Lessons from Microsoft's investigative journalist

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Say you work in the communications department at Microsoft. Which story would you be more interested in covering for the brand’s media channels: the new Kinect software or the energy levels in Microsoft’s corporate offices?

Microsoft’s Steve Clayton thought the Kinect sounded more compelling. But after spending an afternoon with the man who runs the facilities department and learning about his money-saving energy software, Clayton decided to run with the energy story.

Big hit. It attracted 150,000 page views and more than 800,000 retweets in the first 48 hours it was live. Several major industry sites ran the story, and within one week, governments and major retailers were asking to buy the energy software.

Think there’s no return on investment in internal storytelling? Join Clayton and learn:

  • How stories changed the world’s perception of Microsoft and increased sales
  • How you can do the same for your company
  • Why Microsoft followed this unconventional, even risky path
  • His methodology for storytelling within the organization
  • Tips and techniques to find and tell great stories
  • How a self-confessed ‘geek in disguise' manages Microsoft's owned media ways of storytelling
  • What's next for Microsoft storytelling

Find out what “the four Ps” are and why you’d better know them if you don’t want your readers to fall asleep at their desks.

Wonder what stories you can tell about your organization? Should you do a profile on one of your hairy-eared bigwigs? Should you announce your new product line in a blog post? Without knowing the Four Ps, you’ll be rudderless.

Hear about how Clayton wrote about employee Karsten Aagaard, who used to be a toymaker, building wooden and plastic models of toys for Fisher Price. He still makes models at Microsoft, but they are now models of mice, keyboards and controllers. A story!

Hear how Clayton introduced readers to the model shop—a sophisticated woodworking and metalworking design room where Aagaard and his co-workers build product models and test them.

About four years ago, Wii, a movement-focused video game console, was a popular product among consumers. Microsoft wanted to create its own version, but without a controller—we know it now as Kinect. Hear how Clayton told the story of Microsoft’s innovation in the field.

Sick of writing about products?  Sure you are. Customers see them as one-dimensional, boring and a hard sell. Learn a better philosophy from Microsoft.

Learn how to tell a story that doesn’t blatantly sell. Find out how Microsoft’s multimedia storytelling can spread your story even when the media turn you down. And listen up for the part about “88 Acres,” a story peppered with short videos and sharp photos that attracted hundreds of thousands of page views and shares.

Several major industry sites ran the story, and within a week, governments and major retailers were asking to buy the energy software.

“We basically created a story that created a multi-million dollar pipeline for products and services from Microsoft,” Clayton explains.

Does this sound like something you’re interested in? Start with this video.

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Broadcast: 
October 2013
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Presenter bio: 

Steve Clayton is editor of the “Next at Microsoft” blog and resident Microsoft storyteller. He manages Microsoft's owned media platforms and works with teams across the company to tell its stories via Microsoft News Center, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. He was the architect of the acclaimed "88 Acres" story that heralded a new direction for Microsoft's corporate storytelling. On the “Next” blog, Clayton highlights the work of product groups, Microsoft Research, incubation teams and individuals, providing an insider's view of Microsoft and showing people what's next in technology.