PR strategy for Microsoft's CSR in China---Using MSN

This is the latest newsletter I received from Microsoft China. In the picture it says:

"Our teacher said, books are the hope and the way to get us out of poverty. Without books, it will be the day without sunshine. I want to have books."

This is a new charity event called "Love 2010", initiated by Microsoft China and China Population Welfare Foundation, sponsored by other corporations including Gettyimages. The event ask people for donations to specifically buy books for children in underprivileged areas.

Microsoft has always enjoyed a relatively good reputation in China. In terms of consuming market, Microsoft still holds the first-choice place for most target audience, which could be greatly contributed to its success on CSR.

Over the years, Microsoft China's CSR strategy is clearly more focused on providing education facilities. According to Corpwatch.Org:

"Since 1999, Microsoft China has provided nearly 4.5 million yuan ( US$ 542,000) to support computer skills training projects for laid-off and migrant workers in Liaoning, Sichuan, Guangdong and Shanghai.

"Microsoft is committed to addressing the digital divide issue," said David Kay, deputy general manager of Microsoft China, "because we believe, as a technology company, our combined resources-including products, technologies, solutions and cash grants-can be most effectively utilized in tackling this issue."

In 2008, Microsoft says it will increase its investments in China next month by donating two fully equipped infowagons, open a Partners in Learning school, Launch a Family Education PC program for rural communities in Miyun county outside Beijing, and provide digital literacy content in libraries and iCafes across Xinjiang.

One of Microsoft's advantages in communication to Chinese audience is the popularity of MSN. Following local brand QQ, MSN is the second biggest online instant messenger tool。 Although the total number of MSN users is 30 million, about 1/3 of QQ, most of its users are office workers with higher education, which means Microsoft would have more effective influence channel to the "elite" part of the whole population through MSN. And that's what exactly Microsoft has done.

Through MSN, Microsoft has 30 million users to send update newsletters. Being a MSN user for more than 7 years, I have found out the newsletters are generally friendly and mild, not pushing and clearly noted "advertising" on the title, even most of the contents are not advertising, just software updates, charity , or some online events.

In 2008, after the Torch Rally incident in Europe and North America, MSN China invited users to use the little red heart sign in their signature to show patronism. It only took days to make almost everyone's MSN window looks like the following picture:

And most of the users kept their signature the same way throughout the year for the earthquake and the Olympics. It implies how powerful MSN can be in terms of communicating with audience in China. Later, inspired Microsoft started another event, asking users to put another specific sign in the signature, with the promise of same amount of donations to sick children coming from the corporation as the user numbers who followed the "signature action". And with no doubt, it was another success.

These events need small budget but created great influence. Microsoft always to put its position on the same side with Chinese users, patronism, and the support to the rural areas. It deliberately avoids the impression of " an American corporation" to build up the emotional connection with the users. And also because MSN users being the "elite group" of the whole population, they have better resources to respond and take an action towards the message, as well as influence the rest part of the population.

For the latest event, Microsoft still sends the message out through MSN newsletter, and then created a specific website for online donations, to show pictures of the books donated and villages and children benefited, to run donation lists to show the fairness and openness of the whole event. Whoever gives donation online also gets to choose what kind of "educational books" he/she wants to buy for the kids. This is perfect for those who sits in the office, has a loving heart but busy life, 8+ hours' work in front of a computer screen with MSN account signed in---- with a few clicks they can help out without leaving the desk to check all the details, and pass it on to their friends and colleagues and clients on MSN too.

As social media is still warming up in China, MSN remains one of the most powerful communication platforms. Making the best use of it helps Microsoft better develop its CSR strategy and increase its healthy and localized image for Chinese users.

Related links:
Love 2010 main site: http://love2010.msn.cn/
CANGO : www.cango.org
Corpwatch Org about Microsoft CSR in China: http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12317


Petrus Hansen said...

Without getting political, there has been a lot of buzz on the Web on Internet restrictions and censorship in China, especially after Google threatened to pull the plug last year, find about the the current conditions there now in 2011 from a social media blogger's prespective.

Read the full blog post @ http://bit.ly/glL4tN

Anonymous said...

this is a very cute combination, and great photos. keep on with good work :)

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