September 11, 1996 9:15 PM PDT

Huge companies need as much PR

Like an 800-pound gorilla that's still growing, Microsoft (MSFT) is outpacing the expansion capacity of its long-time public relations firm, and will turn to Miller Shandwick Technologies to handle publicity for its consumer-oriented division.

Lest anyone think Microsoft is dumping Waggener Edstrom, which has been Microsoft's PR firm for nearly 13 years and is nearly synonymous with Microsoft, company sources point out that Waggener Edstrom helped evaluate pitches from more than 10 agencies seeking the account.

Microsoft spokesman Marty Taucher would neither confirm nor deny this report but said an announcement is due later this month. A spokesperson for Miller/Shandwick could not be reached.

Miller Shandwick will handle PR for consumer CD-ROM titles including its Encarta multimedia encyclopedia, Microsoft Network, online political magazine Slate, and its planned CityScape chain of regional online magazines, sources said.

Miller Communications is part of Shandwick International, an international public relations firm that also owns Hollywood-oriented Rogers and Cowan in Los Angeles and Golin Harris Communications, which has a strong technology focus.

Miller reportedly will open a Seattle-area office by November and will work with Waggener Edstrom over a transition period of about three months. Waggener will continue to represent Microsoft's other businesses and will play a coordinating role between consumer publicity and corporate information.

Among the four finalists for Microsoft's consumer work was Edelman Communications, which has done PR on a project basis for some Microsoft consumer products.


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