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Oct 27, 2010

Microsoft stops using newswire to distribute earnings

Move is an about-face following comments by head of IR earlier this year

Microsoft has announced it will no longer use a newswire to distribute its quarterly financial results, starting with its first quarter results out on Thursday.

In a press release, the software giant says it will now issue a media advisory pointing investors to the full earnings release on its IR website.

Microsoft’s decision follows similar moves by companies such as Google, BGC Partners, Expedia and Marathon Oil Corporation.

Microsoft feels this is the right time to change because it recently launched a new IR website and wants to encourage people to use it more, according to a well-placed source.

This view is backed up in Microsoft’s press release, which states it wants the IR website to be the ‘authoritative portal’ for investors, analysts and journalists looking for financial information.

The move marks something of an about-face for Microsoft. During a webinar this April, Bill Koefoed, general manager of investor relations at Microsoft, said he favored the push approach offered by the newswires.

‘We believe the approach we are taking today is the most shareholder-friendly, and want to try to get our outreach to as many people as we possibly can,’ he said at the time.

The ability of companies to push out information through really simple syndication (RSS) feeds and email alerts may have helped convince Microsoft it didn’t need to use a newswire any longer, however.

This is suggested in Microsoft’s press release, which states that its IR website offers ‘opportunities to sign up for email alerts and RSS feeds to have information, including quarterly earnings announcements, pushed in real time.’

Microsoft’s press release notes it has not ruled out using a newswire to distribute other financial news in the future.

UpdateMarketwire has responded to Microsoft’s decision. Paolina Milana, executive vice president of marketing, media and editorial operations at Marketwire, says in an email:

‘Companies that favor the use of corporate websites to house and publish relevant material do benefit in the way of branding and search engine optimization, but choosing this as the only means of communication is an ineffective way of engaging audiences, and introduces missed opportunities to do so.

‘The smartest strategies are multi-pronged. Always. I would hate to be the communications professional who posts details about something important and/or legally mandated only to my website and ‘trust’ that my intended targets will find it.

‘In addition, having been a journalist, I’m not too certain that, under tight deadlines and with multiple priorities, I’d want to have to hunt around on a corporate website and trust I’m able to access [information] in a manner that helps me do my job as a reporter and analyst.’