Microsoft is cutting its European PR budget for corporate social responsibility activities, instead applying funds to promoting products like Windows 7, Office and Xbox, reports PRWeek.
PRWeek reports that similar cuts are in the works in Asia and that they are “imminent” in the United States.
Through a spokesperson, Microsoft released a comment to Environmental Leader. “The economic downturn has obviously meant that every company is taking a hard look at their spending, but Microsoft remains committed to our citizenship and corporate social responsibility efforts,” the spokesperson said. “Given the current economic climate, we are working harder than ever to understand the needs and priorities of governments in the countries where we operate, and to use our resources and expertise to help address those needs.”
The spokesperson said Microsoft would continue to invest in its Unlimited Potential programs.
PRWeek, quoting Microsoft account directors at PR agencies, said the CSR PR cuts include the Imagine Cup student technology competition and communications efforts about human trafficking. Additionally, a BizSpark initiative that couples business start-ups with Microsoft software is under pressure, along with the Unlimited Potential community technology program. Sources said not all programs would be cut entirely, but that spending and emphasis was going down.
In responding to the economic downturn, Microsoft is looking to”protect its business lines first,” according to PRWeek.
It’s estimated that Microsoft spends up to $15 million annually on PR support for its CSR efforts, according to the article.
Microsoft has long been a public proponent of CSR efforts. Here is the company’s mini-site on CSR.
The company recently has put great emphasis into green marketing for IT, including the slogan “Green is the new black,” which was featured prominently on the firm’s home page during Earth Week.
The article estimated that Microsoft was cutting European CSR promotions by 25 percent. It’s unclear what portion of those cuts may involve PR about environmental stewardship.
In the U.S., Waggener-Edstrom handles PR for Microsoft’s CSR efforts. Edelman has Microsoft’s UK and Asia PR accounts. Weber Shandwick handles the rest of Europe, according to PRWeek.
A 2008 survey showed that 80 percent of the Fortune 50 companies publicly reported their CSR and environmental stewardship efforts online.
A more recent survey showed that nearly 60 percent of corporate marketers expect their companies to increase environmental sustainability initiatives over the next two to three years, despite the poor economy.