roster
Microsoft's UK consumer PR duties are currently handled by 3 Monkeys, while Edelman oversees corporate and Xbox. Weber Shandwick leads European PR, and Waggener Edstrom serves as Microsoft's key PR partner at its global HQ in the US.
Last year, Microsoft reshuffled its European communications leadership, naming Tom Pilla as European GM.