TABLOID: Microsoft releases BM

The Australian subsidiary of software giant Microsoft has poured cold water over its long-standing relationship with public relations flackery Burson-Marstellar, appointing rising PR juggernaut Text100 as its new agency.

The move, only finalised late last week, sees Text100 assume the reigns for Microsoft's strategic customer unit and product campaigns.

The incumbent agency, disparagingly referred to in the industry as Bursting Marshmallows, is left to eat humble pie with meagre pickings as the agency responsible only for MS' multimedia products, such as games.

Speculation is flooding the IT industry about the reasons behind the overhaul of its most financially lucrative PR account.

Ava Lawler, Text100's managing director, refused to fuel the speculation, but did not wish to pass up on the opportunity for some publicity. In a prepared statement exclusive to Tabloid, she claimed "the win was secured by the combination of local talent and Text100's existing work with Microsoft in the UK, South Africa, Germany, India, Ireland and Singapore.

"We are really proud of the opportunity and it's a sign of our success in Australia," Lawler gibbered to Tabloid.

The Microsoft win adds to a string of successes for the company. It has recently snaffled two other high-profile IT accounts, Apple and Getronics, formerly known as Wang.

Lawler reported that Text100, which started off 18 months ago, has achieved 200 per cent growth in the last year.

Meanwhile, sources close to the newcomer report Microsoft's renowned communications manager, Helen Baric, has already made herself a casual home in the North Sydney-based company's boardroom.

Baric, who would only say the decision was a local one, likes to make sure she maintains very close lines of communications with her PR consultancies.

Can you get that Basil?

By Sandy Cremorne

"If you thought the way the Yanks treated us over lamb tariffs was bad, wait till you hear about this!" says PC Help managing director Steve Goulding.

It appears that US-based hotel management software vendor RDP may have to go back to customer relations school . . . perhaps the school from which Basil Fawlty graduated.

PC-Help, a Perth system integration and IT consulting house, has been trying to facilitate an upgrade to their client's RDP software . . . and well, here is the sorry tale.

On June 22, PC-Help e-mailed RDP a list of six questions about the upgrade of their client's software. The rest is now a matter of historical (hysterical?) record:

1. "Will be out of the office for a week, will get back to us then."

2. One week later they reply with same information off the web-site, and one of the six questions answered.

3. We send another e-mail requesting clarification of the one answer, and the answers to the other questions.

4. No response for a week, so we e-mail again.

5. A response claiming their e-mail with answers keeps getting bounced . . . "Please reply if we get this -mail. This e-mail doesn't have any answers attached."

6. We reply that we got the e-mail OK, but there were no answers. Could they include the answers in any future e-mails, and if it bounces, keep trying.

7. Their reply blames our technology for causing the e-mail bounces, and doesn't contain any answers.

8. Our client e-mails RDP complaining about not getting any answers.

9. Reply from RDP (contact spits the dummy) refers us on to the president. Still no answers!

10. We e-mail the president, restating position.

11. He replies saying that their earlier e-mails had bounced (we have already been told this), and if we get this e-mail to respond to him, and he will reply. STILL NO ANSWERS!

12. We reply *tersely* asking same questions, and asking him bluntly why he or any of his company's previous replies simply attach the answers to every e-mail. I even outline how to attach a file to the reply (in case they don't know!). STILL NO ANSWERS!

13. (After two days) prez replies. "We want nothing to do with you. No one in RDP will reply to any request you make, via e-mail, voice mail, snail mail, or any other form. Take care."


Goulding said he has the full unedited sequence of e-mails, and would be happy to share them with Tabloid readers!

Blue light humour

Some advice for late night commuters seen on a Sydney train recently, a sign that some wag has edited to read: "At night, travel near the guards compartment naked with a blue light."

Some PR for Piar

The publisher of a certain weekly IT title decided to take the staff out to lunch recently (an excellent concept, by the way). Eventually, and somewhere after 3.00pm, the hardworking and hungry crew landed on the steps of its favourite Indian noshery, Piar in Sydney's Crows Nest.

Just when they would have been sending their day staff off, charming hosts Piara and Bal Kamal graciously fed the not so timid bunch . . . and when the boss is paying, doesn't everything taste so much better?


Targeting the low end. Aspiring channel champion Kyocera has appointed Pauline Gleeson as channel sales manager for New South Wales. Keen to publicise its dramatic rise in the printer vendor rankings, among the 53 per cent growth, the TCO, the environment and the IDC position, Kyocera's statement mentioned that Gleeson had come fresh from the role of distribution manager in sales at Sirius. According to the statement, her role is to increase penetration into the growing low end.

No Q for Gattari. And the last word of the week goes to one of Tabloid's favourite column fillers, Tony Gattari, who now flatly DENIES he is soon to join the enemy with the big Q as it sets up a chain of its own retail outlets. Following last week's story in which Tabloid was "forced to speculate" that he would be joining the retail wannabe, he said that the phone nearly melted with calls from incredulous suppliers and mates.